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John Michael Clarke appointed Disaster Reconstruction Authority chairman

The Nassau Guardian December 2, 2019 Jasper Ward

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced yesterday that John Michael Clarke will serve as chairman of the Disaster Reconstruction Authority.

Algernon Cargill, the director of aviation, will serve as vice-chairman of the authority, according to the prime minister.

“I thank both of them for agreeing to serve in these capacities and for their work in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian,” Minnis said during a press conference at the Office of the Prime Minister.

“The Disaster Reconstruction Authority Act, 2019 also provides for a managing director. I am pleased that Mrs. Kay Forbes-Smith has agreed to serve in this capacity. Mrs. Forbes-Smith has resigned as president of the Senate to take up her new duties.”

Forbes-Smith officially resigned on November 27, according to her resignation letter, which was obtained by The Nassau Guardian.

Dorian pulverized Abaco and Grand Bahama in early September.

On September 22, Minnis announced that he had formed a new ministry – the Ministry of Disaster, Preparedness, Recovery and Reconstruction — to oversee reconstruction efforts in areas affected by the Category 5 storm.

“The main body of the ministry will function as an authority similar to the Public Hospitals Authority,” the prime minister said at the time.

“The authority will be responsible for the reconstruction of Abaco and East Grand Bahama.”

Yesterday, Minnis said the salary scale for the authority “will be determined” by the Ministry of Disaster Preparedness.

He noted that “for the first time ever there’s a clause within that act that salaries cannot go beyond 20 percent of the budget”.

“That is necessary,” the prime minister told reporters.

“Why? Because we have certain government agencies that salaries comprise 99 percent of the budget and still they’re asking for a raise and increase.

“We cannot continue down that road and therefore it’s essential for us to put guidelines, 20 percent it cannot exceed. To go beyond that, you have to go to Parliament and explain that to the public as to why you want to go and spend the public’s money.”

The authority has responsibility for the management and oversight of reconstruction in disaster zones.

The prime minister is able to appoint a minister of state responsible for the oversight of the authority. The act also grants the prime minister the power, in consultation with relevant authorities, to declare an area a disaster zone.

The authority is permitted to accept, deposit and act as trustee and manager of gifts and donations for the purpose of reconstruction in a disaster zone. It is also able to enter into contracts to carry out reconstruction efforts and appoint employees as considered necessary.

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