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Ex-Ministers To Face The Courts?

By TANEKA THOMPSON

Tribune News Editor

tmthompson@tribunemedia.net

photo

Desmond Bannister

FORMER ministers in the Christie administration are “guilty” of “misfeasance” and Attorney General Carl Bethel will have to determine if they should be held liable for the “millions” in taxpayer dollars that were awarded in questionable contracts, in some cases to “inexperienced” contractors, Minister of Works Desmond Bannister told the House of Assembly last night.

The Carmichael MP made the suggestion as he outlined several cases of government waste on public contracts, noting he had to stop work on a $22m public private partnership for a building in Eight Mile Rock, Grand Bahama because it is “not in the best interest” of the Bahamian people.

He also noted the worrisome $6.5m construction contract for the Lowe Sound Primary School. He said this job was given to three “inexperienced” men, despite warnings from officials in the Ministry of Works that the present structure put the project “in jeopardy.”

Referencing the recent stoppage of work on construction of a seawall at Smith’s Point in Grand Bahama, Mr Bannister said this was “one verifiable example of how members opposite put politics ahead of the interest of the people and in doing so they wasted our money and created the potential for great harm of the Bahamian people.”

He said the project was put out to tender and a highly experienced company had the best bid. He said professionals in the Ministry of Works recommended that Waugh Construction receive the work for a contract worth more than $4m.

“However, the former administration decided to ignore the professional advice and gave the contract to Smith’s Construction which had submitted a bid that was $75,000 higher,” Mr Bannister said. “A contract was signed on June 24, 2016 and the seawall was supposed to have been completed on February 22 of this year.”

He said the job is nowhere near complete and the contractor has “made a mess” of the job, prompting his ministry to stop the work.

He said the government has spent over $1.7m on this project and will move quickly to replace the contractor.

‘Misfeasance’

“We are now all aware of the decision of the Caribbean Court of Justice from 2011, that said that even if the acts are not criminal in nature, former ministers can be sued and made to pay damages for losses incurred by the state from their acts of misfeasance. It’s a sobering judgment for all of us to consider,” Mr Bannister said. “Misfeasance is when you ignore the advice of professionals who are trained to give you that advice, as members opposite did in this case. Misfeasance is when for political reasons you hired a contractor who does not have the experience and ability to carry a job out when someone with proven ability is available and has offered a better price for the job. Members opposite are guilty on this count, Mr Speaker.

“Misfeasance is when you expose the people of small, coastal communities to danger, as members opposite did in this case. Mr Speaker, they are guilty and by their acts they have caused untold damage, but, sir, this is only one of many cases that I can cite where the former administration endangered Bahamians and wasted millions of dollars.

“In this case, $1.7m has been spent on the terminated contract, the attorney general will have to determine whether they will have to pay and they should not expect the government to waste the people’s money to represent them in court as they did when they maliciously and deliberately disclosed the private information of people in public.”

Mr Bannister also referred to an ongoing $6.5m construction project at the Lowe Sound Primary School in Andros as a cause of concern.

“They invited three of their supporters in Lowe Sound to submit bids on building the school,” he said. “One was a plumber, the second had never been involved in construction, and the third had been involved in several small projects. All of the bids were rejected as being unsatisfactory . . . but instead of engaging serious contractors to do the job, the former administration told those same inexperienced men to get together, work as a team and they awarded a $6.5m contract to those three men to build the Lowe Sound Primary School.”

He said professionals at the Ministry of Works advised against this.

He said former Minister of Works Philip Davis was told in writing that: “The existing arrangement puts the project in jeopardy similar to what we have experienced to the BAMSI North Andros project.”

“Mr Speaker, members of the former administration need to pray that nothing goes wrong with this project because $6m is a lot of money for them to have to find to repay to the Bahamian people for their misfeasance and negligence (regarding) this project.”

Earlier in his contribution to the budget debate, Mr Bannister also outlined how his ministry had to stop a $22.8m public private partnership for a building in Eight Mile Rock, Grand Bahama.

He noted the hefty penalties the government will incur for breaking the agreement.

He said the government has given instructions to stop the work in Grand Bahama because the concrete used “was not of sufficient strength for the structure” as well as concerns that a geo-tech survey was not done. He said now subterranean carbons have been discovered at the job-site.

“At the end of the day, we may have wasted another $4m entirely as the result of irresponsibility of the former administration,” he said.

Comments

MassExodus 2 years, 2 months ago

Thank God! Let's get the list of PLP Ministers out, and put them in the courts, and see what the facts reveal.

The Bahamian people may actually get their day!!!

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MassExodus 2 years, 2 months ago

PLP Scumbags may go to jail/or pay back Millions!?!?!

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Reality_Check 2 years, 2 months ago

OK @MassExodus a/k/a @banker, simmer down. Try not to become too exuberantly giddy!

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MassExodus 2 years, 2 months ago

Yall fuckers have been saying the FNM is all lipservice, and won't name names or follow through. Let's watch and see...

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DDK 2 years, 2 months ago

Don't back down Desmond Bannister! Go after them! Get back The People's money!

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TalRussell 2 years, 2 months ago

Comrades! Seems Prime Minister Minnis's warning shots may have given the late in showing up for his ministerial appointment Desmond - a serious case of the Ministerial Excelling Jitters? Somebody needs give Desmond and Dionisio - a calming the jitters prescription.

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ThisIsOurs 2 years, 2 months ago

"Earlier in his contribution to the budget debate, Mr Bannister also outlined how his ministry had to stop a $22.8m public private partnership for a building in Eight Mile Rock, Grand Bahama. He noted the hefty penalties the government will incur for breaking the agreement. He said the government has given instructions to stop the work in Grand Bahama because the concrete used “was not of sufficient strength for the structure” as well as concerns that a geo-tech survey was not done. He said now subterranean carbons have been discovered at the job-site.“At the end of the day, we may have wasted another $4m entirely as the result of irresponsibility of the former administration,” he said."

That's a positive development.

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Publius 2 years, 2 months ago

Are people here paying attention? Prosecute who? That is not what Bannister is talking about at all. He is talking about civil suits that the AG may or may not choose to file, not criminal charges being laid. And if anyone here is waiting on Carl Bethel to sue anyone, they've got a very long wait coming.

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Socrates 2 years, 2 months ago

why not offer to share a percentage of the sums looted as an incentive to whistleblowers.. times are tough and all the administrative staff who know the who, what, when, where and how can save us a lot of time and money investigating and get something for themselves in return..

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sealice 2 years, 2 months ago

how much we gonna have to pay in court costs?

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TalRussell 2 years, 2 months ago

Comrades! What in the hell happened to Desmond's calling-out back on Friday, July 29 2016, for when the Red Shirts if elected as the 2017-2022 government.... "To holds a 'Commission of Inquiry' into the 'Carnival of BAMSI scandals' - cause Desmond said, we may find that they were financed at the expense of the development of educational facilities for our children?"
Not only will there be No damn 'Commission of Inquiry' into BAMSI - but the Red Shirts regime have done committed themselves to pumping another $8 million from the 'Public's Purse' into BAMSI - and Kanaval 2018, is done being planned with the "Public's Purse".
Comrades, don't you be too surprised if we does spots Ministers Desmond and Dionisio - dancing front and center at Kanaval 2018 to the sounds Trinidadian headliners?
{No needs me makes this up}.

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birdiestrachan 2 years, 2 months ago

Banister must be very sure he has a good case. He mentioned Waugh Construction. They will be the ones who will get FNM Contracts. Are Bahamians doing the work ? Certain Companies always get FNM Contracts. I would like all of this to see the light . Banister should be very careful. After all STB won their case. Other cases may be in the works. He should always remember when one digs a ditch dig two, .

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jackflash 2 years, 2 months ago

Birdie,

for your edification Waugh has been doing quality work for decades under both the PLP and The FNM as well as countless Bahamian and foreign developers.

They did the Treasure Cay airport decades ago under the PLP and it is still in great shape.

So try another PLP line.

The seawall in Smiths Point would have been long complete under Waugh, they do quality work.

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Sickened 2 years, 2 months ago

You talking to Birdie? That's a waste of time.

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birdiestrachan 2 years, 2 months ago

Is Waugh Construction the only company that does quality work. The answer is no.

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realfreethinker 2 years, 2 months ago

birdie do you read,or you just repeat what you heard? Waugh was the lower of the two bids,and had much more experience,but your plp crony got the job anyway

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MassExodus 2 years, 2 months ago

Birdie is dumb as fuck. Don't waste any time...

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TroubleSom 2 years, 2 months ago

Hello realfreethinker,

from my understanding the bids were as follows:

Treasure Coast Development - 3.5 million Waugh Construction - 4.9 million Smith's Construction - 5.9 million

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The_Oracle 2 years, 2 months ago

Ok,so they are all chiming in, one after the other. But which among them will follow thru? I will be pleased of they do, but not surprised of they don't. Getting the $$ back would be nice, but shaming and incarcerating them even better...... In every country there is some darkness in its history, we seem to relish reliving/repeating ours endlessly.......

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Greentea 2 years, 2 months ago

This article was poorly written- but good gat-daym Bannister sounded like a seasoned preacher in the way he delivered and expounded on the word - Misfeasance! I was ready to stand up, wave, run up and down an aisle and say amen. But I have been around too long to really believe anyone will be persecuted for this raw waste of the people's money. This level of wastage is beyond egregious and requires a special prosecutor. Bank statements- foreign and domestic need to be obtained - subpoenaed - to find out what these fellas had in 2012 and what they left parliament with in 2017- and explanations given. For some- multiple year points need to be used, year over year during their time in parliament- looking at you former tourism minister. These dude were making it rain for themselves and their cronies with the peoples money.

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TalRussell 2 years, 2 months ago

Comrades! I thinks the courts will be confused by what Minister Desmond, really means when he says that crown ministers - committed "misfeasance" in discharging their ministerial responsibilities - cause if they did what he says they did - it's doubtful it was done through "mistake and carelessness". First, AG Carl, will have to go asks the courts to distinguish from what is Misfeasance" and what is "Malfeasance"- which the latter is conduct in violation of the criminal law.

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Greentea 2 years, 2 months ago

They can look at the transcript. DB did a good job explaining it. Misfeasance implies corruption. It indicates that ministers did what "they wanted" and gave contracts to unqualified cronies, despite no evidence or expectation of competent completion and more specifically, expert advice. And while it is theoretically not criminal I guess (not a lawyer) it can certainly lead to malfeasance- which is.

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SP 2 years, 2 months ago

Will somebody please expound on what "subterranean carbons" are? An internet search revealed nothing.

AG Carl Bethel should do the right thing and file charges leading to prosecution if grounds exist. There should be no "if and's or but's"!

Following the money trail might reveal everything we need to know why inexperienced people were retained.

If the FNM think making threats against former ministers will appease the electorate, they are sadly mistaken and will pay a heavy price in 2022 for playing the smoke mirror games with the electorates minds!

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banker 2 years, 2 months ago

Subterranean carbons or subterranean carbon deposits are the decayed remains of ancient plants and other biological matter. Essentially they are precursors to oil and coal. If a forest grew for thousands of years and died, the lignin in the plants are carbon compounds. The compounds eventually decay to organic carbon and simpler carbon compounds. If they come under pressure from the tectonic plates of the earth, it turns into coal. If the pressure is intense and under a geographic salt dome or other impervious rock structure, the carbon forms either long chains of molecules which is crude oil, or became very short chains which is natural gas.

Subterranean carbon is very unstable and one cannot build any wall or foundation on it. One has to dig down far enough past the carbon deposits to get on firm ground.

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Truism 2 years, 2 months ago

Carbon that's below the surface. Now this one ought to be etched in stone. LMAO

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Truism 2 years, 2 months ago

So does this mean that HAi will have to answer for the $156m indebt loan scholarship programme? A tailor made suit for him. LOL

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John 2 years, 2 months ago

Like I said shortly after elections. Give the FNM 100 days before you start to judge them. By them you will know if it's really the people's time or with all the talks the FNM was just rolling out enough rope to hang themselves. 'Be patient my brother, be patient as a farmer is patient as he waits for the crops in his field to ripen '

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ThisIsOurs 2 years, 2 months ago

They haven't done anything yet though. Telling us what the PLP did was easy, see, look what billy do, the hard work is reducing crime, improving education and healthcare and kick starting the economy. Whenever KP gets a question he says "we have to figure out how to...". We need them to spend time on the "figuring out", 70% of which they should have had done before they took office.

Realistically we don't even know if anyone will even get prosecuted. I'd like to see laws passed that persons who exercised gross negligence in office are never allowed to hold any senior governmental position ever again. That would at least be something.

So far they've done nothing different to any other administration, including pointing out what the last administration did and having displays of arrogance and entitlement. If daguilar is made to correct his statements I will say this government is different, too much time has passed already. I do think Dr Minnis is different not sure about the crew.

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ThisIsOurs 2 years, 2 months ago

And they've given us the PLP's budget, word for word, they making noise about the spending, but they made no changes to the budget, according to KP, they're going to "hold the line on spending". So far I get the feeling I'm watching a magic act, "hey look over here", I'll be delighted to be wrong though.

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John 2 years, 2 months ago

They need to listen to the Queens speech from the throne as read today. So much of it is so relevant to us.

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SP 2 years, 2 months ago

Ex-ministers should be held more accountable than average citizens because the public elects and relies on them to carry out the countries business responsibly.

These people must be punished to the fullest extent of the law as a message to newcomers that any form of corruption will be scrutinized and prosecuted without favor.

If we are to regain investor confidence, it is of utmost importance the Bahamas shed its' reputation of piracy and corruption!!

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TroubleSom 2 years, 2 months ago

From my understanding 3 contractors bid on the Smith's Point Seawall: Treasure Coast Development -3.5 million Waugh - 4.5 million Smith - 5.9 million

Waugh is also doing the following also;

  • the Cosway in North Abaco
  • Water line East Grand Bahama & West Grand Bahama

Guess he is the only contractor in Grand Bahama.

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ThisIsOurs 2 years, 2 months ago

"He said professionals at the Ministry of Works advised against this. He said former Minister of Works Philip Davis was told in writing that: “The existing arrangement puts the project in jeopardy similar to what we have experienced to the BAMSI North Andros project.”

This is absolutely criminal...and these buildings are relied on as hurricane shelters..

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ThisIsOurs 2 years, 2 months ago

What is BAMSI anyway? Are the products showing up at that building on east bay grown on bamsi land or are they purchased from other local farmers and rebranded as Bambi products?

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