Former minister says cabinet and civil service too big
A former Democratic Labour Party (DLP) minister believes Prime Minister Freundel Stuart should cut the size of his Cabinet.
Sir Frederick Sleepy Smith insisted in an interview with Barbados TODAY that, the public sector was too large for a country of this size.
That, he said, included the number of Ministers.
“Barbados had no right with so many civil servants. It is complete foolishness . . . 20,000 civil servants is nonsense. A little two-by-three place like Barbados, why do you need so many civil servants?” he questioned, although insisting that it was “regrettable” that thousands of public servants were sent home earlier this year as Government implemented measures to cut costs and raise revenue.
Asked directly if he would recommend a Cabinet cut, Sir Frederick was quick to reply, “oh yes, tomorrow morning!”
“We could save on all those aspects,” he said.
He did not, however, identify any Ministers who he thought should get the axe.
Sir Frederick admitted that he was expecting to see a reduced Cabinet after the DLP won the February 21, 2013 general elections, taking 16 of the 30 seats in Parliament and securing a second consecutiveterm in office.
“But it didn’t happen and I can see now the reason why nothing can be done because you only have 14-16. So if two people who were dropped go over, you’re in trouble. So I can understand the political implications,” said the former Cabinet minister.
Addressing the wider issue of the public service, Sir Frederick charged that it was used as “an easy way for politicians to get jobs for their friends”.
He identified the National Conservation Commission (NCC), in particular, as one such agency.
“Everybody [who wants a job] goes to the NCC. You want a job, you go to the civil service. So, to that extent, both are padded,” he said.
He further contended that the NCC and the central Government were “resting places” for people sent by politicians.
“It is a resting place for politicians . . . from both sides, not only the Democratic Labour Party. The Barbados Labour Party has done the same thing over the years. For 14 years they were in power, they did the same thing; they have built up a civil service,” charged the DLP stalwart.
At the same time, the retired jurist said he was not happy with the way in which 200 retrenched NCC workers were being treated.
They have been awaiting a hearing before the Employment Rights Tribunal, to challenge their dismissals which took place in April this year.
However, no work has started and, in the meantime, the former employees have not received any severance.
“I hope that whatever they do that justice will prevail,” Sir Frederick said.