NASSAU – Warning of “immediate termination” as a consequence of “unethical” behaviour from Cabinet ministers and permanent secretaries, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis vowed to run his administration by the highest standards of conduct as 15 ministers took the oath of office at Government House yesterday.
This includes 12 substantive ministers and three ministers of state.
Carmichael MP-elect Desmond Bannister, who was absent from yesterday’s ceremony, will be sworn in as minister of works at a later date, Dr Minnis said.
During the ceremony where hundreds gathered to witness the remaining members of Dr Minnis’ administration sworn in, the nation’s new leader pledged that the government will be marked by “order and punctuality”.
He further suggested that this administration will be one of less talk and more action.
The new appointees will have their first Cabinet meeting Tuesday.
In May 2012, the Christie administration appointed a Cabinet of 21 – 16 ministers and five ministers of state. Three parliamentary secretaries were also appointed at the time.
“I repeat the charge that I made last week at the swearing in of two of your colleagues,” Dr Minnis said, “fidelity in the oath you swore today is essential in order to provide the Bahamian people with a government of integrity.
“Good and open government demands transparency and accountability. Good governance demands being responsible for our actions.
“Accordingly I will hold ministers to the highest standards of ethical conduct in performance of their public duties,” Dr Minnis continued.
“And I want to send a message to my ministers: Should you engage in unsavoury or unethical requests to the permanent secretaries and I discover or find this out, you will immediately be fired.
“And I say to the permanent secretaries should you not report such behaviour and allow it to fester, you too will be fired.
“It is now the people’s time.”
Dr Minnis explained his decision not to take on a substantive ministry or portfolio, aside from those items which fall under the Office of the Prime Minister.
“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.
“And as I have repeatedly noted, my government will be one of collegiality, collective responsibility and collaboration. I pledge also collaboration and regular consultation with parliamentary colleagues. “
In choosing the makeup of his Cabinet, the prime minister said he wanted effective and meaningful change. To do this, Dr Minnis said it was essential to include a new generation of leaders as well as ministers with experience in government.
Those who were sworn in yesterday are: St Anne’s MP-elect Brent Symonette, minister of financial services, trade and industry, and immigration; Bamboo Town MP-elect Renward Wells, minister of agriculture and marine resources; Elizabeth MP-elect Dr Duane Sands, minister of health; Mt Moriah MP-elect Marvin Dames, minister of national security and Sea Breeze MP-elect Lanisha Rolle, minister of social services and urban development.
The list also includes Southern Shores MP-elect Frankie Campbell, minister of transport and local government; South Beach MP-elect Jeffery Lloyd, minister of education; Marathon MP-elect Romauld Ferreira, minister of environment and housing; Dion Foulkes, minister of labour; North Abaco MP-elect Darren Henfield, minister of foreign affairs; Marco City MP-elect Michael Pintard, minister of youth, sports and culture and Free Town MP-elect Dionisio D’Aguilar, minister of tourism, aviation and Bahamasair.
Garden Hills MP-elect Brensil Rolle will serve as minister of state for the public service and National Insurance in the Office of the Prime Minister. Kwasi Thompson will serve as minister of state for Grand Bahama in the Office of the Prime Minister.
Yamacraw MP Elsworth Johnson will serve as minister of state for legal affairs in the Office of the Attorney General and the Ministry of Legal Affairs.