New minister of tourism sworn into office

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Minister of Tourism and Aviation the Hon. Vincent Vanderpool Wallace is sworn into office by Deputy to the Governor General, His Excellency Sir Arthur Foulkes during a swearing in ceremony at Government House on Monday, July 7, 2008. (BIS Photo/Patrick Hanna)

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs the Hon. Michael Barnett and Minister of Tourism and Aviation the Hon. Vincent Vanderpool Wallace were sworn into office during a ceremony at Government House Monday morning.

Remarks by the Rt. Hon. Hubert A. Ingraham
Prime Minister on the Occasion of the Swearing-in of
the Attorney General and the Minister of Tourism Government House
7 July 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Good Morning,

I should like first of all to thank the Deputy to the Governor General for making the Senatorial appointments, presiding over this important ceremony and for administering the oath of office and the oath of allegiance. Thank you, Sir.

We have just witnessed the swearing-in of two members of my Cabinet: Michael Barnett charged with responsibilities for the Office of the Attorney General and the Ministry of Legal Affairs; and Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, with responsibility for the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation.

It gives me great pleasure to have these two gentlemen serve in my Cabinet. Both are well known to you, Excellency and, indeed, to the Bahamian people.

Both are making substantial financial sacrifices by accepting the call to public service.

Both are eager to make a difference in the public affairs and development of The Bahamas.

Both are eminently qualified for the jobs assigned them. Indeed, both are leaders in their respective disciplines and have earned the respect and admiration of colleagues, the public and, even their detractors.

Best known in our community as a competent attorney-at-law and partner at the prestigious law firm of Graham Thompson and Co, we, in the Free National Movement, were very pleased to have Michael join our slate of candidates in the last general election.

We are now very happy to welcome him as a colleague in the Upper Chamber of Parliament and in the Cabinet.

A former Chairman of the Water and Sewerage Corporation Michael was called to the English and Bahamas Bars in 1978.

He has served in many professional and public service capacities including Acting Magistrate, Acting Justice of the Supreme Court, President of the Bahamas Bar Association, Chairman of the Industrial Relations Board, Member of the Financial Services Advisory Committee and Chairman of the Catholic Board of Education.

Michael was educated at St. Augustine’s College here in Nassau and at Georgetown University, Washington D.C., where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics. He studied law at Lincoln’s Inn Law School, London.

A Roman Catholic, Michael is married to the former Camille Liverpool, President of the AIDS Foundation, and the couple has two daughters, Michela and Viola.

We in the Free National Movement have been fortunate to number among our party’s supporters competent and accomplished professionals from many walks of life. We are especially pleased to number Vincent among them.

Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, C.M.G., has had a long and distinguished career in tourism in both the public and private sector of The Bahamas and in our Region.

Fifteen years ago I was pleased to approve the appointment of Vincent as Director General of Tourism in the Ministry of Tourism, a position in which he distinguished himself for 12 years. At the time of his appointment as Director-General of Tourism he was the youngest person ever to hold that post.

Highly regarded in tourism circles both at home and abroad, Vincent, last month, completed a three-year stint as Secretary General of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO). Previously, he was engaged for 11 years at Resorts International (Bahamas) Ltd. where he held a number of senior managerial positions.

A former Chairman of the Management Committee of the Bahamas Tourism Training Centre, Director of both the Central Bank of The Bahamas and the Bank of The Bahamas, and Chairman of the Hotel Corporation of The Bahamas, Vincent assumes responsibility for our number one industry. He is not only well prepared for the challenges ahead, but is so recognized throughout the industry.

He was educated at the Government High School in Nassau and graduated from Harvard University with a Bachelor’s Degree cum laude. In 1981 he obtained an MBA degree from the University of Miami.

Vincent, also a Roman Catholic, is the father of four children: Alexandria, Ariana, Cydnay and Khilian .
Ladies and Gentlemen:
I wish to take this opportunity to acknowledge and recognize the contribution of the outgoing Attorney General, Mrs. Claire Hepburn, for her stellar contribution during the past 14 months.

We in the Government are grateful for her willingness to answer the call to national service at short notice and for the important contribution she has made as Attorney General and as Senator.

And, I wish also to recognize and thank Ms. Elma Campbell for her committed service as Minister of State for Immigration and as Senator over the past 14 months and now for her commitment to continue in public service.

I was very pleased when Ms. Campbell agreed to take up a diplomatic posting in Beijing. I have every confidence that she will be an excellent ambassador for our country in the People’s Republic of China.

On behalf of the Government and the people of The Bahamas, I thank you both — Claire and Ellie.

With effect from today, a number of portfolio reallocations come into effect. Two existing Ministers report to new Ministries and one Minister of State assumes portfolio responsibility in a new Ministry.

I wish to comment firstly on the special assignment being shouldered by the Hon. Earl Deveaux at the new Ministry of Environment.

It is the view of the Government that great benefit is to be gained by bringing under one coordinating authority the several departments and agencies of the Government concerned with city and country planning, building and protection of the physical and marine environment.

Earl Deveaux will have the awesome task of implementing the Government’s policies as regards improving standards relative to town planning and protection of our land and marine environment.

We have long expressed an interest in preserving the architectural beauty of our towns and settlements; we are committed to protecting residential neighbourhoods from the infiltration of businesses, including heavy industry; and we have protested against the destruction of unspoiled wooded areas, wetlands, beaches and shorelines. We aim to give teeth to our commitments.

Earl is now mandated to ensure the readiness of the new Town Planning Bill and the new Private Roads and Subdivision Bill for enactment and implementation; and to further ensure that The Bahamas lives up to its commitments under international environment conventions and treaties to which we are party.

Importantly, he is mandated to bring order to the Environmental Impact Assessment process so that we can achieve the protection of the environment, without frustrating investors and developers as we seem to do all too often.

Minister Deveaux will be assisted in the execution of his portfolio assignment by Phenton Neymour who is eminently qualified for the assignment of Minister of State in the Ministry of Environment.

The Hon. Neko Grant, former Minister of Tourism and Aviation assumes responsibility for the Ministry of Public Works and Transport.

Minister Grant has the responsibility for the efficient and timely completion of the expanded New Providence Road Improvement Programme; the timely undertaking and completion of work to ready Nassau Harbour to receive the newest and largest cruise liners now under construction; the expeditious conclusion of a number of Family Island Road construction, reconstruction and improvement projects; the construction of new government office complexes in New Providence, Grand Bahama and Abaco; and improving efficiencies in traffic management and in the Building Control Unit, in consultation with the Ministry of the Environment.

Both the Ministry of Public Works and the Ministry of the Environment will join with the Ministry of Tourism to ensure that Government’s plans for the revitalization of the City of Nassau are brought to fruition in a timely fashion.

Also, closely tied to our plans for the strengthening of our tourism sector, will be the phased redevelopment and expansion of the Lynden Pindling International Airport. As would be expected, Mr. Vanderpool-Wallace, as Minister responsible for Aviation, is assuming responsibility for relations with the Airport Authority and, hence, with the Nassau Airport Development Company (NAD).

The Hon. Desmond Bannister, previously Minister of State in the Office of the Attorney General, assumes full portfolio responsibility for the Ministry of Youth Sports and Culture where he will be ably supported by the Hon. Charles Maynard who continues in the post of Minister of State for Culture.

Desmond has a longstanding interest in the development of the youth of our country.

I am pleased that he has agreed to take on these new responsibilities which will permit him to shape and fine tune the programmes and projects being implemented by my Government in support of our young people.

He is, I believe, an excellent example and role model to young persons as both an individual committed to healthy lifestyles in sport and as an officer of the court.

Adjustments have also been made to the portfolios of other Ministers, all of which become effective today.

Responsibility for Immigration has been relocated to the portfolio of the Deputy Prime Minister who will be assisted in that assignment by Minister of State the Hon. Branville McCartney, formerly Minister of State in the Ministry of Tourism.

Responsibility for Broadcasting moves from the Office of the Prime Minister to the Ministry of National Security.

The Hon. Tommy Turnquest, Minister of National Security will be assisted with Broadcasting matters by Parliamentary Secretary, Senator Kay Smith who will be responsible to both the Office of the Prime Minister, where she is posted, and the Communications and Broadcasting Unit in the Ministry of National Security.

The Ministry of National Security will coordinate with the Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Legal Affairs to bring increased focus to improving efficiencies in the legal and judicial systems with a view to effectively reducing the incidence of crime as well as the fear of crime.

The Ministry of Legal Affairs has been mandated to ensure that the completion of the Magistrates Court complex on Nassau and Meeting Streets is brought to a satisfactory conclusion and that plans for the construction of a new Supreme Court are appropriately accelerated.

Under the direction of the Hon. Ken Russell, the Ministry of Housing has been mandated to commence Government’s Housing programme. Construction of houses and readying of fully-serviced residential lots to meet the growing demand in New Providence and in the Family Islands, particularly in Abaco and Exuma, will begin shortly. Parliamentary Secretary, Mr. Brensil Rolle will continue to serve in the Ministry of Housing.

The Ministry of Health has been mandated to bring increased attention to the improvement of the overall health statistics for The Bahamas with special focus on infant mortality.

And, the planning and construction of a long-awaited and much-needed new hospital will be commenced under the watchful eye of the Minister of Health, the Hon. Hubert Minnis, and his administrative team.

The Ministry of Education, under the direction of the Hon. Carl Bethel, will continue to hold responsibility for relations with The Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI). The Ministry will concentrate its attention on the improvement of student achievement. Concurrently, proper and timely maintenance and expansion of the public education plant to meet the needs of our communities, most particularly our business community, will be assured.

Senator the Hon. Dion Foulkes, Minister of Labour and Social Development, will continue to pursue and implement our policies crafted to ensure a constructive work environment which engenders respect for workers and productivity for employers.

This Ministry, with added responsibility for urban renewal, social welfare and consumer protection, is charged to ensure that the current global instability, as regards energy and food costs, is not permitted to compromise the welfare of those in our society least able to assist themselves.

In this regard, Minister Foulkes will receive the able assistance of the Minister of State, the Hon. Loretta Butler-Turner.

Minister Turner has the distinction of being the sole female in my Cabinet. The number of women in the Cabinet is not what I would ideally wish it to be. I think you know where I stand on that matter.

But I am consoled by the fact that Minister Turner represents 50% of the women elected from my Party’s slate which included six first class female candidates.

Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen:

The Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources will be fully engaged with initiatives to improve outreach and support to producers of food crops and processed foods during this time of exploding food costs internationally.

Important to these initiatives will be the declaration of a network of marine protected areas. In train since 1999, this programme, we believe, will play an important role in the enhancement and sustainability of the fisheries sector.

Indicative of the inter-connectedness of our economy, in addition to liaison with the Ministry of the Environment on marine protected areas, Minister Larry Cartwright, who also holds responsibility for the Down Home Fish Fry and the Potters Cay Dock, is being required to join with his colleague Ministers with responsibility for Tourism, Public Works and the Environment to reverse the decline that was permitted to invade and permeate so many aspects of Old Nassau.

And so the upgrade of these two important fresh fish and vegetable outlets for residents and visitors alike will become part and parcel of the revitalization of the City of Nassau.

I note that with the dissolution of the Ministry of Lands and Local Government, responsibility for these important portfolios have been folded into the Office of the Prime Minister.

As a result of this additional responsibility, I elected to bring the Hon. Byran Woodside, formerly Minister of State for Youth into the Office of the Prime Minister, as Minister of State for Lands and Local Government.

And, I have charged Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance, the Hon. Zhivargo Laing, to provide special focus to accelerating the process of public sector reform, placing special focus on the need to improve service to the general public as a priority.

I also note that it is my Government’s intention to inaugurate the National Prescription Drug Programme in the shortest possible time.

Considerable progress has been made in developing the framework and guidelines for the programme and so we expect soon to be able to move forward also with the development and implementation of the National Catastrophic Health Insurance Programme promised in Manifesto 07.

I thank all the members of my Cabinet for their dedicated and faithful service thus far, and acknowledge the commitment which each has expressed in continuing to serve and, in some cases, to take on new and additional responsibilities.

I believe that today’s appointments, together with the new allocation of Ministerial responsibilities, bode well for our country.

It would be remiss of me if I did not, as has long been my custom, use this occasion to remind Ministers that governance is about choices, about equity and compassion. Our service to the Bahamian people must be full, patriotic, loyal and uncorrupted.
Devotion to duty, expressed by tolerance, and service to our people, our cause, and our commitments, is expected of each of you, not some of the time, but all of the time.

In concluding, I wish to repeat that I am especially happy to have both Michael and Vincent join my team and thank them for agreeing to take on these important national offices. I have every confidence that they will meet my full expectations.

Gentlemen:

I look forward to working with you and I am confident that together with our other colleagues in the Government we will continue to build a better Bahamas.

Your Excellency:

Thank you for so graciously receiving us this morning.

Colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen:

I assure you of my fullest support and dedication to our Bahamas.