Former PM Minnis says PLP’s plan “impossible” but PM Davis says his administration is up to the task
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Amid criticisms from former Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis on the Progressive Liberal Party’s (PLP) campaign promise to build a new hospital on New Providence and Grand Bahama, Minister of Health Dr Michael Darville said the government will focus on improvements to existing facilities and renovations.
When asked to respond to criticisms that the promise of a new hospital was an election ploy, Darville said: “The [need] for a new hospital is paramount.
“I can tell you this much — that under this administration, we will be moving very rapidly to address that additional need, while at the same time doing the necessary renovations and improvements at our current tertiary facilities.
“That is absolutely paramount.
“So, I do agree that we need to improve upon what we have while we begin to lay solid plans to construct a new facility here in New Providence, as well as on the island of Grand Bahama.”
In the PLP’s “Blueprint for Change” plan released in the weeks ahead of the general election, the PLP promised to build a new hospital on New Providence through a public-private partnership (PPP) while making improvements to Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH), and construct a new hospital on Grand Bahama through a PPP.
Following a Free National Movement (FNM) Central Council meeting on Wednesday night, Minnis said he and his team did a complete assessment for a new hospital in 2010 while he was minister of health, and determined the cost was $650 million.
He said when his administration took office seven years later, the decision was made to build new facilities of the hospital in stages because $650 million could not be afforded, noting that that decision was made before the economic shocks of Hurricane Dorian and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“So, it is impossible,” Minnis said of the PLP’s promise.
At the Davis administration’s first Cabinet meeting yesterday, “this is almost overbearing” were the words used by Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis to describe the challenges the country faces.
“We accepted this challenge because we are up to it and I am confident each and every one of you around this table are up to that task,” Davis told his Cabinet colleagues.
Underscoring the importance of managing the ongoing health crisis and putting the economy on better footing, Davis said unless the pandemic is “under control, everything else is lost”.
Turning to the media, Davis said: “To the press, we hope to be as transparent as possible.
“There are matters which, of course, if you would have heard the oath taken, you know that there are matters that inure to the good governance of the country. [Those] things cannot be divulged, but we will be as transparent and as open, and ministers will be available to you to discuss matters in their portfolio as we move on to keep the country abreast about what we are doing and why we are doing what we are doing.”
Deputy Prime Minister Chester Cooper said with the experience and skills around the table, he is confident the challenges facing the country will be tackled head-on on behalf of the Bahamian people.