Minister of Foreign Affairs and Public Service Fred Mitchell said the government wants to construct a new Parliament building, which he said he hopes will be completed in three years.
“We want a new Parliament building,” he said in the House of Assembly yesterday.
“I’ve been tasked with putting a new foreign affairs building and to put in place new rules, in cooperation with the other side, so that this place can run more efficiently.”
Mitchell said the buildings now are “inadequate” and in a poor state.
“It’s clearly inadequate,” he said.
“I mean, you can’t have rats running around.
“When you go into the Senate, you know, rats [are] running across your feet. There’s an awful smell. It’s just awful. And then members of Parliament don’t even have control over their own budget. That seems to be ludicrous.
“So, Madame Speaker, we want to move in the direction of making sure that that is established properly, that there are three branches of government — the executive, legislative and judicial.
“And so, there needs to be a new building.
“I want to get it done in three years, turn key. So, before you go, you all should be in a new building.
“Now, I am aspirational, and I have seen how the Middle East societies operate.
“You’ve got to set a goal. Otherwise, you’re not going to get there.”
The suggestion that a new Parliament is necessary is not a new one.
During the Christie administration, a parliamentary select committee recommended that MP salaries be reviewed and that a new Parliament be constructed. At the time, the suggestion drew fierce criticism.
However, Mitchell said yesterday that it’s important for The Bahamas to have buildings that represent the modern-day country.
“I say to myself these buildings have been occupied since 1815,” he said.
“They came here at a time when the wealth of the society increased because of the Loyalists after the revolution of the United States and these buildings were emblematic of that period in our society.
“We have been independent now almost 50 years and … we haven’t put our imprint on the country with anything which says, ‘This is us and this represents us.’”