Grant Fails to Ensure Salaries of Screeners Paid

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Former Prime Minister Perry Christie joined with junkanooers at a rally in 2007.

The following is a statement by PLP Chairman Glenys Hanna Martin, former Minister of Transport regarding the recent comments made by Minister of Tourism and Aviation, Hon Neko Grant in Exuma.

It was with a degree of great disbelief that I listened to the comments of the Minister of Tourism and Aviation, Hon Neko Grant at a recent town meeting in Exuma, purportedly in response to a question by an airport screener as to why the salaries of airport screeners in Exuma had not recently been paid by the Bahamas government.

The Hon minister, with a straight face in the presence of Exumians, and in front of television cameras, said that the previous administration had “improperly hired” the screeners in Exuma and that that was the reason their salaries had been stopped. This, despite the fact that this minister has had portfolio responsibility for aviation and the Exuma screeners for more than one year and that their salaries have been stopped under his watch.

I say categorically that the minister’s assertions are false. His claim is not true.

The screeners hired nationwide were duly hired under my watch, under delegated powers and immediately thereafter, recommendations were made to have the officers appointed on a permanent basis. They were so appointed, in the first instance, to ensure the deadline implemented by the International Civil Aviation Organization as to 100 per cent screening at all international airports was met in the Bahamas. I am advised that despite that recommendation being made more than two years ago, these persons have yet to be regularized.

The appointment of the screeners, as is the case with all public servants, is done under the supervision and advice of the Department of Public Service in accordance with the provisions of general orders and the rules of the Public Service and not willy nilly by political personalities who form the government of the day. To claim that people were brought into the public service and paid from the public treasury for more than two years “improperly” is obscene. The minister’s performance in Exuma was an act of political cowardice designed to disguise his incompetence in the performance of his duties in two critical areas of national development, tourism and aviation. He should know by now that the Bahamian people will not be satisfied with excuses and scapegoating and expect duly appointed ministers to carry out their duties without ducking and diving.
His performance in Exuma appears to have been a deliberate act of misleading the Bahamian public with the sole purpose of evading responsibility for his constitutional duties.

Minister Grant should explain to the screeners why, despite the elapse of more than one year, these persons have not yet been regularized and further, why they are not now being paid. These people should have, by now, been regularized by the Bahamas government and they ought to be paid. I call on Minister Grant to forthwith apologize to the Exuma airport screeners, to the people of Exuma and Bahamians generally for his lack of forthrightness.