Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis.
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
PRIME Minister Dr Hubert Minnis yesterday welcomed the Official Opposition’s pledge to move a no-confidence motion against him in the House of Assembly but sidestepped questions about the Town Centre Mall lease that form the basis of the opposition’s threat.
He did not directly answer questions about St Annes MP Brent Symonette’s claim that the pair discussed mall lease details before the parliamentary resolution permitting the lease was passed. Critics, including former Attorney General Alfred Sears, QC, believe Mr Symonette’s revelation calls into question the legitimacy of the resolution. The mall was leased to house the General Post Office.
Dr Minnis, in one of his first interviews with reporters in weeks, also said little about the inflammatory comments of the Water & Sewerage Corporation board director Bennett Minnis who recently called the PLP a party of “corrupt, thieving, no good, bastard, homosexual, African monkeys.” Critics have called for Mr Minnis’ resignation but the administration has not said whether he will be kept or removed from his role.
Speaking to reporters after an Over-the-Hill graduation event yesterday, the prime minister responded to Progressive Liberal Party Leader Philip “Brave” Davis’ recent pledge to bring a no-confidence motion against him at the earliest opportunity.
“We welcome it,” he said. “I hope Davis will not change his mind. We look forward to it on October 2nd when we return to Parliament and we will give him an opportunity to see how strong the FNM is, how together we are and how we are a team and
the Bahamian people will make their final determination in 2022 when we will defeat the PLP and on the 15th and the 16th of August the Bahamian people will have an opportunity to hear from the young people who are the leaders and future of this country when
the FNM has its youth convention. We are on the right track. The economy is growing and in two weeks at the convention you will hear more about ideas and our vision moving forward.”
When he resigned from cabinet earlier this month, Mr Symonette reignited controversy by saying Dr Minnis and he discussed mall renting details last year when he was still Minister of Financial Services and Immigration.
Asked about Mr Symonette’s revelation yesterday, Dr Minnis said: “The beauty about the Town Centre Mall is that matter was addressed in Parliament and you can pull all about what we said, the entire discussions, debates etc; it was an overt, complete transparent procedure, unlike the PLP what they have done in the past.”
When told the debate did not address Mr Symonette’s comments, which were made almost nine months after the resolution was passed, Dr Minnis repeated his line: “The entire matter was addressed in Parliament in a transparent manner.”
Asked about calls for the resignation of WSC’s Board Director Mr Minnis, the prime minister said: “I think that was addressed by many members of my party, I don’t think I have to say anything about it, they have dealt with it.”
Asked if Mr Minnis remains director of WSC’s board, he said: “He’s not the director of a board, he’s on a board, but that has been addressed and I don’t need to elaborate on that.”
The government has not announced Mr Minnis’ removal as WSC board director. Works Minister Desmond Bannister has said the matter will be dealt with at the cabinet level but it is not known if the matter has come up. FNM Chairman Carl Culmer has neither condemned nor defended Mr Minnis’ comments but has said the PLP should “clean their own doorstep.”