BELIZE CITY, Wed. Mar. 9, 2016–Prime Minister Dean Barrow tabled a raft of amendments to legislation tailored to provide a carve-out for Minister of State Beverly Castillo, United Democratic Party area representative for Belize Rural Central, to function in the substantive role of Immigration boss, Senator Godwin Hulse.
Hulse, the current Minister of Natural Resources and Immigration, was reassigned the Immigration portfolio last November when a new Cabinet was sworn in following the November 4 general elections. However, Castillo, who had snagged her first victory at the polls over the incumbent member at that time, the Opposition People’s United Party member, Dolores Balderamos-Garcia, was named Minister of State in that ministry, with emphasis on Immigration.
At the sitting of the House of Representatives this Tuesday, Barrow proposed amendments to Belize’s Nationality Act, Immigration Act, Passports Act, Refugee Act and Caribbean Community Free Movement of Skilled Persons Act, to allow Hulse to issue a revocable instrument to delegate powers he now has as substantive minister to Castillo.
Amandala readers will recall that former Minister of State with responsibility for Immigration, Elvin Penner, also exercised certain Immigration powers, including the signing of nationality certificates, but he was forced to resign after an Immigration scandal broke over a passport he had allegedly facilitated for a South Korean national, Won Hong Kim, who was at the time in a Taiwan jail. That incident occurred back in 2013.
Speaking with the media after the House meeting, Barrow said: “…it is perfectly in order under the Constitution for the minister to delegate some powers to a junior minister by way of an instrument that’s revocable.”
He later added, “…we make no secret of the fact that in terms of the way we are trying to operate the new configuration in the Cabinet, in the case of the junior minister in Immigration, we do want her to have as much operational, day-to-day control as possible. We make no secret of that.”
Barrow said that Hulse has been “completely hands off” with the immigration portfolio, and he has no difficulty with Castillo’s role at Immigration.
“It is just that certain things ultimately have to be sent over to him for signature. But he doesn’t get involved in the day-to-day,” Barrow said.