Hurricane Dorian: Transparency, accountability and vision is needed

  • Government has fumbled and compounded the issue

  • PM’s defensive and insensitive commentary not helpful

  • New ministry shows visionless and reactionary governance

  • Lay out total financial costs of political appointments

  • Too many red flags for the Bahamian people to ignore

It has been over three weeks since Hurricane Dorian blew through The Bahamas. In its wake, the storm has left behind a trail of death and destruction; upending the lives of thousands of Bahamians and doing untold damage to the country’s second and third largest economies.

As our nation works to peel back the layers of this unimaginable tragedy, the men and women tasked with managing this crisis are compounding the many issues that have arisen and will continue to arise. For more than three weeks, we have watched this administration fumble its way through the recovery efforts in Abaco and Grand Bahama Island.

In the immediate aftermath of the storm, we witnessed first-hand, delays in evacuating traumatized Bahamians from the affected islands, followed by the ineffective distribution of aid supplies meant for Dorian survivors. Even worse still, at a time when Bahamians looked to their government for hope in the face of a national travesty, the country and the world watched in horror as the Prime Minister offered only defensive and insensitive commentary regarding his government's plans for the impacted islands and their residents.

The recent creation of a new government ministry meant to manage disaster preparedness and reconstruction and the appointment of Iram Lewis as the Minister of State is symbolic of the same visionless and reactionary governance we have come to expect from this administration.

At a time when the government should be honing in on a strategy which focuses on providing real relief in the short, medium and long term, the Minnis administration has chosen to waste scarce public resources - which in this case can and should be going to Bahamians in need - to fund more government bureaucracy and red tape.

The Democratic National Alliance (DNA) on behalf of the Bahamian people, demand that the government fully lays out the financial costs associated with the establishment of this ministry, including any salaries and or stipends awarded to the various political appointees. This should be added to existing costs for appointees who already hold roles in other government departments, ministries and authorities.  

We note that the necessary safeguards and plans to implement a culture of transparency particularly as it relates to the millions of dollars in monetary and in-kind donations already given to the relief effort as well as millions allocated for loans and other financial guarantees was notably absent from the PM’s announcement.

The PM has been known for “talking the talk” on transparency and accountability in governance but has failed miserably to “walk the walk” on this issue. In fact, the track record of successive governments on the issue of financial transparency has left much to be desired. The DNA and Bahamians everywhere must be assured that the government will be made to account for the effective and fair distribution of any and all donations in addition to ensuring that allocated government funds do not magically wind up in the bank accounts of government cronies and political supporters.

The DNA is not oblivious to the impact that a catastrophe of this magnitude can have on a nation like ours. We are fully aware of the challenges facing the government. However, we cannot and should not ignore red flags when we see them.  Now more than ever, the decisions of our government must consider the long-term ramifications for all the islands of The Bahamas. Now more than ever we must work to ensure that the decisions we make today, also make sense for the generations who will read about Dorian’s impact in the history books.

It is our collective hope that our nation’s leader and his advisors can safely navigate these treacherous waters and guide our beautiful Bahamaland into an era of safety security and prosperity.

Buscheme Armbrister

Deputy Leader

Democratic National Alliance