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New PM: People want less talk, more action

Dr Hubert Minnis, Prime Minister of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas, brought remarks at the Swearing-in Ceremony of Cabinet Ministers, Government House 15 May, 2017. Read his comments here. 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Here follows remarks by Dr Hubert Minnis, Prime Minister of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas, at the Swearing-in Ceremony of Cabinet Ministers, Government House 15 May, 2017:

‘Continuity and Change’

Your Excellency, Dame Marguerite Pindling;
Chief Justice, Sir Hartman Longley;
Colleagues and Members of Parliament-elect;
Secretary to the Cabinet;
Permanent Secretaries;
Invited Guests;
Ladies and Gentlemen:

Your Excellency:
I have occasion once again to thank you for your gracious hospitality, and that of the fine staff of Government House. Today, we continue the formation of the People’s Government.

The Bahamian people deserve a government that respects time and proper functioning of government. My administration will be marked by order and punctuality. We will strive to be an organized government.

The Bahamian people want less talk and more action. Brevity is not the enemy of effective communication.

I thank Your Excellency for swearing me in as Prime Minister the day after the general election. The Minister of Finance, and the Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs were sworn in the following day.

Today the remainder of the Cabinet has been sworn in. Tomorrow, God willing, will be the first Cabinet meeting of my Government.
Preparation for the Speech from the Throne, setting out my government’s vision and agenda for change, will now begin in earnest.

In due course I will advise other appointments, including to the Senate and diplomatic service. The reassignment of senior officers in the Public Service will also be announced at the appropriate times after consultation with ministerial colleagues.
And we will begin the process of identifying individuals to serve on government boards and councils.

The People’s Government is ready to do the people’s business.
In keeping with a commitment I previously made, I will not hold another substantive ministry, although some items may remain in the portfolio of 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.

Your Excellency:
As I noted last Friday, in order to best serve the Bahamian people, my Cabinet will blend experience with new talent and faces in government.

The most successful enterprises, whether business, civic, religious or governmental, are characterized by continuity and change.

Innovation and transformation are rooted in building on what works and changing what does not work.

The most cohesive and more enduring families are those that combine the continuity, the experience and the wisdom of the elders alongside the energy and dynamism of new blood ready for change.

When I was growing up my mother would remind me that in order to avoid bucking my toe, that I should get the advice of my elders and of people with experience when making a decision.

Like strong families and successful enterprises, good governance requires continuity and change!

I have lived long enough to know that you first have to understand whichever organization or system you are working in before you can bring about effective change.

Because I want effective and meaningful change and a strong team, it is essential that my cabinet include a new generation of leaders as well as ministers with experience in government.

Five members of Cabinet, including myself, previously served in Cabinet. Fourteen ministers are serving in the Cabinet for the first time.

A number of ministers previously served in Parliament, either as Senator or as a Member of Parliament. However, the majority of the Cabinet are new to Parliament.

I am pleased to note the members of Cabinet.

K. Peter Turnquest, Deputy Prime and Minister of Finance;

Carl Bethel, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs;

Brent Symonette: Minister of Financial Services, Trade and Industry, and Immigration;

Desmond Bannister: Minister of Works;

Renward Wells: Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources;

Dr. Duane Sands: Minister of Health;

Marvin Dames: Minister of National Security;

Lanisha Rolle: Minister of Social Services and Urban Development;

Frankie Campbell: Minister of Transport and Local Government;

Jeffery Lloyd: Minister of Education;

Romauld Ferreira, Minister of Environment and Housing;

Dion Foulkes: Minister of Labour;

Darren Allen Henfield: Minister of Foreign Affairs;

Michael Pintard: Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture;

Dionisio D’Aguilar: Minister of Tourism, Aviation and Bahamasair;

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;

and Ellsworth Johnson will serve as Minister of State for Legal Affairs in the Office of the Attorney General and the Ministry of Legal Affairs.

I note that in the interest of ongoing reform in the Public Service, there is a Minister of State for the Public Service in the Office of the Prime Minister.

As the previous Ministry for Grand Bahama had little statutory power, I advised the appointment of a State Minister for Grand Bahama in the Office of the Prime Minister, where he will have more effective power.

Change and a new day are on the horizon for Grand Bahama.
Your Excellency:

I believe Bahamians will be proud of this new change team. It is a dynamic team representing a diversity of talent, ideas, as well as life and professional experience.

The diversity of professional experience includes finance and business, medicine, civil society, national security and the law, among other fields.

As I stated last week, community service and volunteerism will be a major theme of my government. In this spirit I note that many members of Cabinet have lent considerable time, talent and treasure in community service.

To harness and hone the talents of the members of the new People’s Government, my cabinet and parliamentary colleagues will have the benefit of an orientation program conducted by Bahamian and international experts.

This orientation will include information on the Constitution; our parliamentary system of government; public finance; the proper working of cabinet government; a code of ethics and other relevant areas of government.

My colleagues should remember that their role as cabinet ministers is to set policy and to make sure that policy is carried out, not to act as administrators.
Cabinet Colleagues:

I repeat the charge I made last week at the swearing-in of two of your colleagues. Fidelity to 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 my minsters to the highest standards of ethical conduct in the performance of their public duties.

I look forward to working with you in a spirit of collegiality and collaboration, in a government which adheres to collective responsibility.

In congratulating you on your appointments, I commend to you the values of honesty, hard work, sacrifice and an abiding commitment to the dignity of the Bahamian people.

We must never forget that we serve as the People’s Government, and that means all the people. The spirit of democracy must be our constant companion and guiding light.

Each day we must work to maintain the confidence and trust of the people who voted for a new day. Every decision we make must be with the intention of improving the lives of our people.

If they see us working hard; if they see us using public funds wisely; if they see us doing their business with integrity and humility, then, and only then will we have truly earned their fuller trust.

Your Excellency.

Ladies and Gentlemen:
Let us now look to this new day with confidence and courage as we embark on a new era of transformation.

God bless the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. Thank you and good afternoon.

The inaugural meeting of the Cabinet was held yesterday at the Cecil Wallace Whitfield Centre.

The new Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar says he is humbled by the appointment and says he is committed to increasing the number of visitors to the islands. Watch an interview with the new Minister here.

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