Wednesday, Aug 21, 2019
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Forbes defends decision to travel with Sands

Mangrove Cay and South Andros MP Picewell Forbes yesterday defended his decision to travel to Andros with Health Minister Dr. Duane Sands.

The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP), of which Forbes is a member, has called for the resignations or dismissal of 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.

Forbes said “there’s nothing problematic” about his trip with Sands, which aimed to determine the needs of healthcare facilities in his constituency, and that “politics is politics but at the end of the day I’ve been elected to serve the people of this community”.

“He’s carrying out his duty,” Forbes said.

“He’s coming to my district. He came and I’m accommodating the minister. All the other issues will be dealt with in the halls of Parliament.”

But the PLP is currently boycotting Parliament as it continues its calls for the resignations. Forbes joined his PLP colleagues in walking out the House of Assembly in protest on February 14.

Forbes said: “I think I should be glad to welcome him…I think if he was going to San Salvador and he informs the leader then the leader would go. I don’t see a problem with that.”

Cat Island, Rum Cay and San Salvador MP Philip Brave Davis, who is also the PLP leader, declined to comment when reached.

When asked if he was among the PLPs calling for the resignation of Sands, Forbes said, “I will stick with what the party is saying. You know exactly what the party is saying. I am in my constituency with the minister. You stick with what the party is saying, what the chairman has said, what the leader has said. You stick with those. I am not making any comment further on that.”

Smith was charged in 2017 with abusing his position as chairman of the 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 at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. 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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