Former health minister calls for return of parliamentary democracy – Eye Witness News
NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Former health minister Dr Duane Sands said yesterday he would not support an extension of emergency orders for another month and called for a return to parliamentary democracy where lawmakers and the people they represent can determine the way forward.
“I think this COVID issue will be with us for a while and now we need to act to put all hands on the bridge,” Sands said.
“We have suspended parliamentary democracy for enough time and it is now important to get all the talent; all voices, representing all of the people in this country to help shape decision-making regarding our COVID response going forward.
“There are alternative methods that we can use to determine how the audience should react… We can have a law of procrastination. For example, suppose it ends at the end of December, requiring social distancing; wearing a mask, etc. But to work with what is apparently a limited legislative body, I don’t think it’s necessary.
“So let’s take over the role of all legislators. Let’s get the talent and skills from the whole company, so that we can work together to get the Bahamas out of this difficulty that we find ourselves in. “
The government intends to extend the state of public emergency and emergency orders until October 31.
The extension would allow the competent authority – the Prime Minister – to maintain existing emergency measures or modify them at his discretion to mitigate the spread of the virus.
These include curfews, closures of prohibited establishments, and other health restrictions and guidelines.
Existing orders will end on September 30.
Despite his lack of support for an extension of emergency orders, Sands said he did not think the Bahamas had reached the point where it could “open fully and safely.”
“We are still seeing far too many cases for such a small country and we are not adequately testing to determine the full extent,” he said.
“If you look at the recent statistics released by the Chief Medical Officer, about 25% of all tests are positive.
“We can only be reassured if we haven’t seen more than five percent of the positive tests. This is the international standard.
“And so, we don’t fully know the extent of the cases, but what we do know is that our hospitals are full.
“What we do know is that we are struggling to maintain an adequate number of health care workers, and we are going to have to balance the openness of the economy with the health problems.”
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis tabled the resolution and informed Parliament that it would be debated at the next sitting.
The Prime Minister urged Bahamians and residents to sacrifice themselves for an additional three weeks to help continue the downward trend in COVID-19 cases, particularly in New Providence.
The House is scheduled to meet on Wednesday next week.
There have been mixed reactions to the expansion.
Contacted about the measure, Pineridge MP Frederick McAlpine said: “I support the government trying to balance itself with emergency order and the economy.”
However, lawyer Wayne Munroe, QC called the one-month extension “inadmissible.”
While questioning whether the Bahamas could still be considered a state of public emergency given the vast extent of easements restrictions, Munroe said the government could enforce much of the existing regulations and guidelines through the common right.
He suggested the prime minister was “lost” and failed to grasp the importance of a state of emergency.