Forbes-Smith quits as president to lead reconstruction efforts


KATHERINE Forbes-Smith


Tribune Staff Reporter

KATHERINE Forbes-Smith has resigned as president of the Senate and will become the managing director of the Disaster Reconstruction Authority, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis announced yesterday. John-Michael Clarke and Algernon Cargill will serve as chairman and vice-chairman of the authority.

Dr Minnis said Mrs Forbes-Smith’s “tremendous management experience” included work in the private sector in human resources and training, business and economic development, public relations, marketing and corporate affairs as well as work in government as local government councilor and parliamentary secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister in Grand Bahama.

“Because of her background and professional experience, she also appreciates the importance of communicating the work and progress of the authority to the Bahamian people, various stakeholders and the press,” he said.

The authority is also responsible for establishing criteria, procedures and processes for transitional housing, services and assistance. Its functions are to assess the reconstruction needs of a disaster zone and prepare a reconstruction plan; to oversee the reconstruction plan and its implementation in a disaster zone; to monitor, regulate and administer all matters related to the management of reconstruction work in a disaster zone; to arrange the distribution of funds or materials for reconstruction; to oversee the restoration of government services in a disaster zone; to construct, equip, maintain or repair any public property in a disaster zone for use by the general public; to establish and coordinate relationships with national and international bodies engaged in similar or ancillary pursuits; and to consult with the minister on matters of national reconstruction policy and capital development programmes in a disaster zone.

The Progressive Liberal Party had pressured Mrs Forbes-Smith to choose between her dual roles as Senate president and Hurricane Dorian recovery coordinator for Grand Bahama. The opposition party also took issue with her serving as Senate president and local consultant for Carnival cruise line.

Dr Minnis also announced that attorney Lisa Bostwick-Dean will fill the vacancy in the Senate. “We looked at quite a number of individuals, we did our due diligence, both men and women and Lisa obviously came out on top, very intelligent individual, lawyer, understands politics, understands debate, interested in her country, wants to serve and I think she’ll do an excellent job moving forward and she will help build the Bahamas that we and our future generations want to see.”

The PLP criticised the appointment yesterday. “On the appointment of Lisa Bostwick-Dean, the FNM has taken their inspired axiom of ‘friends, family and lovers’ to new heights. Her father, Henry, was president of the Senate; her mother, Janet, was recently made a dame and given the Order of the Bahamas this year; her brother, John, also served in the Senate and now the daughter, Lisa, is appointed to the Senate. How much more does this Bostwick family need and want from their party and the state? Very aspiring young FNM’s should justifiably ask their party leader, ‘how much for the Bostwicks - smt, smh (sic),’” PLP chairman Fred Mitchell said in a statement.

As for Mrs Forbes-Smith’s new role, Mr Mitchell said: “It is quite clear that the prime minister is sneaking Mrs Forbes-Smith out the back door without acknowledging any wrongdoing with their conflicting dual appointments and the offence caused to Westminster conventions.”

Calling Mrs Forbes Smith “politically divisive” for a role that should go to someone non-partisan, he said: “…With a ministry, an authority, a hurricane disaster fund manager and multiple disaster coordinators all educated to disaster relief and management, the prime minster must explain the role of NEMA in all of this. There still appears to be too many duplications of efforts and redundancies in this highly bureaucratic and confusing system the prime minister has constructed post-Dorian. There must be clarity on the separation of duties and the public must have confidence and trust in the ability of the relevant personalities to execute their duties and high office dispassionately.”

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