Ministers back firing

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Minister of Health, Dr. Duane Sands.

Described as “cold and heartless” by some on social media, Health Minister Dr. Duane Sands and Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources Renward Wells showed no sympathy for three of their colleagues were stripped of their government appointed posts Tuesday morning.

During a brief interview outside Cabinet Tuesday morning, the men shared their views surrounding yesterday’s fiasco, where four of their Free National Movement (FNM) colleagues voted against government’s 67 per cent increase in value-added tax (VAT).

The four VAT opponents were Travis Robinson, Member of Parliament (MP) for Bain and Grants Town who was also Parliamentary Secretary within the Ministry of Tourism; Vaughn Miller, Golden Isles MP who also held a parliamentary secretary position within the Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development; Frederick McAlpine, MP for Pineridge and former Chairman of the Hotel Corporation; and Reece Chipman, MP for Centerville.

Three of the four men who voted no held government appointed positions and according to the Westminster system, “Cabinet, junior or senior ministers, must publicly support the policy of government, regardless of any private reservations.”

It was based on this premise that the trio was axed.

Dr. Sands and Wells said they stood by the prime minister’s decision.

“In life, there are no rewards or punishments, only consequences, and so as a part of government, I believe that any member of government who defies a position taken by government should expect to experience the consequences of their actions,” asserted Dr. Sands.

Wells noted, “If a parliamentary secretary was to disagree with the position of government, and if it was such an instance where they vote against the government; traditionally they shouldn’t even take their seat (after voting).”

“When you are a part of government and decide to vote against something that your own party is trying to do, you don’t take your seat after voting, you simply should just walk around to the back bench and sit down.

“But, in this instance, they have left their fate up to the prime minister, and so the prime minister will decide.”

McAlpine, Miller, and Robinson have expressed no regrets concerning their decision to vote against VAT.

Chipman also confirmed to Eyewitness News that he voted on behalf of his constituents who do not agree with the tax hike.

Despite their efforts, the amendment to the VAT Act 2018 was passed in the Lower Chamber Tuesday morning.

Twenty-four MPs voted in favor of the bill.

It will now be tabled before the Senate for final approval.

The increase in VAT takes effect on July 1.