The main opposition Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) of The Bahamas has dismissed the idea of a new ministry to oversee the rehabilitation of areas damaged by Hurricane Dorian.
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced the establishment of the Ministry of Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction. Minnis has named certified architect and project manager Iram Dewitt Lewis Jr to head the new ministry.
But in a statement, PLP leader, Philip Brave Davis said the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) is the statutory authority and executing mechanism to manage all national emergencies.
“We do not agree that another layer of bureaucracy with another political head will solve the myriad of challenges facing the government in this national effort,” Davis said.
He said the party is “deeply concerned about the lack of leadership in communicating a clear direction through practical policy response by the government”.
He said: “The substantive political head is the prime minister who must do his job. 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 with this national emergency than it was in the days leading up to and after Dorian’s landfall.”
He said there was sufficient time for a recall of Parliament to debate much of the details and to chart a collective course going forward. Davis questioned how the recovery effort will work with so many different roles being announced to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.
He added: “Does NEMA report to this new ministry? What is the state minister for Grand Bahama affairs doing as relief and restoration should be the major focus of that ministry? On the major issues of security and public safety, are the security forces subject to this new ministry? How do these new and combined reporting relationships make for a smoother and more efficient operation?”
Davis said the prime minister’s decision is unhelpful and is yet another example of political waste with “another permanent secretary and all the structures and expenses that go with the establishment of a new ministry”. Prime Minister Minnis said on Sunday, (Sept 22) that the new ministry will help to focus and to coordinate the national response for the recovery, and reconstruction of Grand Bahama, and Abaco, respectively.