THIS column is the second of a three-part series that seeks to review the FNM’s Cabinet, rating the six worst ministers who have served at some point in the last five years. In part two, evaluating the five top performing ministers since 2007, and in part three a look into the second tier Ministers.
IN this increasingly hyper-partisan and thorny political environment-in the face of a general election-I decided to rate the FNM's best and worst ministers from 2007 to 2012, measuring the ministerial performances of each and rating them on a scale from one to five. Last week's YMV column listed the one-star, bottom-tier ministers who I felt had mismanaged the sky-high expectations of the Bahamian
Although a mixed crew of personalities comprises the Cabinet, whilst there are/were weaklings and acutely despondent, chronic underachievers in the executorial assemblage, there are first-rate go-getters and hard workers who have given praiseworthy service.
Frankly, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham will not be rated among his portfolio of ministers. I will discuss him and his legacy at a later date. However, he has offered firm leadership and has proven himself as a political Einstein who relies on good common sense and his political capital during rough times.
Although he initially appeared shorthanded in terms of his Cabinet selections, PM Ingraham seemingly projected the image of at least having his glass half full. Consistent with his political DNA (no pun intended), the PM does not employ a reckless or impetuous approach to the decision-making process, making concrete decisions so that the country could've battled the gloomy economic recession. Frankly, he has had the political will to make unpopular, sober-minded decisions in the best interest of the country.
By and large, PM Ingraham has correctly renegotiated land deals that were out-and-out land grabs, modernised the country's infrastructure, fostered the entrepreneurial spirit whilst also creating a shareholding society, assisted the poor and downtrodden and brought some semblance of transparency and integrity back to government, thereby heightening investor confidence and methodically exposing the ministerial inconsistencies of the previous administration. Moreover, the PM has effectively stabilized and managed the country's affairs even as the country faced what, only a few years ago, seemed to be insurmountable economic odds.
Undoubtedly, history will record him as the Bahamas' best Prime Minister thus far.
In rating Mr Ingraham's best Cabinet ministers, I've decided to utilize a tier system, placing the best of the best major portfolio ministers in tier one. Tier one represents those ministers whose performances were absolutely outstanding whilst tier two represents those ministers who rendered "good-to-very good" performances.
The fifth best minister is DPM Brent Symonette, Minister of Foreign Affairs & Immigration. First, I must give kudos to Mr Symonette for correcting the deplorable incidents of overcrowding at the passport office and for quickly implementing machine-readable e-passports. In the past, I have criticised Mr Symonette as having performed grimly as a minister, however his effectiveness of late has been duly noted. Unlike his former junior minister, Mr Symonette has been a quiet and smooth operator, never exhibiting any groundless braggadocio or showmanship.
At Foreign Affairs, the DPM has been superb, having negotiated numerous OECD-pleasing Tax Information Exchange Agreements (TIEAs) without a hitch; facilitated an agreement that allows Bahamians to travel to European countries without the headache of signing up and waiting for a Schengen visa; overseen the speedy processing of immigration matters and the cessation of the silly practice where Bahamians returning home were required to fill-out an immigration form; supervised the smooth transition of Chinese workers coming to the Bahamas to build the stadium, roads, docks/bridges and BahaMar; and managed to foster the settlement of a maritime border issue between the Bahamas and Cuba after about 50 years (Paul Adderley, the former Attorney General, and others had been attempting to resolve the issue since king hammer was a hatchet). Under Mr Symonette, the illegal immigration situation was efficiently confronted, without him once having to impersonate anyone and don an immigration officer's uniform. Even more, there hasn't been any escapes from the Detention Centre in recent time and, even with its infrastructural improvements, the Detention Centre is no longer seen as a residence-he has hurriedly facilitated the repatriation of illegal migrants.