Cooper: New minister of finance must understand depth of the economic crisis

A new minister of finance, should Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis renounce the role, should be someone who is competent in the field of business, accounting, finance or economics and is prepared to quickly get up to speed on the country’s economic situation and create a short-term economic plan, Shadow Minister of Finance Chester Cooper told Guardian Business yesterday, adding that that person does not necessarily need to come from the ranks of those in the House of Assembly.

Minnis, who became the Minister of Finance after Peter Turnquest resigned from the role Wednesday, is expected to appoint someone new to the role.

Cooper said this new person must have his or her finger on the pulse of the country’s dire economic situation.

“It certainly has to be somebody who is prepared to listen to the technocrats, prepared to consult experts on subject matters, someone who has an appreciation and an understanding for the depth of the economic crisis and a heart to comprehend social pressures,” said Cooper.

Turnquest resigned from the position amid concerns over allegations that he helped to defraud two companies of around $28 million.

While Minnis holds the position of minister of finance for the moment, he said in a statement on Wednesday night that he will “make a substantive appointment in due course”.

Cooper said while that appointment can be from outside of Parliament, the prime minister would have to “do some machination” to get that person in the Senate.

“But there are a lot of qualified Bahamians out there capable of doing the job,” he said.

According to Cooper, he and Turnquest did not allow politics to get in the way of their professional duty to the country, but he said he felt that there was a need for “more transparency and accountability” between them, “especially recently in terms of the current state of the treasury”.

“We had some philosophical differences but he was accessible and beyond the politics we had a fairly good relationship,” Cooper said.

“I’m happy that he did the honorable thing and I wish him well for the future.”

Cooper said he hopes to work closely with the prime minister’s appointee.

“It is my obligation to do what I can to help advance the country and whoever is chosen, I will work with them to the best of my ability,” said Cooper.

“I will hold their feet to the fire, as I did with Mr. Turnquest and hopefully during these crisis times we may be able to make some headway to the benefit of the Bahamian people.”

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Chester Robards

Chester Robards rejoined The Nassau Guardian in November 2017 as a senior business reporter. He has covered myriad topics and events for The Nassau Guardian. Education: Florida International University, BS in Journalism

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