Estwick: I’m hanging by a string
Outspoken Government Minister Dr David Estwick says he is barely “hanging by a string”, having recently tendered his letter of resignation as chairman of the Infrastructural Committee of Cabinet.
However, he said Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has been refusing to accept his decision, and has even torn up his recent letter in which he had formally indicated his decision to quit.
In an exclusive interview with Barbados TODAY this week in which he reflected on the year now ending, Dr Estwick lamented that the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) was not the same party he joined.
In terms of Cabinet, Dr Estwick, who has recently been at odds with the Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler on a restructuring plan for the sugar industry, also complained that his role as chairman of the Infrastructural Committee was being seriously undermined by ministers who have been making public pronouncements about projects coming on stream “next week or next month” without his prior knowledge.
A frustrated Dr Estwick says he was prepared to quit the committee once and for all. He has also not ruled out the possibility of quitting the Government and crossing the floor.
“I am supposed to be the Chairman of the Infrastructural Committee of the Cabinet. Note the language I am using. As far as I know, from way back when such a committee was established under former Prime Minister David Thompson, that committee was tasked with determining projects, prioritizing projects, having oversight of projects; and therefore managing those projects with the private sector or the public sector to completion,” the former Minister of Economic Affairs pointed out.
“Sometimes I have to sit and appreciate whether or not I am in a position to carry out that task. There are times when I am not too sure I want to stay as chairman of the Infrastructural Committee of Cabinet, because I feel as though I am spinning top in mud,” he told Barbados TODAY.
The embattled Minister of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resources Management was at pains to suggest that the committee was being bypassed and projects introduced which should first go to the committee.
“There are times when I am being told of projects starting “tomorrow” or “next month” in the media and I am supposed to be Chairman of the Infrastructural Committee of Cabinet. So when I have to say that is not the way you do it, some will say ‘he is not a team player’.
“But I stand for process and procedure in doing it the right way,” the Minister of Agriculture insisted.
He said he has already put the Prime Minister on notice of his intention to step down, if this situation became chronic.
“And if I have to stand up on that I will stand up on that. I said to the Prime Minister, ‘if the time comes that I believe that I am ineffective because the process around me is not working, I will resign. And as I am sitting here with you today, I am telling you that is what I will do,” Estwick insisted.
He said the social conditions under which he joined the DLP had changed dramatically.
“When I came into politics, I was a medical doctor with a medical office practising medicine for about four, five years down in Wildey in Franklin House. So in other words, I came into politics with an already mixed moral compass and a fixed design socially as to how I am going to use the God-given skills that I have to advance the lives of people,” he explained.
He noted that other people before him would have had to make those choices and he made his with regards to his political future.
“And it is those types of underlying characteristics or value structures that help me to determine the direction that I am going,” he added.
Looking ahead to 2015, he suggested that economic growth will depend on project implementation.
“I don’t know who the implementer will be, because the responsibiity is supposed to be under a committee that I have responsibiity for. But I am not confident right now that the priortizing and the determination of the various projects is my task,” he told Barbados TODAY.