Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis yesterday sent a stern warning to his ministers after the remainder of his Cabinet was sworn in, promising they would be immediately fired if he caught wind of any of them being involved in anything unethical.
“I want to send a message to my ministers, that should you engage in unsavory or (make) unethical requests to the permanent secretary and I discover or find this out, you will immediately be fired,” Minnis said after the swearing in of ministers in the upper gardens at Government House grounds.
“And I say to the permanent secretaries, should you not report such behavior and allow it to fester, you, too, shall be fired. It’s now the people’s time.”
Minnis’ remarks were greeted with wild applause.
They were also a direct jab at the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) and former Prime Minister Perry Christie, who had a reputation for not disciplining errant Cabinet ministers.
There were 15 Cabinet ministers sworn in yesterday.
Elizabeth MP Dr. Duane Sands was sworn in as minister of health.
Mount Moriah MP Marvin Dames was sworn in as minister of national security.
Free Town MP Dionisio D’Aguilar was sworn in as minister of tourism and aviation, with responsibility for Bahamasair.
South Beach MP Jeffrey Lloyd is now minister of education, science and technology.
Southern Shores MP Frankie Campbell is minister of transport and local government.
North Abaco MP Darren Henfield is minister of foreign affairs.
Marathon MP Romauld Ferreira is minister of the environment and housing.
Marco City MP Michael Pintard is minister of youth, sports and culture.
Senator Dion Foulkes is minister of labor.
St. Anne’s MP Brent Symonette is minister of financial services, trade and industry, and immigration.
Renward Wells is minister of agriculture and marine resources.
Seabreeze MP Lanisha Rolle, the sole woman in Cabinet, is minister of social services and urban development.
Garden Hills MP Brensil Rolle is minister of state for public service and National Insurance in the Office of the Prime Minister.
Yamacraw MP Elsworth Johnson is minister of state in the Ministry of Legal Affairs in the Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Legal Affairs.
Pineridge MP Kwasi Thompson is minister of state for Grand Bahama in the Office of the Prime Minister.
The group joins Senator Carl Bethel, who was sworn in on Friday as attorney general and minister of legal affairs, and Deputy Prime Minister and East Grand Bahama MP Peter Turnquest, who was sworn in as minister of finance the same day.
Carmichael MP Desmond Bannister was not able to attend the ceremony yesterday, but will become minister of works.
Dr. Minnis said he will hold the Cabinet to the highest standard of ethical conduct in the performance of its duties.
“I look forward to working with you in a spirit of collegiality and collaboration, in a government which adheres to collective responsibility,” Minnis said.
“In congratulating you on your appointments, I commend to you the values of honesty, hard work, sacrifice and an abiding commitment to the dignity of the Bahamian people.
“We must never forget that we serve as the people’s government, and that means all the people.
“The spirit of democracy must be our constant companion and guiding light.
“Each day we must work to maintain the confidence and trust of the people who voted for a new day.
“Every decision we make must be with the intention of improving the lives of our people.
“If they see us working hard; if they see us using public funds wisely; if they see us doing their business with integrity and humility; then, and only then, will we have truly earned their fuller trust.”
Minnis also noted that the minister of state for Grand Bahama will be given greater statutory powers through the Office of the Prime Minister.
He also said his Cabinet and parliamentary colleagues will go through an orientation program conducted by Bahamian and international experts “to harness and hone the talents of the members of the new people’s government”.
“This orientation will include information on the constitution; our parliamentary system of government; public finance; the proper working of Cabinet government; a code of ethics and other relevant areas of government,” he said.
“My colleagues should remember that their role as Cabinet ministers is to set policy and to make sure that policy is carried out, not to act as administrators.”
Minnis himself will have no clearly defined portfolio.
“In keeping with a commitment I previously made, I will not hold another substantive ministry, although some items may remain in the portfolio of the Office of the Prime Minister,” Minnis said.
“I made this decision in order to perform my primary constitutional duty as prime minister. This primary constitutional duty is the coordination and oversight of the Cabinet of The Bahamas.”
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