BANNISTER COMMENTS RANK ABUSE OF PARLIAMENTARY PRIVILEGE

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PLP Chairman Mr. Bradley Roberts.

On Thursday September 21st both the Tribune and Nassau Guardian carried, uncritically I may add, House comments attributed to Works Minister the Hon. Desmond Bannister. One headline read gifted millions and in the other the Minister reportedly highlighted no-bid contracts.

I point out that trading goods and services for money is not a “gift” and as for no-bid contracts, all of the contracts awarded to repair public schools for the current fiscal year were no-bid negotiated contracts – all $20 million worth – so the last people to talk about no-bid contracts should be hypocritical FNM Ministers.

Former Education Minister Jerome Fitzgerald responded that the inference by Bannister that his familial connection was the reason for the contract award to Bahamas Cargo and Logistics, formerly Global Custom Brokers, or that he influenced or benefitted from the contract were both “false and defamatory.” Fitzgerald said he would file a lawsuit and we agree.

Sunshine Insurance for its part responded that at no stage did they ever use any political effort or leverage to seek to influence the outcome of any tender process; we believe them. This insurance broker participated in a sealed tender process for the provision of captive insurance coverage for BEC/BPL in 2013; they won the bid and was awarded the contract. In 2017, four years later, Sunshine Insurance again participated in the same process and the contract was renewed in June 2017 to the period June 2018 under the superintendence of FNM Minister Bannister.

The contract award begs the question of why Minister Bannister refused to intervene in the public interest if he had evidence of impropriety on the part of Sunshine Insurance that he felt corrupted the process. Impropriety is sufficient cause for cancellation and I charge that Bannister has no cause or evidence of impropriety and his posturing and charade in the House were cowardly abuses of parliamentary privilege.

The PLP takes note of the recent appointment of the new Chair of BPL Mrs. Darnell Osborne whom we are advised is employed by J. S. Johnson and publicly question whether there is a nexus between her position at J.S. Johnson and the false declaration Bannister made against Sir Franklyn Wilson and Sunshine Insurance?

Surely Minister Desmond Bannister and Sunshine Insurance cannot both be correct.

If Bannister’s sole aim was to malign the character and reputation of political personalities aligned with the PLP, then the FNM is fair game. His Deputy Prime Minister recently awarded himself a huge contract from Bahamasair and the FNM cabinet reportedly cancelled the contract for the new post office to relocate the same in Brent Symonette’s Town Center Mall.

TALK ABOUT “GIFTED MILLIONS” AND NO BID CONTRACTS TO DONORS, FRIENDS AND CRONIES.

No politician in my lifetime has used politics and the public treasury more extensively and greedily for personal enrichment than one Brent Theodore Symonette. The sizable share of the financial proceeds from the $200 million NPRIP; the $70 million Airport Gateway Project; the $48 million parking lot and access road to the TAR National Stadium and the Frank Watson Highway found its way into the pockets and coffers of Brent Symonette. Brent is now back in the proverbial buffet line no doubt seeking multiple helpings from the public coffers.

We know the FNM has no plans to govern; no plans for BEC and after being scammed out of $2.8 million, we know the Prime Minister has absolutely no intentions of tabling that letter from CCRIF he promised three times to table.

Deflections, however, through lies, deceit the flagrant abuse of parliamentary privilege are unseemly even for a FNM Minister.