Categorized | National News

Minnis Questions PM’s Credibility

The Free National Movement (FNM) is questioning the prime minister’s credibility after he admitted that next month’s gambling referendum is “unconstitutional” and amounts to an “opinion poll” and that the London-based consultant group hired to advise the government on the gambling referendum did not submit a report to his administration.

In a statement sent out by FNM Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis Wednesday, the FNM said Perry Christie’s remarks “stretched the bounds of believability.”

“The Bahamian people now have serious grounds to be confused and possibly alarmed,” Dr. Minnis said.

“In the first instance, the prime minister suggested to reporters that what was heretofore described as a referendum on web shops that would serve as a mandate for government’s subsequent action, had in the twinkling of an eye become an ‘opinion poll.’ This is totally unbelievable. The prime minister’s communication to Parliament, given only [six] days ago, was entitled ‘Referendum on web shop gaming.’

Dr. Minnis said the prime minister used the term “referendum” at least 22 times and there was no reference to an opinion poll.

“We have only the prime minister’s comments as reported on radio, but if those radio excerpts are to be believed, the Bahamian people are entitled to a more comprehensive set of explanations from Mr. Christie,” he said.

“It is not at all clear whether the prime minister’s change in terminology signifies a meaningful change in the proposed policy. Is the prime minister suggesting that if the people vote “NO” as public outcry now seems to be suggesting, that his government will push ahead with legalisation anyway, because the ‘no’ vote was merely an ‘opinion poll’ result and not a firm directive from the people that the government is duty bound to follow? The prime minister needs to set the record straight and fast.”

Dr. Minnis added that after several weeks of touting the strength of the foreign consultants, the he has now said that the consultants did not really produce a report.

He added that no report can be given to the Opposition or the Bahamian people.

“We find that very hard to believe,” Dr. Minnis said.

“In fact, in his communication to Parliament, the [prime minister] discussed the consultants’ ‘considered’ advice on the subject of whether to have a national lottery. Yet, the prime minister now says that the considered advice can now be, and in fact has been, distilled to a few pages in a letter. The FNM expected to see conclusions drawn from rigorous analysis with clear discussion of the methodologies employed. But alas, it appears that no analysis was done at all. We do hope that our preliminary assessments are not correct. Again, the prime minister has some explaining to do.”

The FNM said it appears that a fix was in place from the very start.

“Consideration of a national lottery appears to never have been on the table. In simple words, we question whether the Bahamians people have been set up,” Dr. Minnis said.

When asked when the public would receive a report that the consultants provided, Prime Minister Christie said, “what report?”

“With respect to physical reports, there are like five, six, seven different letters to us, no report. The only report that has been done is that mammoth report done by the Bahamas Hotel Association where they are making recommendations for changes to the gaming laws and the games that are played in The Bahamas to make The Bahamas more competitive. That’s a huge compendium of reports,” he told reporters before heading into a Cabinet meeting.

“We can arrange for these people to sit before you and answer any question you’d wish to have answered. I can make that available so they could give you the benefit of their views.”

Dr. Minnis said the FNM wants to take Mr. Christie up on that offer.

“We will make our parliamentary team available at the first opportunity next week. As the consultants prepare to meet the Opposition, we want the prime minister to make available all reports, terms of engagements, correspondences and a copy of the engagement contract. With 3-5 pages delivered, the Bahamians people are entitled to know if they got value for money,” he said.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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