By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Chief Reporter
PRESS Secretary Anthony Newbold yesterday acknowledged the Minnis administration has not been communicating its agenda effectively, noting the government has been struggling to get back on message since the passage of Hurricane Irma.
Mr Newbold was asked to respond to the recent poll from marketing and research firm Public Domain, which flagged poor government communication and indicated the number of Bahamians generally dissatisfied with the administration has increased by 28 per cent since last May.
“Things happen that throw you off,” Mr Newbold said, “any number of things have happened, beginning with the hurricanes. So you get side tracked because things happen. There is always an agenda. Are we communicating that as best we can, no. I don’t think anyone thinks that we do, and its all of our fault for doing that.”
The poll was conducted from March 15 to April 7 and relied on a random, weighed sample of 1,000 Bahamians. It comes as the administration prepares to mark its one year anniversary on May 10.
The poll shows the number of people generally satisfied with the administration has declined by 18 per cent, and that a substantial per cent of people surveyed now believe the country is headed in the wrong direction.
Mr Newbold said: “The prime minister is aware of the concerns of the Bahamian people, always aware, that is one of the reasons why he decided to get into frontline politics. And he will always take the concerns of the Bahamian people into consideration, and again five years (is the full term).
“It’s 11 months in,” he continued, “that’s what he’s focused on trying to address some of those concerns of the Bahamian people, that won’t happen overnight and some of the methods he’s going to have to use will be painful, but he’s committed to addressing the concerns of the Bahamian people, whatever they are.”
Dr Minnis and a delegation are currently in London, England for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. Last week, Dr Minnis and a government delegation were in Lima, Peru for the eighth CEO Summit of the Americas. Some observers have criticised the travel and the size of the delegation.
Responding to a question on who bears the travel costs of minister’s spouses for such trips, Mr Newbold said: “The policy is for the spouse of the prime minister and foreign minister, they will travel on the government’s tab always. For other ministers there is one travel on the government’s tab per year - any other trips will be the responsibility of the respective minister.
“I don’t say that this government is sending ‘gussie mae’ delegations, but that’s a matter of some people may think that.
“We are telling you specifically why they (delegation members) are there and they will do some other reports when they come back. Hopefully the idea is you go through these meetings, you’re not going there to be seen but you’re going there on behalf of the Bahamian people.”
The delegation to CHOGM and related meetings in London includes Dr Minnis; Minister of Foreign Affairs Darren Henfield; Minister of Environment and Housing Romauld Ferreira and State Grand Bahama Minister Kwasi Thompson.
The prime minister’s senior policy advisor, Joshua Sears; Sharon Brennen-Haylock, director general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Candia Ferguson, director of investments at the Bahamas Investment Authority and Viana Gardiner of the Office of the Prime Minister/Deliverables Unit are on the trip as well, along with High Commissioner to the UK Ellison Greenslade and other officials from the Bahamas and London.
The delegation returns home Sunday, April 22.