Thursday, April 25, 2024

Payne queries removal


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Member of Parliament for St Andrew, George Payne, is questioning his removal as Minister of Housing and Lands and wants to know what more he could have done.

On Tuesday, Payne rose in the House of Assembly during debate on a resolution for the vesting and disposal of lands at Martindale’s Road, St Michael, to address the issue.

Payne, who held the ministerial post for just over two years, said his removal during the Cabinet reshuffle by Prime Minister Mia Mottley was “disrespectful” and he also addressed rumours – which he believed to be deliberate – about him being in a wheelchair and in poor health.

“I believe that at this particular point in time I enjoy the best health for anybody my age,” he said. “I wonder whether or not these things were not orchestrated in order to make it appear as though I was way past my time. I am not.”

Payne said the same thing (his removal) could have been achieved, but it should have been handled differently.

The long-serving MP said there was nothing more he could have done, coming on the heels of poor administration by the Democratic Labour Party, a bad economy and not being able to do some of the things he wanted.

Then there was the intervention of COVID-19, which no one foresaw.

And while a Minister could use the opportunity to put a proper programme in place, that could take years.

Payne said the Ministry of Housing and Lands was a complex one and there are thousands of Barbadians who need homes, many of whom can’t afford to buy land at market value. He also referred to the issues surrounding squatters, conveyances and the Tenantry Freehold Act.

With his replacement Dr William Duguid visible in the background, he said he would never be coerced into a photo op, turning soil for the construction of nine houses, when there was so much more to be done for the whole country.

“To make certain decisions like the decision that was made two weeks ago, at a time like this, I would not like to say it is irresponsible, but I can’t get in a word, Mr Speaker, maybe you can help me, but it was totally uncalled for. There was nothing special with respect to the changes that I have seen,” he said.

Payne said after all he had done for the past 40 years, the sacrifices made and what the “transformational team” had started, he was now no longer a part of it.

“I believe that at this stage of my political life I should not be called by a Prime Minister and to be told that she is going to the nation in the next two hours to make what she would call a reshuffle, but really it is a removal,” he said during his submission.

“My father had a famous saying that respect is due to a dog . . . and I would like to repeat it here because I believe that I have been a member of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) since 1967 when I was at Combermere School; I have contested elections for the BLP under all BLP prime ministers and I have also served at the highest level in this party and I believe that there is a certain minimum level of dignity that should be afforded to me.”

Prime Minister Mottley reshuffled the Cabinet on July 22, 2020 and Payne was among four Ministers who were removed while two new ones were appointed.

Payne wrapped up his submission by pointing out several people who did outstanding work in the community and were worthy of schools, roundabouts and so on being renamed in their honour. (SAT)


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