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Fake News, Pm? Well, Not Quite

ENVIRONMENT Minister Romauld Ferreira.

ENVIRONMENT Minister Romauld Ferreira.

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

A DOCUMENT about the transfer of portfolio responsibilities of Environment Minister Romauld Ferreira that was dismissed as “fake news” over the weekend by Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis is legitimate and was gazetted on August 22.

Critics pounced on this revelation yesterday to question Dr Minnis’ trustworthiness. But Press Secretary Anthony Newbold came to Dr Minnis’ defence during his weekly press briefing yesterday and said the gazetted document is real but contains errors. He said it prescribes to Dr Minnis responsibilities Cabinet never transferred to him, a fact officials only recently learned. 

The document reports that responsibility for seven matters has been transferred from the portfolio of Mr Ferreira to the Office of the Prime Minister.

Because Mr Ferreira is a persistent target of rumours from the Free National Movement’s opponents on social media, the document over the weekend gave rise to unsubstantiated theories about why he was having his portfolio reduced.  

Mr Newbold said Dr Minnis had not seen the document when he dismissed it as “fake news” in a short interview with reporters on Saturday, 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.

His explanation made PLP Leader Philip “Brave” Davis incredulous yesterday. Mr Davis said all the matters Mr Newbold said were wrongfully attached to Dr Minnis in the gazetted document relate so closely to the work of the BEST Commission that it would “be very difficult to dissociate the work of BEST from those matters.”

Mr Davis suggested the administration is trying to excuse Dr Minnis’ previous dismissal of the document.

Mr Newbold could not explain how the official document got its errors but told reporters it would have to be corrected. He said he found out about the matter “like everybody else” when it was circulated on social media recently.

Asked if Dr Minnis sent to the Cabinet Office his written instructions of the matters that should be transferred to him, Mr Newbold suggested no such written communication was sent. “To my understanding,” he said, the matter was discussed in Cabinet “and people taking notes [wrote] it down.”

This too drew scepticism from Mr Davis.

“There had to have been some writing,” he said. “One would expect there would have been a directive in writing to the secretary of the Cabinet to make this instruction to the governor general saying this is how I want these portfolios to be allocated.”

Under the Constitution, the governor general, on advice from the prime minister, is responsible for prescribing responsibilities and functions to ministers.

“Any portfolio movement has to first emanate from the prime minister,” Mr Davis said. “That’s at his sole discretion and authority.”

Dr Minnis did not previously announce his new responsibility for the BEST Commission.

Mr Newbold said the institution was transferred to assist the government with investment matters.

“The BEST Commission was established to help guide the process of development projects,” he said. “When the Bahamas Investment Authority (BIA) was formed initially, it sought and obtained the advice of the BEST Commission, as part of its review process, before development projects were presented to the National Economic Council for its consideration. BEST would review the Environmental Impact Assessment presented, ensure that all impacts that could disrupt the environment were included and interacted with the developer to ensure that they were all listed. BEST then reviewed the developer’s Environment Plan and if all of these were in accord, then the project proceeded to NEC. Once the project was given the green light by NEC, BEST monitored the management of these impacts by the developer.

“Over the past several years this practice was discontinued and NEC made decisions about projects that impacted the environment without the input of BEST and such projects were approved ‘in principle’ subject to the BEST Commission. The cart was before the horse. Invariably, there were aspects of the proposals that impacted the environment that BEST could not support, but the developers had already been ‘approved’ and it became very difficult for the BEST’s objections to prevail. The Prime Minister decided to take responsibility for BEST so that as an agency under the Office of the Prime Minister, it could be a part of the review process before matters went to NEC.”

Comments

BahamasForBahamians 1 week, 5 days ago

Our PM is embattled and is way beyond his depth.

Its a bit sad how he's folding up in less than year.

This is the second instance where he has been PROVEN a liar.

I wonder what he's going to say now? He was driving out west and changed his mind to go south?

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hrysippus 1 week, 5 days ago

Minnis told us all to ignore "Fake News", ....

In a press release he surely rues. ... It seems that Cabinet ministers in this Bahamas, .. .. Shovel more bull stuff than dairy farmers... .... The only time they'll tell the truth,..... .... .. Is when presented with an absolute proof. .................. If the lips are moving the they're probably lying,... .... If we aren't all laughing, we would be crying.........

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TalRussell 1 week, 5 days ago

Comrades! Simply put they BOLDFACED LIED!
Doesn't Minister Romauld not reminds you local fashion designer who was photographed at his funeral home viewing sitting up all stiff in he chair?
This one's ministerial time left is as stiff as sitting up in a funeral home chair. {No need make this up, right?}

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 week, 5 days ago

Minnis is not to be trusted at his word, period!

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TalRussell 1 week, 5 days ago

Comrade Environment Minister Romauld is fast becoming most recognizable face of the crown in Prime Minister Minnis's cabinet, but not necessarily for the right reasons. Blame it all on the government's official Gazette?

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BahamaPundit 1 week, 5 days ago

Give the man a break. This country is in shambles. Minnis is trying his best. Focus on real things. Real things = keeping this country's economy from imploding and becoming another Haiti. It is Fake News, because it is a waste of time and ink (it is personal in nature and not progress related).Media, please focus on real things! Make us some money!!! Media, get with the program. We want progress not Puritans. We want wealth not wimps! If you want to push for anything, push for the FOIA. That is a goal worth fighting for.

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TalRussell 1 week, 5 days ago

Comrade BahamaPundit, I was raised that any kinds lying is a bad thing but are there cases in which government lying is the right thing to do?

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Greentea 1 week, 5 days ago

His best is not good enough BahamaPundit. He is way out of his depth. And you and Minnis need to stop with the Trumpisms- it just doesn't translate here- In fact it makes Minnis look even dumber. the only thing he can do for Trump is shine his shoes.

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sheeprunner12 1 week, 5 days ago

We better not get caught up in these Trumpisms ......... We are on the cusp of being in "junk status" .......... There are more important things than Roomie's portfolio to fight over ....... smt.

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tell_it_like_it_is 1 week, 5 days ago

Oh boy, no one should aim to use Trump's terms. You're gonna be tainted by association. Did you see what happened with alt right British tweets today?

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Socrates 1 week, 4 days ago

i question the usefulness of this position Ace Newbold has.. he and Minnis seem to be out of sync and when you query this guy, most answers he doesn't have or the response is something like PM says what he likes when he feels like...

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banker 1 week, 4 days ago

I met Romi for the first time several months ago. His aura is one that permeates a bit of weirdness.

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realfreethinker 1 week, 4 days ago

I thought the campaign for election 2012 was over,or is this the official campaign for 2022? You really think our problems are as simple as Romauld porfolio being changed. The fight over this shows just how much the government's detractors are afaid of the success the gov has in stabilizing our country. Only weak minds focus on the small stuff

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Alex_Charles 1 week, 4 days ago

Does Romauld Ferreira even talk to the press? I haven't seen anything from this dude in a while.

This administration is HORRIBLE with their communication to the public. I am positive we have the talent locally to manage public communication for this administration.

I get the impression that this admin will be just like the last where cabinet ministers are saying one story and the PM is singing another.

Get your shit together please.

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