Prime Minister, Allen Chastanet, has defended the appointment of another cabinet minister, asserting that he does not think it is a drain on the public purse.
Sarah Flood-Beaubrun was sworn in this afternoon as Minister in the Ministry of Finance, Economic Growth, Job Creation, External Affairs and the Public Service effective Monday, July 25, 2016.
With the appointment, the current cabinet of ministers numbers sixteen.
“At the end of the day what we are actually trying to do is curtail – we have gone down to eight ministries,” Chastanet said.
He asserted that no additional ministries, Permanent Secretaries or administration were involved.
The PM said the current cabinet members are less than the number of ministers that the former Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) administration had.
“We are down to eight ministries from when it was at fifteen before, so what I keep on saying is that we are creating a footprint – a new paradigm in terms of governance and the structure of government and the full manifestation of our strategy will not be really seen by the public until the next budget,” Chastanet declared.
The Prime Minister was questioned about the post of Deputy Speaker to which Flood-Beaubrun has been appointed at the recent opening of parliament and which she has now resigned.
He remarked that the constitution was very clear that parliament could not convene without a Speaker.
“The language that is used for the Deputy Speaker is that if the Deputy Speaker resigns, then a new Deputy Speaker shall be elected as soon as is convenient,” Chastanet told reporters, adding that his administration will cross that bridge when it reaches it.
He disclosed that it is clear that the Deputy Speaker is not required for the government or the opposition to proceed.
“If the opposition chooses to elect a Deputy Speaker in the interim, that’s fine, but if not as soon as it is convenient I am sure that the house will appoint a Deputy Speaker,” the Prime Minister explained.
He said that Flood-Beaubrun had resigned as Deputy Speaker since one cannot be a member of cabinet and hold that position at the same time.
Chastanet revealed that because of the requirement that the first sitting of the house should have a Deputy Speaker, Flood-Beaubrun had agreed to have her ministerial appointment delayed.
The Prime Minister said he was not sure that the opposition would have filled the position.
The opposition had declined during the opening session of parliament, asserting that it would not help Chastanet’s bid to appoint all elected members of his party as well as several un-elected members as government ministers.
Chastanet described Sarah Flood-Beaubrun’s appointment as a minister as having been a “long time waiting” and said that the Castries Central MP was an “incredible” addition to the ruling United Workers Party (UWP).
He expressed the belief that the new minister has a significant contribution to make in providing day to day oversight of foreign affairs.
According to the Prime Minister, that will take a huge burden of his shoulders as Flood-Beaubrun is someone who is extremely mature.
He explained that she will be focusing on two areas – family rights and human rights.
Chastanet said both were hot issues for discussion and he could not think of a better person to lead the charge for Saint Lucia on those matters.