Saturday, Nov 16, 2019
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The new Cabinet

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced the remainder of his Cabinet yesterday. There are three constitutional ministers — the prime minister, the minister of finance and the attorney general. They (Minnis, Peter Turnquest and Carl Bethel, respectively) were sworn in last week.

There’s experience and youth in the team. Minnis, Brent Symonette, Dion Foulkes, Bethel and Desmond Bannister have previously served in Free National Movement (FNM) Cabinets. The rest of the 19 are newcomers.

There is only one woman in Cabinet. This is unfortunate. The FNM is the party of the first woman elected to the House of Assembly. The first female speaker and governor general came under the FNM. The new prime minister should seek to expand gender diversity in the executive as he proceeds.

The last Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Cabinet was rocked by scandal after scandal. There was the cancelation of the prosecution of the former clients of Allyson Maynard-Gibson; the Rubis oil spill cover-up; the discovery that Shane Gibson took money from a Peter Nygard company in an American account; Jerome Fitzgerald begged Sarkis Izmirlian for contracts for a family firm; Alfred Gray was in negotiations with China for a joint venture that would sell up to 20,000 acres of Crown land; and it was revealed that Maynard-Gibson’s family had Baha Mar retail shop interests while she negotiated the Baha Mar deal for the government.

These scandals were major factors in the party’s loss on May 10.

The FNM’s ministers should remember this. The Bahamian people will fall out of love quickly with the new governing party if the same corrupt practices happen under its watch.

The new prime minister realizes this.

“I want to send a message to my ministers, that should you engage in unsavory or (make) unethical requests to the permanent secretary and I discover or find this out, you will immediately be fired,” Minnis said at the Cabinet swearing-in ceremony at Government House.

His remarks were greeted with applause.

“Each day we must work to maintain the confidence and trust of the people who voted for a new day,” Minnis added.

The Bahamian people developed an activist sprit during Perry Christie’s final term. They marched. They waged war on social media. They spoke up on talk radio. Lying, being evasive, stealing and incompetence will not be tolerated.

The press was quite aggressive too, challenging a wayward PLP when the FNM was too weak to mount an effective opposition. The press will be watchful of the new government. The honeymoon period won’t last long.

We hope the new ministers have come to do the people’s work. The Bahamian people have real needs. They want their new government to try. They want their new government to be honest and transparent. They want their new government to succeed.

Minnis has promised to keep his crew under firm order. We will watch and see if he is able to do so.

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