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Apr 1, 2016

Government Seeks to Empower Minister of State for Immigration

Eamon Courtenay

For the past two weeks, the National Assembly has been occupied with the annual budget which came into effect today.  The fiscal plan has been presented and carefully taken apart in the House of Representatives and the Senate.  But, while all attention was focused on the Revenue Appropriation Bill, less emphasis was seemingly placed on a tangle of laws.  Those pieces of legislation are centered around immigration and government’s attempt to empower Minister of State Beverly Castillo with the authority to sign on immigration documents that would otherwise require the signature of the substantive minister.  That power has been conferred on Minister of Immigration Godwin Hulse at the time of his appointment.  As we said, that motion before the senate initially flew under the radar, but, according to Senator Eamon Courtenay, three of the five bills have been set aside for further review.


Eamon Courtenay, Opposition Senator

“There were five pieces of legislation, all to do with immigration in which we were asked to amend these five existing laws.  The primary objective of those proposed amendments was to give to Minister Hulse who is the substantive Minister of Immigration the power to delegate certain powers under each one of those acts to Minister of State Beverly Castillo.  We in the opposition objected vehemently to this because we felt that it was bad politics, it was bad policy and it was bad law.  Very quickly, the constitution provides that a minister is appointed by the Governor General on the advice of the Prime Minister and in this particular case Godwin Hulse has been appointed Minister of Immigration by the Governor General on the advice of the Right Honorable Dean Barrow.  You will notice in the gazette that when that appointment takes place specific responsibility is assigned to Minister Godwin Hulse.  Similarly, Minister Castillo, Beverly Castillo, was appointed a minister of state.  Now, in the constitution Section Forty-five which provides for ministers of state, it does not provide for the Governor General to assign responsibility to a minister of state.  They merely assist the substantive minister.  For some strange reason they have decided that they wanted to allow Godwin Hulse to remain the substantive minister but change the law to give him power to assign his powers to approve passports or to assign the granting of passports, making legislations, subsidiary legislations, setting fees for immigration permits and permissions, hearing appeals for people who appeal for people who appeal against refusals for grant of visas and that type of thing.  So that he could delegate that to his minister of state.  Now it would mean that you would have him as the substantive minister and Beverly Castillo as the minister of state with the power to exercise the very same power that he has.  So you have two ministers exercising the same powers.”

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