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Ferreira Fends Off Questions About Gazette Error

ENVIRONMENT Minister Romauld Ferreira.

ENVIRONMENT Minister Romauld Ferreira.

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

ENVIRONMENT Minister Romauld Ferreira spoke yesterday about the controversy surrounding a gazetted document the Minnis administration says wrongly transferred functions from him to Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis, although he mostly avoided giving direct answers to reporters’ questions.

The document, which Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis dismissed as “fake news” before the media revealed it was legitimate, transferred seven functions from Mr Ferreira to Dr Minnis even though the administration has since claimed six of the matters were transferred through an error made by the Cabinet Office.

Asked for his reaction to the error, Mr Ferreira said: “All of that has been sorted out now. The Office of the Prime Minister has spoken. It’s a done deal so not quite sure I’m understanding your question.”

Asked to address concerns the administration was not transparent about the initial transfer of the BEST Commission from his purview to the prime minister, he said: “It’s been sorted out now. The Office of the Prime Minister has spoken to it. All interactions like that have to be gazetted.”

Asked if he believed a bigger deal was made out of the controversy than necessary, he repeated his refrain: “Well I think it’s all been sorted out now. The Office of the Prime Minister has commented on it. I’ll say nothing further beyond that.”

Asked to respond to the Progressive Liberal Party’s (PLP) scepticism of the administration’s explanation, specifically Official Opposition leader Philip “Brave” Davis’ contention that all the matters transferred according to the original gazette fit naturally in a package alongside the BEST Commission and therefore should logically be attached, he said: “Do I dispute anything that the leader of the Opposition says? All of this has been sorted out. The Office of the Prime Minister has dealt with it. I’m perfectly comfortable and functioning in my capacity. If you want to inquire about what the Leader of the Opposition means or thinks, I think you should ask him.”

Asked to respond to concerns about whether he had legal authority to deal with matters that were “wrongfully” transferred from him to Dr Minnis, he said: “…The Office of the Prime Minister has cleared that up. There’s nothing further I could say. We’re working in the Ministry of Environment on behalf of all the people. At the end of the day, the Bahamian people will be satisfied with our performance.”

Asked why he said nothing about the matter previously, the Marathon MP said: “I wasn’t here. You talking to me now. The Office of the Prime Minister has addressed the issue. I’m perfectly satisfied with that.”

Asked if he saw the gazetted document prior to the eruption of controversy, he said he was “not sure” and added: “I know that after the events hit the news the Office of the Prime Minister spoke to it. We were working nonetheless. It was no diminish in enthusiasm in my responsibilities. We look to work on behalf of the the Bahamian people.”

Asked if he and Dr Minnis spoke about transferring the BEST Commission out of his portfolio before the transfer occurred, he said: “I’m sure that you can appreciate that the Office of the Prime Minister has spoken on it. I’m satisfied with the explanation. We’re pressing on. We’re working on behalf of all Bahamians making it a better country. I really want to talk about the expression of interest (at the New Providence Landfill) actually; talk about what’s happening in the ministry. This expression of interest is actually very important. It’s a key component. It’s a cornerstone of what we want to achieve in the big three, which is remediation in the landfill, remediation at Clifton Pier and addressing the legislative gaps in our legislation. Those are the big three so I’m also available to talk about those three.”

Asked if he wants the matter to be probed to determine how the gazetted document contained errors, he said: “You know what I’m interested in? I’m interested in carrying out my mandate as the minister of environment. I’m interested in dealing with the three pressing issues that the country is facing, that is remediation of landfill, the Clifton Pier site and the legislative vacuum that exists.”

Asked if he was concerned the functions were wrongly transferred, he said: “Was I concerned? I always knew that the Office of the Prime Minister would address these matters. I’m satisfied that they’ve been addressed. I don’t see how I could help you further.”

The document in question showed that in August, seven matters had been transferred from the portfolio of Mr Ferreira to the Office of the Prime Minister. Portions of the three page document were circulated on social media at the end of last month.

Last week, Press Secretary Anthony Newbold said Dr Minnis had not seen the document when he dismissed it as “fake news” in a short interview with reporters on Saturday, November 25, but had merely assumed the document claimed there was “wholesale transfer of responsibilities from Mr Ferreira to him with the intent to demote (Mr Ferreira).”

Mr Newbold said the only function transferred to Dr Minnis is responsibility for the Bahamas Environmental Science and Technology (BEST) Commission. The other matters - the Plant Protection Act, wild animal and bird protection, natural history specimens, relations with national and international organisations on matters relating to the environment, international convention, treaties, protocols and agreements relating to the environment and reef and blue holes - were not transferred to the prime minister as the gazetted document says, according to Mr Newbold.

Comments

TalRussell 4 days, 2 hours ago

Comrades! Proof in Romi, they voted for the party - not the candidate. How in hell could you six months post May 10, 2017, become even less popular than "Big Bad" Brad... and that's just among the red shirts party members? Minnis, sure knows how pick'em?

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DaGoobs 4 days, 2 hours ago

The only saving grace in this embarrassing cock-up is that since the FNM took over in May, this is not the first time that there has been an embarrassing cock-up involving the Gazette. Remember there was a similar cock-up involving the persons named to statutory boards and committees, with dead people and others being named. Invariably matters involving what is to be published in the Gazette is left to some low-level clerk who is provided with little guidance as to the importance of their job, often coupled with poor or incomplete instructions as to what is to be published. If needs be, Government should hire a lawyer or bring someone in from the Attorney-General's office to review whatever's to be published and ensure its correctness.

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TalRussell 4 days, 1 hour ago

Comrade DaGoobs, I think you just cocked-up on this one. There are some 120 government boards Minnis had to fill with appointments - numbering some 1600 persons (who were deserving some red shirts patronage)... and believe it or not, not only did Minnis actually appoint several 'dead people' - the PM also appointed over '300' individuals who didn't even know that they were being considered for a board anointment - that is until after they saw their names in the media as board members. {You think I just made that up. Well, I didn't cock that up}.

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DaGoobs 3 days, 21 hours ago

I can understand why you would want to place the blame on Dr Minnis but that is not how Government works. Minnis as PM does not personally compile the lists of appointees to statutory boards and committees. That's done by others in his office, such as Cabinet Secretary or Permanent Secretary in PM's office. Clearly these people did not vett or review the list or the change of portfolio before publication. Alternatively, they did not understand their instructions. So while it comes out of Minnis' office, it is was not Minnis who personally cocked-up.

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ThisIsOurs 3 days, 17 hours ago

That doesn't stand up. These people have been doing their jobs for years with no one questioning their competency. This doesn't seem like a complicated matter. Either their instructions were poorly delivered or someone trying to cover up. Go back and listen to Romi's appearance on Carlton Smiths show a day or two before election, it's shocking. I was equally shocked they made him a cabinet minister, he couldn't even articulate his plans for the constituency, even some made up ones.

So far what I see is an administration extremelly adverse to admitting mistakes. But I understand that's not unusual for govts. Romi would have to be caught dumping oil on Saunders Beach, Montagu and out Clifton before they finally move him. Or who knows...they might say he was trying to plug the pipe and it accidentally spilled.

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sheeprunner12 4 days, 1 hour ago

Romi does not seem to have any interest in the barge that sank and has now broken up off Gray's, Long Island ......... tons of heavy equipment and cell towers in the sea, containers of hurricane supplies, fuel and electrical poles floating along the shore and out in the shipping lanes ......... Romi and the Highshun MP should be fired for this major cock-up.

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ThisIsOurs 3 days, 17 hours ago

I thought it was hilarious after the barge broke up when he gave the reporter this highfallutin explanatin of why the barge broke apart:"this is a high energy area, if you realized the waves are stronger here than further up...", then he referenced being there previously.but if he was there previously and he realized it was a "high energy" area, why didn't he raise the alert, check the weather and say these items are in danger of going in the water, get them off the boat??

People are the first key to your success. And Dr Minnis doesn't seem keen on getting the right people. He's more interested in rewarding party loyalty. Somewhat strange after living through five years of nepotism under the plp. The FS is the next one.

And nothing wrong with the people per se, they're just not right for where they were placed. I'm sure the FS would do a much better job at Press Secretary than Ace for example. That's his skill set.

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Required 3 days, 15 hours ago

Should've asked him if his balls were transferred, too.

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sheeprunner12 2 days, 6 hours ago

When will Romi ensure that BNT land and sea parks be placed in every island .......... and proper dumpsites be placed on every island ....... and that DEHS officers on these Out Islands have vehicles and vector supplies to do their jobs????? ....... It is a really pathetic Ministry that is not worth the taxpayers' taxes at this time ......... Just make it a Department in the Ministry of Works.

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