By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Deputy Chief Reporter
THE Minnis administration could indefinitely foot a reported $9,000 per month bill for Governor General CA Smith’s rental home.
This was the suggestion of Minister of Works Desmond Bannister yesterday, as he revealed that works officials in the process of scoping Government House for needed repairs are finding more than what meets the eye.
He told The Tribune as the work involves an historic structure, officials are sensitive with its handling, adding “we can’t be petty about what we are doing with respect to restoring a national landmark”.
If that means paying the Governor General’s rent until Government House is restored to its original glory then that is what will happen, Mr Bannister insisted.
The minister could not reveal how long the works could take, but highlighted restorative projects around the world, saying in some places it could be “years” before historic structures are fully repaired.
He could neither say when the project will begin.
“We can’t be certain when its going to begin because we are still scoping Government House,” the Carmichael MP said when he was contacted yesterday. “Government House was built I think it 1804 and the minute you start to look at one thing other things come up and they have to be reproduced with a certain fidelity to historic needs of the building.
“As we go in and every time we look at something if you look in a wall you think there is one thing there and then you go and find that you have to go and do a couple other things. So we are approaching the project very carefully so that we can preserve the historic nature of the building and that requires our guys to be very patient as we move ahead with it.”
He also said: “Let me just say this to you, we can’t be petty about national offices and we can’t be petty about what we are doing with respect to restoring a national landmark.
“We have to think like statesmen and we have to do the things that are appropriate for our country and if that means that we have to pay something for the Governor General, we have to pay something for him until Government House is restored to its historic stature. That is important for our country.
“In other countries when you have these restorations they go on for years. If you go in the United States and you see when they restore some of the places it takes years to restore them. So we cannot inject petty politics into something that we are trying to do at a national level for the country and for the Bahamian people, for your grand children and great grand children.
“That’s a building that’s more than 200 years old.”
As the scoping process is ongoing, he could not reveal what price tag could be facing taxpayers.
However it will likely be something not put out to tender, but a very capable contractor chosen, he said.
“I don’t know whether we will put something like Government House out to tender. You have to be careful.
“That’s something government is going to have to look at to find the most capable contractor we can find to do the work,” Mr Bannister said.
Last month, Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest stressed the importance of “comfort and security” following news that government was set to spend $9,000 a month to rent a home for Mr Smith.
At the time Mr Turnquest declined to confirm the rental price but noted the safety measures required by Mr Smith “come with a cost” and called for maturity regarding this situation.
Mr Turnquest he also highlighted it was to be a “temporary” arrangement.
He approximated these works will take a “couple of months” but did not provide a specific timeline.