Premier wants to add 6th minister
Cayman Islands Premier
McKeeva Bush has indicated his desire to add a sixth Cabinet minister within
government, without increasing the total number of lawmakers currently in the
country’s governing body.
There are now five
elected ministers serving in the Cayman Islands Legislative Assembly and in the
Cabinet, and a total of 15 elected members serving in the LA.
In a letter sent to
Opposition Leader Kurt Tibbetts earlier this week, Mr. Bush wrote that Cayman’s
new Constitution allows 2/5ths of house representatives to hold ministerial
positions within government. Two-fifths, or 40 per cent, of the current number
of lawmakers within the house would equal six.
Mr. Bush said issues of
governance arose during budget discussions with British Overseas Territories minister Henry Bellingham
earlier this year.
“The issue of less
members of Cabinet which created more strain and governance issues were
discussed,” Mr. Bush wrote.
But the process of adding
a sixth minister to government isn’t as simple as it seems.
“For some reason there
was a stipulation that no additional ministers could be appointed until after
the house was next prorogued [meaning its term had finished just before the next
scheduled general elections],” Mr. Bush wrote.
Mr. Bush said British Overseas Territories minister Henry Bellingham had
confirmed “his willingness to allow a minor change to [Cayman’s] Constitution by
a UK Order in Council,” but that he would like to have consensus of Cayman’s
Legislative Assembly before doing so.
“We have not clarified
whether [Mr. Bellingham] requires unanimous agreement or simply a majority,” Mr.
Opposition party members
contacted on Thursday indicated their party’s executive council was still
weighing the premier’s proposal, but said – at the very least – that greater
public consultation should be had on the issue.
“If one views an increase
in the size of Cabinet as a minor or inconsequential change, I’m not sure what
you could argue wouldn’t be minor or inconsequential,” George Town MLA Alden
just approved by the voters last year in a historic referendum requires that a
separate referendum be held before any changes of national importance to the
document are made. However, there is a loophole contained in Letters of
Entrustment attached to the document.
“In giving this political
undertaking to use its best endeavours to honour this referendum requirement,
Kingdom continues to reserve the right to amend
the Cayman Islands Constitution if there are exceptional circumstances where it
is not possible or appropriate to do otherwise.”
The documents state that
constitutional changes can also be made if those changes are declared as minor
or uncontroversial by the premier, opposition leader and the UK government.
The opposition party said
it would write to Mr. Bush sometime early next week with a formal response to
his proposal to add a sixth minister to the LA. .
Please see more on this
story in next week’s editions of the Caymanian Compass…