Marvin Dames, Minister of National Security. Photo: Terrel W. Carey Sr/Tribune Staff
By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE government remains committed to the decentralisation of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, National Security Minister Marvin Dames has suggested.
As a part of the exercise, Mr Dames said yesterday his ministry has committed to moving senior command of the RBDF to a section of the new, long-awaited Ministry National Security offices at John F Kennedy Drive.
Additionally, according to Mr Dames, the force will also finalise a manpower audit as a preparatory step in determining the long-term requirements of the force.
“Some time mid this year, the command of the defence force will be moving to the Ministry of National Security’s new headquarters on JFK (Drive) next to the Office of the Attorney General,” Mr Dames told reporters on the sidelines of the governor general’s inspection of the force’s troops yesterday.
“They are excited and looking forward to that change, and that would allow for the further development of this base to assist with the operational needs of the department in of itself,” he added.
Mr Dames, addressing the allocation of resources to the force, said the revision of the RBDF’s manpower would be essential in determining how the agency should be utilised moving forward.
Pointing to the RBDF’s most recent and upcoming recruitment classes, both projected to have around 120 people, the Mount Moriah MP said the agency is working to equip itself with all of the elements needed to best serve the entire country.
“…With decentralisation obviously will come, or require really, an in-depth look at what is required to sustain this. Often times we buy an inordinate amount of equipment and resources, but forget the human side,” Mr Dames said.
“… This government has taken the position that before we invest in more resources…we have to look at the human side to ensure that there is adequate training, education of the officers and that there are sufficient officers to man whatever resources and equipment we have because this is an expensive undertaking and when you invest in the Bahamian people’s money, you have to be accountable for it.”
He added: “And that is the position that we have taken and we will continue to do that as we continue to look toward professionalising this department and ensuring that it can meet the needs of not only New Providence, but the entire Bahamas.”
Last year during his mid-year budget communication Mr Dames blamed extensive delays in the highly touted $232m Sandy Bottom Project on the complacency and poor governance of the former Christie administration.
Mr Dames, at the time, suggested that in addition to being nearly three years behind schedule, some aspects of the project would have to be “paid out” from the Royal Bahamas Defence Force’s capital development budget over the next two fiscal cycles — 2018-2019 and 2019-2020.
Mr Dames told the House of Assembly: “This project represents another failed attempt by the previous government to strategically plan. As the old saying goes, ‘when you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.’”
Mr Dames said consequently, a project which should have already been completed is still in the pipeline because the current government had to revisit all contractual agreements and plans so as to set it on a course for success.
He further noted that up to that point, a total of $219,182,712.48 has been spent on the project with a balance of $5,460,836 remaining.