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Minister Of Finance Allegation Called Reckless

Former Minister of State for Finance, Michael Halkitis said there is “absolutely no foundation” to allegations by Minster of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest, that Progressive Liberal Party ‘cronies’ received $42 million from what should have been funds used for Hurricane relief. He called the allegations “reckless.”

Speaking Love 97’s Issues of the Day, via telephone, the former Member of Parliament for Golden Isles refuted claims made by Mr. Turmquest that the Progressive Liberal Party used the hurricane relief money to buy election votes.

Mr. Halkitis told the show’s host, Mr. Wendall Jones, that he was shocked to hear the sitting minister of finance say that the $42 million out of $150million borrowed for Hurricane Relief could not be found.

He said by the time the Christie Administration left office, the full loan had not been drawn down.

“I must say that I was shocked, as I am sure many Bahamians were shocked to first hear the Minister of Finance say that $42 million could not be accounted for.

 

Mr. Halkitis also stated that he found allegations made concerning the PLP buying elections votes disturbing.

“Then you have him in the press saying this money was diverted to win an election and that it went to PLP cronies.

“ I must say that I am disturbed by these unfortunate and intemperate comments without any evidence whatsoever as presented by the Minister of Finance,” Mr. Halkitis said.

Mr. Halkitis further went on to reflect on other allegations made by the Free National Movement (FNM) before they became the government and noted that they were all made without any facts.

“If we want to put this in context it needs for us to just reflect back during the election campaign.

“The Free National Movement ran ads where they said $2 billion in VAT money was stolen; notwithstanding that we have not collected $2 billion in VAT money.

“They claimed that $47 million was missing from Road Traffic department.

“They claimed that $25 million was stolen from the Mortgage Relief program all without any foundation whatsoever.

“Total fabrications, in fact, immediately following the General Election you had the Chairman of the Free National Movement Sidney Collie come out and say that they always knew that no VAT money was stolen.

“And so, making these claims is bad enough in an election campaign, but now post election to have the gentleman who sits as minister of finance continue to make these claims with absolutely no foundation is very disturbing,” Mr. Halkitis said.

With regard to the hurricane relief money, Mr. Halkitis explained that as for what he knows and has been advised, the money was used for hurricane related expenses.

“On March 29th of this year the prime minister at the time, The Hon. Perry Christie gave an update on how the money had been spent so far, in terms of direct hurricane related expenses, for cleanup, relief cost, home reconstruction and reconstruction with respect to schools, and other public buildings and as well a loan program that we put in place to assist public servants with the reconstruction of their homes.

“We expect, that program continue and funds continues to be extended.

“The $150 million went into the treasury and is drawn down for hurricane related expenses, for those things and inclusive of revenue shortfall,” Mr. Halkitis explained.

As for anyone wanting to trace the funds, Mr. Halkitis stated that it was an easy task and suggested that if the minister of finance were to make inquiries he’d get the answers he needs

“It’s easy for the Minister of Finance to ask the treasurer or the auditor general for a report that will give him all the information that he needs.

“It’s unfortunate and I think it’s a reckless statement to allege now that $42 million was diverted to PLP cronies as he puts it, with absolutely no supporting evidence is very, very, unfortunate,” Mr. Halkitis said.

When asked if the entire sum of the borrowed $150 million was drawn down, before the PLP were voted out of office, Mr. Halkitis confirmed that when the former administration left office the entire amount had not yet been used.

“The entire amount had not been drawn down, I do not recall the whole thing being drawn down.

“Elections were in May, the hurricane was last year, in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane there was the cleanup, there was some reconstruction.

“The housing program had not gotten full steam in terms of the housing repair.

“So, I’m pretty sure that the $150 million had not been totally expended by the time we left,” Mr. Halkitis said.

Just days after Hurricane Matthew ravaged islands in The Bahamas in October of 2016, the Christie administration borrowed $150 million to help finance the cost of repairs for not only Hurricane Matthew, but also Hurricane Joaquin that impacted the country the previous year.

Minister of Finance, Peter Turnquest, last week during his contributing in the House of Assembly stated that only $108 million of the $150 million could be traced.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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