Senator Godwin Hulse first entered Cabinet in March 2012 as a Government Minister despite him not being elected. He was one of four persons appointed to Cabinet through the Senate; an unprecedented move by any administration. The first portfolio given to him was Labour, Local Government and Rural Development and NEMO. He remained with that portfolio but gained the additional responsibility for Immigration and Nationality some six months later. In November 2015, Hulse was then given Ministry of Natural Resources and Immigration as the substantive minister. Eight months later on the heels of grand speculation of corruption and injustice in the Belize Police Department, Senator Hulse has been made the Minister of Police, retaining responsibility for Immigration and Nationality. Hulse had less than a year to make changes to the Lands Department which the Prime Minister had conceded to be a hotbed of corruption. Today, the media questioned Hulse on how he will be tackling the police department.
“The fundamental mandate of the police is to protect the citizens of the country and in effect to do investigations to apprehend, to charge and to try to get convictions to a certain extent. Those are the kinds of structures we have to look at, remember the police comes out of the people and I will quote my good friend Bernard Bevan’s when he was commissioner of police he said “the police have their way of doing business and they don’t have to inform anybody.” I asked “So what is going to happen to these people?” He undertook to come to the farm the following day to apologize because the police never apologize for anything but at least to explain why he did it and he said a fundamental statement, he said “The police come out of the people. It is not the top educated people in this society that join the police it is the people who have primary school and three months training cannot in any way equip them to deal with all the matters that exist so we have to always bear that in mind.” I am bearing that in mind when the prime minister gave me this job this morning that I will have people that I have to work with, people at the top, people at the middle and people at the bottom and I think all of you know my style. There are two things that are legend with me, I will listen to everybody, hear everybody’s complaint, try to work everybody because I believe in the positive C’s; compromise, cooperation and camaraderie, but I have zero tolerance with anything else and it doesn’t matter who that is.”
As we mentioned, it has only been eight months since Hulse took over the Lands Department. He spoke on the sudden changes.
“Yes bitter sweet because I was gung-ho and pushing and pushing and I hope that Minister Retriege will continue in that vein as the Prime Minister has said also but as I said many times in interviews, all ministries in my mind are equal, people continue to talk about powerful and not so powerful ministries I don’t see it so at all. I see all ministries are equal, all ministers get the same pay. All ministers should work hard and do the work they get paid for, should be on the job all the time and to try to produce the best. What does lands do? Lands ensures that people get their property. In fact Jules you were a victim of a long outstanding matter that you got addressed, a 13 years or something like that. So far I started with 97,000 outstanding items I am down to 57,000 and in that short time I have signed just close to 4,000 leases, grants, all sorts of people’s matters have been cleaned up who walk in that door and say they’ve been trying for so long and we’ve cleaned it up.”
“Was lands indeed a hotbed of corruption when you found it as the Prime Minister had said?”
“Oh yes, everybody knew that, that was public knowledge. Lands was a private business masquerading as a public department everybody knows that. Your thing did not go up there unless you paid somebody and I am not saying anything at the top I am saying that is from the bottom, you don’t get your thing up unless you pay somebody it’s just messy. You go to lands right now it is as calm as ever; you won’t see anybody there and all the people that used to hang out there and control the thing they disappeared.”
John Saldivar is now the Ministry of Defense with responsibility for the Belize Defense Force and the Belize Coast Guard. Attorney General Vanessa Retreage will be made a Senator and subsequently, the Minister of Natural Resources. It is unclear as to which Senator Retreage will be taking over from. Prime Minister Barrow was hesitant to say who will be removed from the Senate as he/she was yet to be informed.