Impractical to avoid issuing contracts to relatives of public, govt. officials
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Amid controversy surrounding governments issuance of contracts to politicians and/or their relatives, Clearing Bank Association Chairman Gowen Bowe said it is impractical to outright stop issuing contracts to the family members of politicians or government officials in The Bahamas.
“To say there will be no dealings with a Cabinet minister or member of Parliament or a government official is very difficult,” Bowe said.
In a recent interview with Eyewitness News Friday, Bowe also said such a policy would appear discriminatory.
He indicated that it is simply not the case that people who become public officials or government officials do not have business interests.
“And then the question is, ‘are those the type of persons you want in government’,” Bowe asked.
“And then, if they’re in government, you’re saying that they are not allowed to continue business ventures.”
Bowe’s comments follow widespread public debate over former Cabinet Minister Brent Symonette and his involvement in the agreement for the government to lease the Town Centre Mall for the relocated General Post Office.
Symonette and his brother own the Town Centre Mall.
It was also recently revealed that the brother of former Minister for Grand Bahama Michael Darville entered into a ten-year contract with the previous administration to lease the building which house the National Training Agency.
The Christie administration entered the agreement while Darville sat as a Cabinet minister, though he has refuted there was any breach of Cabinet procedure as he had no involvement in the deal, nor did he have an interest in the building.
Bowe suggested that moving forward, when government decides to enter into agreements, it should prove to the public that decision was the best choice.
“So… when you come to the Bahamian people; come to the members of Parliament, you’re not just saying, ‘trust me I know best’,” he said.
“You’re saying that I have recognized that there is the potential conflict of interest, even though I don’t necessarily believe there is, [and] I have done all things to ensure that it is not only transparent, but it is on market terms and I am presenting it to you.”