MP claims reservist officers yet to be paid in over a year
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Englerston MP Glenys Hanna-Martin and Minister of National Security Marvin Dames had a brief but heated exchange in the House of Assembly yesterday after the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) MP accused the government of failing to pay reservist officers funds owed to them for working amid Hurricane Dorian in September 2019.
“The reservists have not been paid,” Hanna-Martin claimed during debate on the Bahamas Air Navigation Services Authority Bill, 2021; the Civil Aviation Bill, 2021; and the Civil Aviation Authority Bahamas Bill, 2021.
“I am told that since then, one has died. There is another one who is in the hospital.
“Please pay the reservists.
“They came out of their homes. They manned the shelters. Pay them. Pay the people.
“I have raised this before, you know. We should take a cut on our salaries in this House.
“We should be taking a cut, but we don’t want to do it. We don’t want to sacrifice, but we are telling people ‘you’ve got to wait a year, and two years for your money’.
“Something is wrong with that picture.
“You cannot send a signal that you are entitled to better standards or accommodations than your average Bahamians.”
Dames, who rose on a point of order, said he has previously addressed the matter.
He said: “For the good member of Englerston to stand up and speak as if she is the authority — yes I am, don’t worry, Carmichael dealt with you earlier, QC. He took you to school. You took his bag — let me say this, Mr Speaker. Don’t worry, Cat Island, you had a lesson in law today. And you call yourself a QC. You had a lesson in the law today, and you call yourself a QC, but I don’t have time for that.
“Mr Speaker, I have said it over and over; a Cabinet paper was presented to Cabinet during — not too long ago; at the end of last year — in respect to the overtime payments for police reservists. That was approved by Cabinet and sent back to the Royal Bahamas Police Force.”
Dames said he discussed the matter with the police commissioner recently to follow up.
“As far as I am aware and based on my conversation with the commissioner, there is nothing outstanding owing to the reserves in respect to overtime, as a result of the time or worked during Dorian. The member for Englerston intimated — I am setting the record straight — and her point was that it was agreed the reserves would be paid at the same rate as the career officers. She brought no evidence to that statement to prove that what she was saying was correct.
“So, she is being politically informed. I ask the member for Englerston to go back, to return to whoever is feeding her this information and tell them to go and have a word with the commissioner and let him set the record straight.
“It is sad that you continue to come to this Parliament with no evidence.
“You are acting as if you are the minister of national security because you come here speaking with so much strength, but nothing substantive to prove the comments that you are making.”
Hanna-Martin said while she does not think of herself as the minister of national security, she was informed by multiple members of the force of the same issue.
She asked the minister to go back and speak to the officers because “they are saying that they” have not been paid.
“One thing the member knows, if I have been here almost 20 years and I can tell you when I say something, you listen, okay,” she said.