Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Philip Brave Davis yesterday labeled the establishment of the Ministry of Disaster Preparedness, Recovery and Reconstruction as “another layer of bureaucracy with another political head” and an example of waste.
“NEMA (National Emergency Management Agency) is the statutory authority and executing mechanism to manage all national emergencies,” Davis said in a statement.
“We do not agree that another layer of bureaucracy with another political head will solve the myriad of challenges facing the government in this national effort.”
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced the establishment of the ministry in a press conference yesterday as part of the recovery plan in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, which ravaged parts of Abaco and Grand Bahama earlier this month.
Central Grand Bahama MP Iram Lewis was appointed minister of state in the new ministry, which will function from the Office of the Prime Minister.
The opposition leader said his party is “deeply concerned about the lack of leadership in communicating a clear direction through practical policy response by the government.”
“The substantive political head is the prime minister who must do his job. NEMA must be structurally and functionally transformed from a coordination body to a fully resourced corporate sole entity,” he said.
“It has been almost three weeks since Dorian made landfall and left and the government does not appear any more prepared to deal with this national emergency than it was in the days leading up to and after Dorian’s landfall.
“There was sufficient time for a recall of Parliament to debate much of the details and to chart a collective course going forward.”
Davis questioned how the recovery effort will work with so many different roles being recently announced to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.
“The recently announced storm coordinators report to the NEMA executive director?” Davis asked.
“Does NEMA report to this new ministry? What is the state minister for Grand Bahama affairs doing as relief and restoration should be the major focus of that ministry? On the major issues of security and public safety, are the security forces subject to this new ministry? How do these new and combined reporting relationships make for a smoother and more efficient operation?”
Davis said the prime minister’s decision is unhelpful and is yet another example of political waste with “another permanent secretary and all the structures and expenses that go with the establishment of a new ministry.”