NASSAU - While thousands of Bahamians remain out of work during the Covid-19 pandemic, taxpayers are paying retired banker Nathaniel Beneby $150,000 annually with perks and benefits to train Minister of State for Finance Kwasi Thompson who was appointed to the important cabinet post despite his lack of experience in finance. Beneby was hired as Special Advisor in the Office of the Prime Minister.
In December, Thompson was named Minister of State for Finance after Peter Turnquest resigned as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance amid controversy over a $28 million bogus loan scheme he was allegedly involved in.
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis appointed himself as Minister of Finance but, unfortunately, it’s a case of the blind leading the blind and the country is stuck with two clueless finance ministers during the worst economic crisis in its history.
Minnis knows nothing about finance. During his time as opposition leader, he allowed Turnquest, his deputy, to give the FNM’s position on financial matters including the Budget Communication. When reporters tried to get Minnis’ thoughts on such issues, as party leader, he deferred questions to Turnquest because he was unable to articulate clear views on the country’s finances.
With Minnis as the substantive finance minister and Thompson - a mediocre lawyer who was loyal to Minnis - as his junior minister, Minnis had to bring Beneby out of retirement with a hefty salary and benefits to oversee the Ministry of Finance. It doesn’t help matters that Financial Secretary Marlon Johnson spends most of his time on social media trolling ordinary Bahamians who disagree with government policies.
As a result, struggling taxpayers are paying the salaries of a Minister of Finance, Minister of State for Finance, a Special Advisor in the Office of the Prime Minister and a Financial Secretary when only one of those men actually knows what he is doing.