DEPUTY Prime Minister Peter Turnquest.
By MORGAN ADDERLEY
& RIEL MAJOR
Tribune Staff Reporters
DEPUTY Prime Minister Peter Turnquest yesterday stressed the importance of “comfort and security” in the wake of reports the government will spend $9,000 a month to rent a home for new Governor General CA Smith.
While Mr Turnquest declined to confirm the rental price, he noted the safety measures required by Mr Smith “come with a cost” and called for maturity regarding this situation.
Mr Turnquest, who is serving as Acting Prime Minister while Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis is out of the country, highlighted this will be a “temporary” arrangement as Government House is currently undergoing a “major renovation”. He approximated these works will take a “couple of months” but did not provide a specific timeline.
“You know, I think the more important question is: what accommodations have been made for the comfort and security of the Governor General?” said Mr Turnquest.
“I think we all appreciate that as head of state, the Governor General is afforded and requires a certain level of safety, a certain level of comfort, (a) certain standard of living that will allow him to entertain as necessary and to live in a reasonably secure environment. The rental pool for that kind of accommodation is relatively limited. And unfortunately it does come with a cost.
“This is a temporary situation,” Mr Turnquest continued. “Government House is undergoing a major renovation to bring it back to its lustre and splendour to be not only a residence but also to restore (it) to its historic prominence as a tourist destination and as a place that Bahamians can be proud of.
“That unfortunately is going to take a couple of months to be done and so there was a need to accommodate the Governor General. And so that is what the government has decided to do and again…I would ask us all to be mature about this, because again, this is the head of state.
“And there are considerations beyond just the cost that have to be taken into account. We tried to be as reasonable as we could with those accommodations and we think we’ve accomplished that as best we can.”
When pressed to confirm the $9,000/month price tag, Mr Turnquest replied: “To be honest with you I cannot confirm the terms. But I do know that the arrangements have been made and the governor general has taken residency in that house.”
As regards the timeframe for the completion of renovations, he said: “Leave that to the minister of works, in terms of the actual construction or renovation schedule, that would be outside my ability to respond to at the moment,” Mr Turnquest said on the sidelines of the first concrete pour for the Sterling’s Hurricane Hole development on Paradise Island.
Yesterday Progressive Liberal Party leader Philip “Brave” Davis branded the expense as a “waste of money”.
At the PLP’s monthly press conference yesterday, Mr Davis said the government didn’t pay rent for the previous Governor General and stated by now the repairs to Government House should have been done.
Mr Davis said: “Government House should (have) been repaired a long time ago and I’m advised that the roof is still leaking (and was leaking) for the last four years or more. They ought to (have) been thinking about what was necessary. Again, it is governance and they ought to…again it’s a waste of money...taxpayers’ money.
“Those works that they are doing now they could have been done some time ago because Government House was only being used over the last four years for ceremonial and state functions. The opportunity was there to repair it. We could have saved this $9,000 a month if they had done what they ought to have done when they ought to.”
The 2019/2020 Budget allocated $75,000 for all personal emoluments of the Governor General.