Monday, June 5, 2023


‘Answer the Questions’: The Government Is Dodging Accountability

The government’s attempt to yet again delay the Question period is an attempt to dodge questions.

Wednesday was set aside for the Opposition to ask the government pressing questions as designed for the 2nd Wednesday of every month. But Leader of Government Business O.B Wilchcombe, decided to go through the motions of laying bills on the table instead, although he promised Opposition members on Tuesday that he would go forward with the session.

His attempt to defer questions to February 20 and Speaker Patricia Deveaux’s attempt to adjourn the House until then, is a brazen dodge to be held accountable.

“Let’s stay in the House and do the people’s work,” a fiery Pintard protested.

“Why waste time? Why are you not honoring your word?” he questioned from the other side of the House.

Opposition members have been seeking answers to questions for some time now, and were hoping to put forth questions on Wednesday during the Question period. Among the questions were:

  1. Will the government provide all expenses, receipts, and donations toward the trip to Bermuda that was made by Prime Minister Davis and the delegation to attend the convention of the Progressive Labour Party?
  2. Can the Minister with responsibility for Housing confirm the purpose why Bahamians were evicted from the domes in Abaco?
  3. When will the government disclose the amounts paid out to the Financial Secretary and others to settle cases of matters related to administrative leave and redeployment?

The House of Assembly rang out with chants of “Answer the questions” as Pintard and opposition members banged on the desk and held up a folder containing eight pages of questions prepared for the session.

Deputy Leader Chester Cooper though, proceeded with tabling the government’s bills amidst the commotion and protest as Deveaux led the charge before the House was adjourned to Feb 20th.

The ‘Question and Answer Period’ holds the government accountable and the government must commit to being answerable to the people.

The exercise is to glean information that the executive may not want to reveal to the public.

It should be a key part of our parliamentary democracy.

The government should be moving toward more transparency and accountability. We demand accountability from our elected officials. Knowing what our legislators are doing in our name is a cornerstone of our democracy.

The government needs to stop trying to skirt and hide its actions from the public.


Photo credit: The Tribune

Haiti Police Riot After Gangs Kill 14 Officers; Davis Orders Diplomats Leave the Troubled Nation

Haitian police officers rioted in the streets of Port-au-Prince on Thursday, demanding its government act after armed gangs killed 14 of their colleagues.

Dressed as civilians, officers blocked the streets and entrance to the country’s main airport as Prime Minister Ariel Henry arrived from Argentina where he attended the Community of Latin American and Caribbean Summit(CELAC).

Before flooding the airport, the rioters invaded Henry’s home where gunshots rang off.

Protesters attempting to break into the Haitian prime minister's residence
Protesters attempting to break into the Haitian prime minister’s residence.
Demonstrators break into the Toussaint Louverture International Airport to protest the recent killings of police officers by armed gangs, in Port-au-Prince
Demonstrators break into the Toussaint Louverture International Airport to protest the recent killings of police officers by armed gangs, in Port-au-Prince

Earlier in the day, reports were that police had stopped the local charge d’affairs and taken their vehicles and weapons.

Since then, Prime Minister Philip Davis who returned From Argentina on Wednesday ordered an immediate involuntary departure for Bahamian diplomatic personnel.

All diplomats are reportedly safe.

The National Union of Haitian Police Officers says 14 officers have been killed since the beginning of the year in gang attacks on police stations.

Seven officers were killed in a shootout on Wednesday alone, according to Haiti’s National Police. And in other instances, two officers were killed inside a police station in the country’s northern state, while four were killed execution-style in the streets of Port-au-Prince.

Video circulating social media shows the naked and bloodied bodies of six men stretched out in the street as their guns lay on their chests. Another video shows two masked men smoking cigarettes from the dismembered hands and feet of the dead men.

The gang who killed them, known as Gan Grif, still has the bodies, police said.

As the political and social conditions in Haiti continue to deteriorate, its citizens leave the embattled country in droves for greener pastures like the Bahamas and Florida.


Featured photos: Reuters/Ralph Tedy Erol

Frustrated Workers Take To Down Town for Pay Increases

Scores of workers of the Bahamas Public Service Union gathered near Parliament Square advocating for pay increases, chanting “We want our money and we want it now.”

What happened

The group along with President Kimsley Ferguson is calling for salary increases and has accused the government of ‘union busting.’ He said the government is stalling negotiations and the union is still waiting for its industrial agreement to be signed.

While Down Town, he and other leaders of various unions in the country held a conversation with Deputy Prime Minister Chester Cooper but Ferguson said he was not satisfied and was “very disappointed”  in the government’s response.

“There is a serious case for concern when there is no integrity in the leadership of the country… There is no one to speak for the public servants,” he said.

Ferguson said he and the group will up the ante if the demands for increased pay are not met.

“We will continue to agitate until we get the results we want.”

Why it matters

The government has proposed annual increases for permanent secretaries, directors and department heads. The union says it shows that the government has sufficient funding to give public servants adequate increases.


Which Pharmacies are Open and Closed in Price Control Debacle? Here’s a List

Many pharmacies are closed today until further notice to protest the government’s decision to implement price control on medications which they say will negatively impact their ability to operate.

The pharmaceutical retailers and wholesalers said they were not consulted and were “blindsided” by the government’s decision to add fourteen of its medications to a price control list.

The Bahamas Pharmaceutical Association which represents the whole and retail pharmacies in the country said the price control measures cut into their budget and threaten their ability to remain open.


Here’s a list of Pharmacies Open today, many of which include government clinics.

  1. McCartney’s Pharmacy
  2. Elizabeth Estates Clinic
  3. Doctor’s Hospital
  4. Flamingo Gardens Clinic
  5. Fleming Street Clinic
  6. South Beach Health Center
  7. Exuma Primary Care Center

Here’s a list of Pharmacies Closed Today

  1. McCartney’s Pharmacy
  2. Smitty’s Pharmacy
  3. Chappies Pharmacy
  4. Sav-Mor Drugs
  5. RMC Pharmacy
  6. Wilmac’s Pharmacy
  7. Nassau Agencies
  8. Abaco Island Pharmacy
  9. Lowe’s Pharmacy
  10. Comprehensive Pharmacy
  11. Curry’s Pharmacy
  12. Walk in Clinic
  13. World Wide Pharmaceuticals
  14. Da Medicine Place
  15. QVC Pharmacy

Bain Appears to Incite Attack on Police Officer in Parliament Square Melee

Three days after charges were filed for unlawful assembly and obstruction leading to chaos in Parliament Square, the Leader of the Coalition of Independence took to social media on Sunday to provoke an attack on an officer he says is responsible for driving a vehicle that he said “hit” his supporter.

Lincoln Bain showed a picture of the police he called ‘Jarvis’, telling his supporters, “They need to be treated special if you see them around society.”

Bain shows a picture of the officer believed to be driving the police vehicle.

Bain and some members of the group showed up in Rawson Square on Wednesday to give parliamentarians a copy of their immigration proposal and wound up in a fight with officers when Bain was asked to move from the steps and work within the precincts of the square.

Bain resisted and was physically removed by a senior officer. Chaos erupted and he was eventually carried away in a police vehicle.

During the melee, his supporter Cara Ellis was seen standing in front of the police vehicle to prevent officers from driving Bain away, who was in the backseat. Officers standing on the outskirts then forcefully removed her from the passageway of the vehicle.

However, Bain, who says Ellis is like a daughter to him, says she was an innocent bystander and only stopped by to take video shots of him being carried away. “She is an innocent girl. She was just standing up taking videos.”

Showing a picture of ‘Jarvis’ he repeatedly said, “Cara this is Jarvis.”

Bain encouraged his supporters to share the picture of the officer. “I need their faces to be all over social media. Yes, this [is] the Haitian.

“When you’ll see him, love him up,” he said.

Bain, along with Ellis and seven other members of his group were detained and charged for the melee. They are now on $1,500 bail and will return to court on December 1.

Jamaica Ups the Ante to Shun Prince William and Kate From the Caribbean Island

Prince William and Kate attending an evening dinner in Belize on Monday before their trip to Jamaica.

Prince William and Kate’s Caribbean tour is causing more stir about colonialism and slavery.

As the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge set to travel to their next stop, Jamaica on Tuesday, after leaving Belize, some Jamaicans are planning to protest their arrival, calling for slavery reparations and apologies from the British family, and are refusing to participate in the Platinum Jubilee Celebration of Queen Elizabeth II.

The group, Advocates Network wrote an open letter to William and Kate, signed by one hundred prominent Jamaicans namely politicians, lawyers, songwriters, theologians and scholars.

The group attached 60 reasons why the royal family should apologize to Jamaica which include “the exploitation of Jamaica, the transatlantic trafficking of Africans, the enslavement of Africans, indentureship and colonialization.”

The protest is expected to take place on Tuesday at the British High Commission in Kingston.

Jamaica says it is in talks to remove Queen Elizabeth as Head of State. This comes after Barbados became a republic, distancing itself from the monarchy in November.

Prince William and Kate canceled a trip to a farm in Belize after villagers resented their arrival on land in dispute with a group in which William is a patron.

The Opposition in Jamaican Parliament led by Mark Golding, says though it will participate in the celebration, the British monarch needs to “make an authentic and profound apology for the role played by their family in the Slave Trade, chattel slavery and the plantation system, and also for a public acknowledgment that they benefited from it.”

William and Kate will be in Jamaica from March 22 to 24.

GB Social Workers Demand Govt Attention

Social Service workers in Grand Bahama staged a protest at noon on Wednesday, calling for the government to address a myriad of issues they face in the workplace.

In an effort to get the attention of the government, they marched in the parking lot, holding placards and singing, “Solidarity forever.”

Vice President of the Public Service Union Latoya Cartwright said despite its many issues, the government refuses to negotiate with the union

“Industrial agreements remain outstanding. They are lacking assistance. Some of them have been working without water, no hazardous pay, no risk insurance. Matters are outstanding and the government is refusing to come to the table.”

Cartwright added that the president of the union has tried calling and emailing those responsible in government, but to no avail.

When asked if it was a wise move by the union to demand monies during a time when the country is facing economic difficulties and deficits are low, Cartwright asked, “If not now, then when?

“These persons have been working during the pandemic, serving the community. The time is now.

“I want this government to know they are not employed by themselves. The people employed them. We employed them to do a service and we expect them to do it.” she said.

DNA Marches for Early Election

As parliamentarians debated the midterm Budget Debate in the House of Assembly today, scores of supporters of the Democratic National Alliance gathered near the front of the House demanding that Prime Minister Hubert Minnis “ring the bell.”

Party leader Arinthia Komolafe and Deputy Leader Omar Smith, dressed in party colors led the march Down Town to Parliament Square, shouting, “Minnis gat to go, Minnis ga to go,” and “PM ring the bell, PM ring the bell.”

The party likened Prime Minister Hubert Minnis to the biblical ruler Pharaoh, often shouting as they marched, “Let my people go.”

Why it matters

The DNA is seen as the alternative to the major political parties.

Although the major political parties have ratified candidates, many are awaiting the DNA’s ratification and the official presentation of candidates to their perspective constituencies.

The big picture

Speculations have arisen whether or not Minnis will call an early election. Both major political parties, including independent candidates, are often seen campaigning on weekends.

However, Minnis indicated last week in the House that an early election depends on the decision by his team.

What Komolafe says

After being ushered behind barricades, Komolafe said her party was representing the frustrations of the Bahamian people.

“We’re here asking the Honorable Dr Hubert Alexander Minnis to ring the bell. For almost 365 days, we have been under Emergency Orders. It has cost jobs, it has caused lives. It has caused livelihoods. We are calling on the Prime Minister to free the Bahamian people from hell and to ring the bell.”

Komolafe said she is confident her party will win the next election. “If we were not confident, we would not have been here…The people are tired. The people are frustrated. They do not want the FNM. They do not want the PLP. They are calling for an alternative. The DNA is the alternative,” she shouted.

Wells on Nurses Overtime Pay Debacle. What happened and why?

Minister of Health Renward Wells defended the government’s position on overtime pay for nurses for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wells said the government paid out some $162,000 to nurses from the Department of Public Health for working overtime. But it was later discovered that some nurses may not have been paid the overtime money due to time logged in manually but was not digitally recorded.

Why it matters

Some members of the Bahamas Nurses Union led by its president, Amancha Williams protested in Rawson Square on Wednesday morning demanding the overtime money promised to them by the government.

Pineridge Member of Parliament Frederick McAlpine in the House of Assembly on Wednesday suggested that Wells was deceptive for saying nurses were paid.

Nurses protested on Wednesday during the session of Parliament.

The big picture

When Duane Sands served as Minister of Health, healthcare workers on the frontline of the pandemic were guaranteed a $5,000 honorarium for March, April and May.

This was when the Ministry of Health was having a hard time finding health officials willing to handle COVID patients in the healthcare system.

What Wells says

Wells said when he became the Minister of Health in July, he was informed that nurses in the Department of Public health were not paid during Hurricane Dorian and some nurses were not paid for overtime during the pandemic.

“As minister, I asked the Ministry of Health for all documents that should have been logged—the quantum, the cost was given to this minister to go to the cabinet for the cabinet to make a decision to pay. The cabinet paper was written. I was told that the $162,000 for the nurses for March to September was all the log for the work. And that was paid,” Wells said.

Wells said he was surprised when the new year rolled in, and he heard that some nurses who worked overtime were not paid.

He vowed that the situation will be cleared up once the claims being made, are verified.

According to Wells, nurses are the only frontline workers who have already received the overtime pay, while doctors and support staff await the payment.

Eleutherans Cancelled March Against Restrictive Measures. Here’s Why

Eleuthera’s march against the COVID-19 restrictive measures was scheduled for today at 5 pm, but it is no more. However, coordinators Demetrius Johnson and Dwight Pinder have in no way thrown in the towel as they fight what they believe is “unfair and unrealistic” measures.

CSJ Report spoke to Johnson today who said he understands health officials concern that cases are rising on the island, but he said the government must balance health and economy, as many people in Eleuthera are “hurting.” He believes that the country should learn to coexist with the virus without locking down.

Why it matters

  • Eleuthera has a total of 127 COVID-19 cases, which is the fourth-highest for the country. Prime Minister Hubert Minnis has since imposed a 24-hour weekend lockdown and weekday 6 pm to 5 am curfew for the island to curb the spread of the infectious disease.
  • Ports of entry have also been closed for that island due to the emergency order.
  • Ten people are restricted at funerals and weddings, while indoor church services are prohibited.
  • The new measures do not include Spanish Wells and Harbour Island.

Why ‘I March for Eleuthera’ Cancelled

  • Demetrius Johnson said demonstrators of the march scheduled for 5 pm today did not have a permit to assemble. Johnson said he and Pinder met with two superintendents of Royal Bahamas Police Force, who told them that they needed a permit from the Commissioner of Police to assemble and told that the march would contravene the emergency order.
  • Johnson said the intended objective was to meet for “only a 30 to 45-minute presentation.”
  • He promises the march will resume once the permit is granted.

What’s the solution?

  • Johnson disagrees with the government’s 6 pm curfew as islanders have little time to grocery shop and get home after leaving work at 5 pm. He recommends and 8 pm or 9 pm curfew instead.
  • He further calls for the government to remove the 24 hour-weekend lockdowns so that residents can still work. The 24-hour weekend lockdown will come into effect on Friday.
  • Impose the same restrictions in Spanish Wells and Harbour land, where cases are present.
  • Give a more logical approach to dealing with the virus and qualify how people are getting sick. He said “people are not hanging out at night.”
  • He wants South Eleuthera MP Hank Johnson to support his community and hopes he will present the concerns to the prime minister.

North Eleuthera MP Ricky Mackey agrees with new measures

North Eleuthera’s MP Ricky Mackey agrees that the measures are a difficult but necessary decision for the well being of every resident on the island. He added that the restrictions will reduce the number of cases so that tourists can continually visit the island.

“We too often do not do the things that are required to mitigate the further spread. I know it is uncomfortable, but we have to continue to wear masks. We have to continue to social distance. We take it too lightly.

“If we think the decisions are too harsh, callous, and not in the best interest of us individually, let’s think about the entire island, the constituency as a whole, and our community as a whole.”

The big picture

While cases are trending upward in Eleuthera, health officials are relieved that cases in New Providence, Abaco, and Grand Bahama are decreasing. Since March, there have been 5,308 cases in New Providence,  817 on Grand Bahama, and 180 on Abaco.