Opposition leader Philip Brave Davis said yesterday that the opposition walked out the House of Assembly on Wednesday in protest of the “bullying and boorish” behavior of St. Anne’s MP Brent Symonette.
Members of the opposition walked out during debate on the Fiscal Strategy Report 2018.
“The walkout was in protest against the bullying, boorish and unparliamentary behavior of the member for Saint Anne’s, Brent Symonette, who sought to silence the voice of the people of Cat Island, Rum Cay and San Salvador by usurping the authority of the duly appointed leader of government business in the House, contrary to established practices and conventions regarding House rules,” Davis said in a statement.
“Mr. Symonette arbitrarily disrupted the order of speakers as was agreed, and at this stage in my career, I am not about to be disrespected or dictated to by the likes of Mr. Symonette.”
Exumas and Ragged Island MP Chester Cooper and Englerston MP Glenys Hanna-Martin contributed to the debate.
Following Yamacraw MP Elsworth Johnson’s contribution, there appeared to be a dispute over who was to speak next. Symonette and Davis began speaking to each other from their seats.
Eventually, Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest stood to wrap up debate. It was at this point that the opposition exited the chamber.
“It’s unfortunate that the opposition side seeks to leave,” Turnquest said, as the opposition left.
“I don’t know what that’s about. They had their opportunity to have their say.
“I don’t know why they would want to leave and abandon the Bahamian people, but that’s on them.”
Turnquest, called the Fiscal Strategy Report a “historic achievement in the implementation of our government’s drive to fundamentally transform both public financial management and the public finances in our nation”.
Davis said the report, “represents nothing more than a codification of longstanding conventional practices in the administration of public finances”.
“It is akin to a contract between two people and is only as good as the propriety of the parties involved, in that there are no built-in constraints or enforcement mechanisms,” Davis said.
“Cabinet ministers can do as they please, such as the whimsical and unbudgeted purchase of the Grand Lucayan Hotel – then make amendments after the fact with no accountability.
“Or Cabinet can raise taxes on a whim; they can also promise, then unceremoniously abandon, important post-hurricane repairs or even fire thousands of public servants in the name of ‘fiscal responsibility’.”
Education: Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish