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D’Aguilar defends Dames and Sands

Amid calls for the resignations of two of his Cabinet colleagues, Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar said yesterday he believes the ministers have done nothing wrong and should not be forced to leave their Cabinet positions.

The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) called for the resignations or dismissal of Health Minister Duane Sands and Minister of National Security Marvin Dames after the acquittal of Frank Smith, who is a former PLP Senator and Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) chairman.

But D’Aguilar disagreed.

“I don’t think they should resign,” D’Aguilar said.

He added: “I personally, this is Dionisio D’Aguilar speaking, I don’t personally think they’ve done anything wrong and they’re doing an excellent job…

“I mean Minister Dames obviously has done an excellent job in reducing crime and Minister Sands is doing an incredible job in health and expanding and making facilities available at Princess Margaret Hospital, spending the money in healthcare, bringing about the sensible rollout of the National Health Insurance scheme. So, you know, I think they’re both doing an excellent job.”

During a press conference on February 3, PLP Leader Philip Brave Davis said, “I call today on the ministers to do the right thing, according to the conventions of the constitution.

“Failing to do, the prime minister must act.”

On Wednesday, when asked about the PLP’s calls, Sands said, “In terms of a call for my resignation, the devil is a liar. I think the Progressive Liberal Party is looking to restore credibility in their own reason to exist.”

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis also dismissed the calls.

“The PLP can ask for anything,” he said.

“That’s their job. They are opposition. They are to oppose everything with sense.”

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 on the matter, Chief Magistrate Joyann Ferguson-Pratt decried the “egregious” conduct of both ministers.

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”.

Jasper Ward

Staff Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Jasper Ward started The Nassau Guardian in September 2017. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues.
Education: Goldsmith, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice
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