Categorized | National News

Mitchell Defends Immigration Hires

After being accused by Bahamas Public Services Union John Pinder for making a “stupid” decision to hire some 200 immigration officers last year, former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Fred Mitchell said yesterday the hiring of those officers were in line and rather it should be the union president who is seen as “stupid.”

Mr. Pinder, who appeared as a guest on a local radio talk show this week, allegedly blamed Mr. Mitchell for the ordeal while talking to a caller who also alleged he knew someone who was hired during that time, but had not been paid.

“As for the use of the word ‘stupid,’ it seems to many in these circumstances, it is a word deserved for the man John Pinder in his home when he wakes up each morning and looks in the mirror,” Mr. Mitchell said.

Mr. Mitchell sought to validate the mass hiring in a statement where he revealed that the former Cabinet agreed to do so because of the demand for immigration officers therefore he agreed to increase the force to 900, three times its present size.

“The demand for immigration officers services are substantial with several ports in The Bahamas with no immigration officer at all, and with the incursion of irregular migrants to The Bahamas increasing,” he said.

The first approval was granted in April 2013, the second in September 2016 and the final in late 2016 or early 2017.

“There are several steps that had to be carried out: financial clearance and vetting are two major steps that are usually obstacles to progress in hiring. There were also arguments over qualifications and the ability of the Department of the Public Service and human resources at immigration itself to process applications,” he said.

“If the political directorate waited on the public service to get these steps done within its term, it would never have gotten anything done. The Cabinet therefore indicated that vetting in advance would be waived with the understanding that each person hired would know that if the vetting came back negative they had to be redeployed elsewhere in the service.”

The single biggest obstacle he noted however was the vetting process that routinely takes about nine months.

Ultimately, he said financial clearance was obtained for all.

“Mr. Pinder knows that routinely new teachers take anywhere from three months to six months to get their first pay cheque. Our systems are simply that bad.  It has nothing to do with the decisions to hire people being a stupid decision,” Mr. Mitchell said.

“Since Mr. Pinder is well aware of how the public service works and as head of the union for three terms, he should have used the occasion on radio to educate citizens on the problems of public administration in this country which have nothing to do with who the minister of the government is.”

The opposition senator went on to suggest that Mr. Pinder use his time more wisely, that is not using his time to tarnish Mr. Mitchell’s character.

“Since he is so interested in their welfare, he should check into reports that the government intends to fire some of those hired and is one month behind in the salary payments to officers, Instead, he used the occasion of the radio show to turn a matter of systemic poor public administration into another political hatchet job against me, Fred Mitchell, someone who he inexplicably hates,” he said.


Written by Jones Bahamas

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