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Foulkes Blasts ‘Gussie-Mae’ Cabinet Slams “Most Expensive Gov’t In History”

Former Free National Movement (FNM) Cabinet minister Dion Foulkes yesterday sounded the alarm on the size of the Christie Cabinet and went a step further, noting that 30 Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) MPs have been rewarded with high paying jobs since the PLP assumed office nearly six months ago.

He also raised concerns about the Cabinet’s potential adverse effect on local government.

Mr. Foulkes released a statement responding to the recent appointment of North Abaco Member of Parliament Renardo Curry as a parliamentary secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister in Abaco.

The former labour minister said the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Cabinet, which is comprised of 16 substantive ministers and five state ministers for a total of 21, is the largest cabinet in the country’s history.

Mr. Curry’s recent appointment adds to the number of junior ministers or parliamentary secretaries in the administration bringing the total to four.

By contrast, the previous administration was comprised of 13 substantive ministers and four state ministers for a total of 17; there was one parliamentary secretary.

“Mr. Curry joins a crowded field of current and former PLP Parliamentarians who have been given high paying ministerial appointments, executive and nominal chairmanships by the PLP Government since the general elections, a sore point for the thousands of suffering unemployed Bahamians,” said Mr. Foulkes.

“In addition to the 25 ministers, four other MPs serve as high profile executive chairmen of the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC), the Gaming Board, the Bahamas Agriculture and Industrial Corporation (BAIC) and The National Insurance Board (NIB). The ambassador to Caricom is also a MP. That brings to 30 the number of PLP parliamentarians rewarded with high paying jobs since the PLP assumed office in May.”

Mr. Foulkes questioned the rationale behind some of the appointments which he said only add to an already struggling economy.

“With a total disregard for the financial challenges confronting our country and thousands of Bahamians who are suffering due to the lack of jobs, Prime Minister Perry Christie formed the most expensive government in the history of The Bahamas,” Mr. Foulkes said.

“The creation of a ministry for Grand Bahama in Grand Bahama added needless expense, now the appointment of a parliamentary secretary to be stationed in Abaco will add additional costs as that office will have to be established and staffed. Not only is this an abuse and a waste of the people’s money, it strikes at the heart of the role of local government in the Family Islands. It diminishes the power and influence of elected local government members.”

Last week, Prime Minister Perry Christie addressed the issue of the size of his Cabinet when he announced the appointment of Mr. Curry in the House of Assembly.

Mr. Christie said under normal circumstances he would not have been inclined to increase the Cabinet, but he noted that these are not normal circumstances in which the country now finds itself.

“I am firmly of the view that the appointment of the honourable member for North Abaco as a parliamentary secretary is highly advisable at this point in time,” the prime minister said.

“Abaco has the third largest economy in The Bahamas surpassed only by New Providence and Grand Bahama,” Mr. Christie said.

“It is important, therefore, for my government – in particular, the Office of the Prime Minister – to have a permanent presence in Abaco so that the economic and social challenges to which I have referred can be systematically and directly addressed, with close attention, on a daily basis. Renardo Curry is the best man for that job. I have therefore taken the necessary steps to put him in that job.”

However, Mr. Foulkes, who recently announced that he will be making a bid to become chairman of the FNM once again, accused the PLP of rolling back “significant and positive affects of local government” that were established under the previous administration.

“This is bad for our economy and it is a threat to local government,” he charged.

Mr. Curry is expected to be sworn in as a parliamentary secretary during a brief ceremony at Government House today.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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