Tuesday, Aug 20, 2019
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Miller suggests PM needs to deal with ministers  

Golden Isles MP Vaughn Miller yesterday called for fair treatment of all who serve in the Minnis administration.

Miller told reporters at the House of Assembly that he was referring to National Security Minister Marvin Dames and Health Minister Dr. Duane Sands and their conduct in the corruption trial of former PLP Senator Frank Smith.

Miller said he plans to review the whole case to be clear when he makes his statement in Parliament.

Last year, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis fired Miller from his post of parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development after he voted against the government’s plan to increase value-added tax (VAT) from 7.5 percent to 12 percent.

He also fired Travis Robinson, who was parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, and Fredrick McAlpine, who was chairman of the hotel corporation, for voting against the measure.

Minnis later said he was acting in line with Westminster protocol.

Speaking in the House yesterday to the issue of fairness, Miller said, “On June 19 of last year, some three of us, honorable members of this house, were fired. Mr Speaker, I accepted whatever the consequences were for my act.

“Mr. Speaker, there’s much talk throughout the country, I’m sure as you may be aware, with regards to Westminster and who Westminster applies to and who it does not apply to.

“Mr. Speaker, when I was fired and the press questioned me about other members that they thought were overlooked and should have been fired also, I simply said to the press, that I’m forgetting those things that are behind and I press forward.

“I simply ask that the same manner in which we were treated under Westminster, that other persons, if in fact, it happened, would be treated in like manner.”

Miller then informed House Speaker Halson Moultrie that he plans to ask for a select committee on the Westminster system.

Since Smith was acquitted of extortion and bribery charges earlier this month, there have been questions about both ministers’ role in the case.

Smith was charged in 2017 with abusing his position as chairman of the Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) after the award of a $516,000 contract to Barbara Hanna, the owner of Magic Touch Cleaning, to clean the critical care unit of Princess Margaret Hospital.

In her ruling, Chief Magistrate Joyann Ferguson-Pratt decried the “egregious” conduct of Sands and Dames.

During the course of the case it was revealed that Sands awarded a second contract of $1.8 million to Hanna, three months after Smith was charged.

Ferguson-Pratt said the circumstances of the contract raised a “specter of impropriety”.

It was also revealed that Dames met with Hanna before she made an official complaint to police.

The magistrate said that this meeting with the complainant was “unorthodox, to say the least”.

Sloan Smith

Staff Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Sloan covers national news for The Nassau Guardian. Sloan officially joined the news team in September 2016 but interned at The Nassau Guardian while studying journalism at the University of The Bahamas.
Education: Vrije Universiteit Brussel (University of Brussels), MA in Mass Communications

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