DAVIS ADMINISTRATION MUST END PRACTICE OF MALIGNING SENIOR PUBLIC OFFICERS

Dec 18, 2023

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Hon. Michael Pintard

Leader, Free National Movement

November 23, 2023

 

GRAND BAHAMA – The Prime Minister must immediately address the grave allegations regarding the civil lawsuit brought against himself, Minister JoBeth Coleby, and other public officers by Permanent Secretary Antoinette Thompson.

As was the case in the Department of Immigration, we once again have the most senior public servants – permanent secretaries and directors of government departments – seeking to do their jobs and ensure that laws, policies and procedures are followed, only to be seemingly maligned and victimized by an administration that has repeatedly and openly shown a disdain for following the law.

We remind this lawless Davis Administration that permanent secretaries and department heads are by law the “principal accounting officers” for Ministries and Departments, and it is their legal responsibility to approve expenditures, sign public contracts, and ensure that all public officials and elected officials follow the law and established policies at all times. Prime Minister Davis must be aware that when possible improprieties are brought to his attention, it is his job to ensure that these matters are fully and properly investigated. Instead, the Prime Minister appears to be content to sideline senior public officials and cover up potential wrongdoing.

On the matters raised by Permanent Secretary Thompson, Davis must address the following:

– What was the basis for putting the Permanent Secretary, as the administrative head and principal accounting officer of the Ministry, on leave? What is this so-called “unrecorded leave,” and where is the same recognized within the public service regulations or the law? The fact that the government is not recording the leave suggests something untoward.

1) Is it true that PS Thompson was never provided any written communication regarding the basis for her leave?

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  1. 2)  Is it accurate athat a subordinate officer within the Ministry signed on to multimillion-dollar contracts while PS Thompson, as principal accounting officer, was in office? If so, how was this impropriety addressed? What action was taken against the offending parties?
  2. 3)  Is it accurate that no funding was available for the multimillion-dollar contracts that were reportedly inappropriately signed off by a subordinate officer? What other Parliamentary approved and funded projects had to be canceled or postponed to accommodate these unfunded obligations for which there was no funding?
  3. 4)  Why has the Davis administration still not explained how these multimillion- dollar projects were awarded to recently formed businesses with little or no experience – with none of the contracted vendors seeming to have gone through the tender process?
  4. 5)  What steps were taken by the Minister of Transport or anyone in the Administration to address the allegation that a public officer in the post office was awarded government contracts in contravention to Public Service regulations?

Given the gravity of the allegations, the Opposition demands that the Prime Minister follows the precedent set by himself when members of the previous Administration were accused of impropriety. As such, he must immediately conduct a full investigation into the matters raised by the permanent secretary. It cannot be that the Prime Minister is only eager to investigate perceived wrongdoing when it involves members of the Opposition.

Further, if the government cannot substantiate why PS Thompson was made to go on this so-called “unrecorded leave”, the government should move with haste to settle the Civil matter and reinstate PS Thompson immediately.

The Opposition condemns the now habitual practice of the Davis administration of sidelining senior public officials who take their statutory responsibilities to uphold the law seriously.

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