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‘Economy doesn’t sit on one man’s shoulders’

photo

Gowon Bowe

By KHRISNA RUSSELL

Tribune Chief Reporter

krussell@tribunemedia.net

WHILE Peter Turnquest’s resignation from Cabinet presents a challenge for the government, the country’s economic recovery does not rest on the shoulders of one man, a top banker asserted yesterday.

Gowon Bowe, Fidelity Bank (Bahamas) chief executive, told The Tribune that Bahamians needed to depersonalise the conversation surrounding the East Grand Bahama MP’s resignation from the posts of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance.

He said there also didn’t need to be an exaggeration of what Mr Turnquest’s departure would mean to the operations of the Ministry of Finance.

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis accepted Mr Turnquest’s resignation Wednesday evening, ending nearly a week of political intrigue after the East Grand Bahama MP was named – although not joined as a defendant – in a Supreme Court lawsuit relating to an alleged $27m fraud.

Dr Minnis said in a brief statement that he will serve as interim finance minister before a substantive appointment is made to that post. Mr Turnquest said he will continue to serve out his term as MP.

“The role of any Cabinet minister is to prepare for succession planning,” said Mr Bowe.

“No one individual is irreplaceable. The reality is the Ministry of Finance is a function and whilst the Minister of Finance would be the chief executive officer, the actual executive team which would be his financial secretary, his advisers, the deputy financial secretary report to him. They should still be in existence and it’s really from the perspective of saying there would have to be a new chief executive officer so we have to say that his leadership and his planning for the future is one that we hope is already put in place and they are the same people that he would expect to run it even if he was there.

“I think it’s important to note that he would not be doing calculations personally. He would not be drafting budgets personally. He would not be doing elements that would be creating our economic strategy personally. His primary role would be to review, provide input, produce ideas, guidance and provide direction.

“Will we miss that? I think we certainly will because he’s been in the room for three plus years. The personnel would have already become accustomed to his working style. They would be accustomed to the nature of information that he would have requested and also the instruction of how things get executed.”

Mr Bowe continued: “So, I think that we have to depersonalise this conversation that we’re having that the Ministry of Finance is an institution. The chief executive officer, meaning the minister is himself an institution because it changes as there are changes in government or changes in ministerial assignment.

“Ultimately, we should be looking at this from the perspective as saying the overall leadership of the Cabinet is going to be tested at this point in time because the deputy prime minister and minister of finance could have vacated for a number of reasons. It could have been an untimely passing. It could have been illness. It could have been a personal matter and he pulled away and sought leave of absence and so we have to be careful to not exaggerate what his departure will mean to the operation of the Ministry of Finance.”

Mr Turnquest’s resignation came as a surprise even to his Cabinet colleagues, with one minister telling The Tribune Wednesday night that he was “devastated and shocked” by the outcome.

The Tribune understands Mr Turnquest’s Cabinet colleagues largely wanted him to remain the steward of the country’s fiscal affairs as the nation battles the economic fallout from the COVID-19 crisis.

His departure from Cabinet comes several months after Elizabeth MP Dr Duane Sands resigned as Health Minister under controversial circumstances.

He is the third Cabinet minister to resign from the Minnis administration, after Brent Symonette quit his post as Minister of Immigration and Trade last year.

Elected deputy leader of the Free National Movement in 2014 during the party’s tumultuous time in opposition, Mr Turnquest stood by Dr Minnis’ side when Loretta Butler-Turner led a revolt against the Killarney MP in 2016. Despite this, the pair did not enjoy a strong relationship and Mr Turnquest was not in the Prime Minister’s circle of most trusted colleagues, sources said.

Comments

thps 1 year, 10 months ago

JokeyJack

Your assessment?

"The reality is the Ministry of Finance is a function and whilst the Minister of Finance would be the chief executive officer, the actual executive team which would be his financial secretary, his advisers, the deputy financial secretary report to him."

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TalRussell 1 year, 10 months ago

Fair comment easily visualise why Comrade Gowan might've spent more quality time at depersonalising before he came be posting.to these hereto Tribune pages.
Please, give us a break as to the part about will certainly miss KP, because he’s been in the finance ministry for three-plus years - compared to the impact left behind by who - Comrade Jesus' three-plus years ministry?
Shakehead once for upyeahvote, twice for not?

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BONEFISH 1 year, 10 months ago

There are competent people working in the Ministry of Finance. The former finance minister and the acting financial secretary were not all that .

They stopped all the projects started by the financial secretary Wilson. They however restarted them after their idiotic vat raise, They then had to restart the Revenue Enhancement Unit, the Click to Clear project and the Tyler Technology project to modernize the real property department. The foreign financial expert said to me, all of Wilson's ideas made sense. He said that neither Peter Turnquest nor Marlon Johnson understand economic policy and planning. He said what you saw from Turnquest and Johnson is just a lot of bad fiscal decisions

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tribanon 1 year, 10 months ago

Minnis and the plague have one thing in common: No one with any common sense and smarts wants to be around either of them. This will make finding and appointing the best person possible to be the next MOF very challenging if not impossible.

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tribanon 1 year, 10 months ago

Let's all pray Minnis does not go off half cocked and appoint a bureaucrat like former central bank governor Wendy Craigg as state minister for finance. The Tribune has already touted rumours to that affect floating around everywhere. Wendy Craigg just doesn't have the backbone or vision necessary as was so painfully obvious in the way she mishandled (for years) the corrupt lending activities at BOB that had been made known to her very early on by her own inspectors within the bank supervision department of the central bank. Had she done her job properly back then, BOB's losses heaved on to the backs of Bahamian taxpayers would have been much less than the $400 million plus and counting.

As MOF Craigg literally would be an unquestioning dutiful puppet of Minnis and his more senior cabinet ministers no matter how misguided their wishes, directions and instructions to her might be. Her personality is such that she avoids dissention and confrontation like the plaque and that's just not the type of MOF we need in these most difficult and challenging times. And we certainly don't need a MOF who would simply cave to every wish and direction coming from the likes of the IMF, World Bank, IDB, etc. no matter the extent to which they would likely be most harmful to our country.

But even worse still than Wendy Craigg as MOF would be Marlon Johnson as MOF. And of course, worst of all would be that corrupt and highly conflicted CFA guy whose puppet master would love nothing more than for him to be in charge of the country's finances.

Wells as DPM would be another poor judgement call by Minnis but not nearly as serious a one as Craigg, Johnson or the corrupt and highly conflicted CFA guy as MOF. Minnis's big dilemma is that he has surrounded himself with the dullest crayons in the box because of his own insecurity and demands for undying loyalty above all else, especially backbone and smarts.

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Socrates 1 year, 10 months ago

Bowe just made a good case for not paying top executuves big salaries and bonuses...

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