The Swearing-In Ceremony of Mr. Kevin Peter Turnquest, Member of Parliament Elect, as Minister of Finance (left), and Mr. Carl Wilshire Bethel, Q.C., as Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs by Her Excellency Dame Marguerite Pindling took place on Friday May 12th, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. in the Upper Gardens of Government House, in New Providence. The two men are the first to be sworn in to Ministerial positions by the Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis.
K. Peter Turnquest, was appointed Minister of Finance and will also serve as Deputy Prime Minister in the new Free National Movement Cabinet. (BIS Photo/Letisha Henderson). Carl W. Bethel, Q.C., was appointed Attorney General. He has been named to the Senate, where he will serve as Leader of Government Business. (BIS Photos/Letisha Henderson)
Below are remarks by Prime Minister the Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis at the Swearing-In Ceremony of Minister of Finance and Attorney General.
Your Excellency, Dame Marguerite Pindling;
Colleagues and Members of Parliament-elect;
Secretary to the Cabinet;
Ladies and Gentlemen:
I thank you again for your gracious hospitality, and that of the fine staff of Government House.
Today, we begin the formation of The People’s Government.
In order to best serve the Bahamian people, my cabinet will blend experience with new talent and faces in government. Today’s appointments reflect this goal.
I thank Her Excellency for appointing the Hon. K. Peter Turnquest as Minister of Finance. He will also serve as Deputy Prime Minister.
Mr. Turnquest has extensive experience in business, having worked mostly in Grand Bahama and New Providence. He also has international business experience. He served as President of the Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce.
Mr. Turnquest is a Certified Chartered Accountant in the Bahamas. He served as Shadow Minister of Finance during the past five years.
He also has experience in a number of professional organizations including as a Member of the Inter-American Development Bank Civil Society Group.
Transparency and accountability in public finances were often absent by the former government in the past five years.
In the administration of public finances my government will adhere to the Constitution and to the 2010 Financial Administration and Audit Act.
We will adhere to other relevant laws and best practices of financial administration. We will also improve the administration of public finances through legislative and regulatory reform and modernization.
My government will ensure that the Public Treasury is utilized for the public good rather than directed toward private interest.
I will ever remind my ministers to avoid conflicts of interest in the exercise of their public duties.
Community and voluntary service will be an essential theme of my administration.
The cultivation of the common good should inspire in us all a commitment to serve our fellow-citizens, especially the least among us.
In this regard, I note Mr. Turnquest’s extensive community service.
He served as Chairman of the Grand Bahama Scout Association. He is a Rotarian and served with the Anglican Church Men at the Church of the Ascension in Grand Bahama.
Thank you for appointing the Hon. Carl Bethel, Q.C. as Attorney General, an important and essential constitutional office.
I am pleased to have advised his appointment to the Senate, where he will serve as Leader of Government Business. Mr. Bethel brings enormous experience to government.
He previously served as Attorney General from 2001 to 2002. He also previously served as Leader of Opposition Business in the Senate, and as a Member of Parliament for three terms.
Mr. Bethel served as Minister of Education, Youth and Sports from 2007 to 2009; as Minister of Economic Development from 2000 to 2001; and as Minister of State for Economic Affairs from 1997 to 1999. He also served as Chairman of BAIC from 1995 to 1997.
Mr. Bethel has an extensive background in the law. And he has what members of the legal profession describe as “a love of the law”.
He has been a lawyer for three decades. In 2015 he was appointed Queen’s Counsel.
Mr. Bethel has a deep knowledge of and appreciation for the Constitution. He was a member of the Constitutional Commission from 2012 -2013.
I note that Mr. Bethel has served our community as a Kiwanian. He is a Past-President of the Kiwanis Club of Fort Montagu.
As I have previously stated, my Government will respect and will be guided by the Constitution and the conventions of our parliamentary democracy.
It is essential that The People’s Government respects and is seen to respect the rule of law. We cherish and will protect the rights and freedoms of the Bahamian people.
Mr. Minister of Finance, Mr. Attorney General:
Fidelity to the oath you swore today is essential in order to provide the Bahamian people with a government of integrity.
Good and open government demands transparency and accountability. Good governance demands being responsible for our actions.
Accordingly, I will hold my minsters to the highest standards of ethical conduct in the performance of their public duties.
I look forward to working with you in a spirit of collegiality and collaboration, in a government which adheres to collective responsibility.
In congratulating you on your appointments, I commend to you the values of honesty, hard work, sacrifice and an abiding commitment to the dignity of the Bahamian people.
We must never forget that we serve as The People’s Government. The spirit of democracy must be our constant companion and guiding light.
God bless our Commonwealth. Thank you and good afternoon.