BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, May 30, 2018 (CMC) – Less than 24 hours after she led her Barbados Labour Party (BLP) to a clean-sweep victory in the May 24 general election, Mia Amor Mottley, 52, was sworn in as Barbados eighth prime minister, last Friday, joining a handful of Caribbean women who have headed governments in their respective countries.
Mottley, who first entered local politics in 1991, when she lost the St. Michael North East constituency to Leroy Brathwaite, took the oath of office before Governor General, Sandra Mason, and in the presence of family, friends and party supporters.
Attorney Dale Marshall also took the oath of office as Attorney General.
Mottley — who between 1994 to 2008, held a succession of ministerial portfolios — led the BLP to a whitewash of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP), winning all 30 seats in the Parliament.
Two years later, she served as the island’s second female Deputy Prime Minister and, following the BLP’s defeat in the 2008 election and Owen Arthur’s resignation as party leader, Mottley was chosen as BLP party leader on January 19, 2008.
She also served as the first female Opposition Leader, when she was sworn in on February 7, 2008.
Mottley joins the late Dame Eugenia Charles of Dominica, Janet Jagan of Guyana, Jamaica’s Portia Simpson Miller and Kamla Persad Bissessar of Trinidad and Tobago, as women who have led governments in their respective countries.
Following her party’s resounding victory, Mottley said she wanted to thank Barbadians for doing “what is best for Barbados”.
The newly elected Prime Minister has promised that the new Cabinet, sworn into office on Sunday, will be one of “ideas, problem solving and action”.
The Cabinet swearing-in ceremony, held opposite the government headquarters on the outskirts of the capital, was attended by three Prime Ministers from the region – Dr. Keith Mitchell of Grenada, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Allen Chastanet of St. Lucia.
In her address at the ceremony, Mottley said that under her leadership, the cabinet will also be one of “collective responsibility”.
“I will encourage vibrant dialogue and healthy exchange and once we have discussed it – we will be unified and consistent, because the country needs certainty from its government,” said Mottley as she again thanked the people of Barbados.
“Thank you for showing up when it mattered most, to demonstrate the astounding power of your vote. Because of you, our country has seen the most emphatic and unambiguous expression of the will of the people in its history….these fields and hills have resounded with the decisiveness of your message.”
According to Mottley, who becomes the first woman to lead the country, “the walk will be a long one. The new dawn is here, collectively, the people of Barbados are amazed at what has been achieved, but none more so than your new government and cabinet.
“We are profoundly affected by the extraordinary strength of the mandate that you have given us and we are equally conscious of the responsibility placed firmly on our shoulders; never to betray your trust or breach the sanctity of the covenant that you have willingly entered into with us – this is truly a government of hope.”
The Prime Minister promised that hope will be translated into action and told supporters – “There is no time for pause…we have serious work to do and serious problems to solve.”
The nation’s eighth Prime Minister told the crowd that things can be made right in the country with the “politics of inspiration”.
“We can, if we think we can, to restore and renew Barbados, doesn’t require just the commitment of the 30 of us – it requires all patriotic Barbadians making a determination that decisiveness and partisan tribalism must not be allowed to destroy this nation …..we can, and we will, find the common ground to build the best Barbados together for everyone.”
Pointing to the absence of a formal opposition in the house, Mottley noted the situation provides the government with a unique opportunity to evolve other institutional arrangements to ensuring inclusive dialogue and participation.
“These will include an innovative use of the committee system of parliament to coop external participation and input and an enhanced consultative process with an expanded and reenergized social partnership. Through the structure of our proposed people’s assemblies and national dialogues, we will also consider the introduction of question time, where members of parliament will respond to pertinent queries, not only from members of parliament, but submitted by members of the public,” she promised.
The Prime Minister added that her government reflects a “careful balance between experience and youth.
“It’s size responds directly to the enormity of the task we face in rebuilding Barbados… there will be deadlines for action and constant follow-up and evaluation. I will be holding the ministers to the highest standards of efficiency and productivity. The people of Barbados will accept nothing less – neither will I.”
She also said that all members of parliament will subscribe to a code of ethics.
“Pending the enactment of the integrity legislation, which we have already placed and made public since November and the consequential establishment of an integrity commission, all ministers will submit a declaration of their assets in a document to be held in a sealed envelope and in confidence by the Cabinet Secretary until the establishment of the integrity commission,” Mottley said.
The Prime Minister promised to lead a government of integrity: “You shall always have the confidence in knowing how we will act in your name. No ministers will be signing important deals or contracts, on your behalf, behind your back or without the mandatory advice or opinion. That is how responsible government behaves. There will be no dodging or hiding from the people of Barbados.”
The Prime Minister said Cabinet members and Parliamentary Secretaries will continue to donate to charity, the 10 percent restored to parliamentarians’ salaries in 2016 and this will continue as an act of solidarity with the people of Barbados, who have been enduring economic hardship.
She said that starting last Monday, meetings will be held with the social partnership to address issues of critical importance.
“I will meet with the leadership of the social partnership, twice a month, until we have gotten Barbados back to a position of safety and stability…..we will hit the ground running, for we do not have the luxury of time,” she said.
The new prime minister has also indicated plans were afoot to reform the Constitution to allow for the main opposition party to name two persons in the Senate given the results of the May 24 general election.
While there were seven political parties that contested last Thursday’s general election, the Democratic Labour Party (DLP), which had formed the government over the past 10 years, emerged as the second highest in terms of voters.
“It is only fair to the country that therefore those amendments be made to be able to secure their voice rather than to have them absent from the Parliament of Barbados,” she said, adding that in the event that the DLP failed to take up the offer, the Governor General will appoint two Senators “acting in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister”” after consultation with various stakeholder groups.
Concerning regional integration, the Prime Minister said the presence of her colleagues at the Cabinet swearing-in was a testament of the strength of the spirit of the Caribbean
“I give you my assurance that our government is eager to restore and reinvigorate its partnership with you, in pursuit of our vital regional integration goals,” she promised her Caribbean counterparts.
The names of the new Cabinet appointees are:
Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Economic Affairs and Investment – Mia Mottley;
Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs – Dale Marshall;
Minister of Education, Technological and Vocational Training and Leader of Government Business – Santia Bradshaw;
Minister of Housing, Lands and Rural Development – George Payne;
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade and Leader of Government Business in the Senate – Senator Dr Jerome Walcott;
Minister of International Business and Industry – Ronald Toppin;
Minister of Environment and National Beautification – Trevor Prescod;
Minister of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs – Cynthia Forde;
Minister of Tourism and International Transport – Kerrie Symmonds;
Minister of Transport Works and Maintenance – Dr William Duguid;
Minister of Health and Wellness – Jeffrey Bostic;
Minister of Home Affairs – Edmund Hinkson;
Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce – Dwight Sutherland;
Minister of Energy and Water Resources – Wilfred Abrahams;
Minister in the Ministry of Finance – Ryan Straughn;
Minister in the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Investment – Marsha Caddle;
Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Trade – Sandra Husbands;
Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Relations – Colin Jordan;
Minister in the Ministry of Housing, Lands and Rural Development – Charles Griffith;
Minister of Youth and Community Empowerment – Adrian Forde;
Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy – Kirk Humphrey;
Minister of Agriculture and Food Security – Indar Weir;
Minister in the Ministry of Transport Works and Maintenance – Peter Phillips;
Minister of the Creative Economy, Culture and Sports – John King;
Minister of Innovation, Science and Smart Technology – Senator Kay McConney;
Minister of Information, Broadcasting and Public Affairs- Senator Lucille Moe.