Practical policy needed in the aftermath of this natural disaster, says PLP leader
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Opposition Leader Philip Brave Davis yesterday expressed concern thatcreation of a Ministry of Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, represents another “layer of bureaucracy” with “another political head”.
During a press conference at the Office of the Prime Minister, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis has appointed Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Public Works Iram Lewis as the Minister of State for the new ministry. He is expected to be sworn in today.
In a statement, Davis said the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) is deeply concerned with the lack of leadership, asserting that a clear direction and vision through practical policy was needed in the aftermath of this natural disaster and crisis.
“The substantive political head is the prime minister who must do his job,” Davis said. “NEMA must be structurally and functionally transformed from a coordination body to a fully resourced corporate sole entity. It has been almost three weeks since Dorian made landfall and left and the government does not appear any more prepared to deal this national emergency than it was in the days leading up to and after Dorian’s landfall.”
The main body of the ministry is expected to function as an authority, similar to the Public Hospitals Authority, and is expected to have the power and instruments to act with “great flexibility and rapidly”. The National Emergency Management Agency is also expected to be restructured. The new ministry and NEMA will remain at the Office of the Prime Minister.
The prime minister was unable to confirm the budget allocation for the new ministry, advising that Cabinet will discuss the matter on Tuesday.
The PLP leader pointed out that NEMA is the statutory authority and executing mechanism to manage national emergencies.
Suggesting many of the details on how the new ministry will coordinate with other government agencies responding to the storm, and which entities would be answerable to which, remained vague, Davis asked how does the combined reporting relations make for a smoother and more efficient operation.
“Clearly the government is shooting from the hips and the seat of their pants as a result of the strong pushback and criticism from the ill-advised appointment of Senate President Kay Forbes-Smith as storm coordinator,”
“Her decisions have created long lines and unacceptable delays in receiving relief supplies. We decry these long lines as deepening the frustration and an affront to the dignity of those affected, many of whom have lost everything including the lives of loved ones. This decision is unhelpful and is yet another example of political waste with another permanent secretary and all the structure and expenses that go along with the establishment of a new ministry.”
In the aftermath of the storm Davis called for the resumption of Parliament.
He again made that call yesterday, saying there was sufficient time for a recall to debate many of the details and chart a collective course forward.
When asked whether the government deemed in necessary to recall Parliament, Minnis said, “You don’t resume House just because the leader of the opposition says so or just for resuming sake. You must resume for a reason and you must come back with information that you can give to the public; not to pontificate.”
Davis added that while the residents impacted and first responders tuned in to hear a message of clarity and direction for the way forward, they were “fed an incoherent dose of confusion with the announcement of another layer of bureaucracy that will fuel more delays and deepen the level of dissatisfaction, anger and frustration among our people”.