Veteran legislator Julian Fraser has said government ministers have no one they can complain to if they have a disagreement with their Premier.
Giving evidence before the Commission of Inquiry
) recently, Fraser made it clear that he was not suggesting premiers abuse their ministers.
Rather, he was making the point that sometimes a government minister is given a directive from their Premier and he/she has no choice but to comply or demit office.
Fraser — a former Works Minister in a previous Virgin Islands Party (VIP) government that was in office a decade ago — said this was effectively the case when his brothers were awarded a contract under his ministry. They bypassed his authority and went directly to his Premier at the time, Ralph T O’Neal, for work.
“I don’t know what the public perception would be, but they know that they didn’t get any work through me or from me,” Fraser said.
The legislator told the COI
at that because his brothers knew that he was not going to offer them a government contract under his ministry, someone else advised them to seek assistance from Premier O’Neal.
“In my own ministry, there were times when other things happened because people went to the Premier,” Fraser said.
Asked to give examples of instances where this might have happened, Fraser responded, “No, no I’m not going there.”
“The Premier in any administration is basically omnipotent,” Fraser stated. It was against this backdrop that the legislator said there is no one constitutionally in place for ministers to submit a complaint against their boss, the Premier.
“When it comes to a Minister and a Premier, you are literally at his or her mercy,” Fraser said.
On the other hand, he said a Permanent Secretary can always complain to the Deputy Governor about a minister.