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2005-11-30 15:02:33

Bethel Sworn In As FNM Senator

Strike One for the FNM as they foolishly choose one of the slyest weasels in Nassau as a senator.

Former Chairman of the Free National Movement Carl Bethel received his instrument of appointment to the Senate Tuesday morning from the Governor General, in one of the last official functions at Government House before Dame Ivy Dumont demits office today.

The first thing that Mr. Bethel said he would tackle in the Senate was the way that relief funds for the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) were being handled.

"Since (hurricanes) Frances and Jeanne millions of dollars were raised, and it's been more than a year and there has been no full accounting (of the funds). I will demand an account, on the floor of the Senate, from the Minister of State for Finance James Smith," he said.

Mr. Bethel said that he would also continue to push vigorously for an "appropriate" account of the thousands of entry visas granted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is now the subject of police investigations.

"This is a very, very serious issue and the minister must account and respond. I was surprised that on his return to the Bahamas (Foreign Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell) did not have a response," said Mr. Bethel. "I found that indicative of the scale of the problem, which the minister may not be fully aware of.

"It's very, very disturbing to hear that (the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) is unable to give any assurance that they have any mechanisms in place to check that the thousands and thousands of Haitians and hundreds and hundreds of Chinese that have been allowed into this country with entry visas, that they've left. And that must be very disturbing to the Bahamian people."

Mr. Bethel said that the three percent of economic growth this year had no impact on the rate of unemployment, suggesting that the demand for labour is being satisfied by some other source other than genuine Bahamian workers. Mr. Bethel said that this had to be investigated by the government.

The newly appointed senator said the same struggle that he waged as the party's national chairman and as an MP would be continued in the Senate, and that he would work with the government in a positive but critical way to "drag out better from them."

"Public service must, at the end of the day, be about achieving positive results for the Bahamian people," Mr. Bethel said in his remarks after receiving his official documents from Dame Ivy.

"Ineffective government, a government fixated more on procedures, than results, addicted to rhetorical flourishes and fine sounding words, rather than tangible achievements, full of promises and short on delivery, is the worst scenario for a nation grappling with sustained structural unemployment, a flood of legal and illegal immigration, a jobless economic recovery and a crime wave."

As a senator, Mr. Bethel said that he wants to offer an alternative vision of governance, so that Bahamians will have the opportunity to assess both parties.

And although he thinks the Senate is not used enough by the PLP government, Mr. Bethel said that he hopes to show Bahamians that the upper chamber is a place where real debates can take place.

Before presenting Mr. Bethel with his letter making his appointment as an opposition senator official, Dame Ivy noted that this was the first time in four years that she has had three presentations of this nature in sequence.

On Monday morning, former leader of the Coalition for Democratic Reform, Dr Bernard Nottage, received his instrument of appointment to the Senate; and later that afternoon, FNM leader Hubert Ingraham was appointed leader of the official opposition.

Dame Ivy said that it was very interesting that so many people have turned out for these recent events.

"Usually it's just family, but I realise that families have grown," she said.

By: Erica Wells, The Bahama Journal

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