Categorized | National News

Nottage Backtracks On Referendum Costs

National Security Minister Dr. Bernard Nottage is backtracking on comments he made last week that January’s gaming referendum cost the government about $ 5 million.

Those comments prompted the Opposition to call for an audit into the January 28 referendum.

Yesterday in a press statement, the minister said information coming in from the Parliamentary Registration Department revealed that the actual cost of the referendum was $1,238,092.95.

But the minister sought to chastise the media for publishing the incorrect figures.

“Almost immediately, I told the reporters, who were from the Broadcasting Corporation of The Bahamas, Cable TV 12 and the Nassau Guardian, that I was uncertain about the actual amount. Nevertheless the figure was published in the Nassau Guardian in its Friday 4th edition,” Dr. Nottage said.

“As a result, in a note that I wrote to the author of the article and to his superiors on another matter, I pointed out that I thought it was unfair for them to have used that figure.
I note that today several newspapers, including the Nassau Guardian and others, who had no personnel present at the interview, have also carried a story using the same figure.
I wish to point out that I am now in possession of the exact figure, which has been provided for me by the Parliamentary Registration Department.”

He continued, “I regret any misunderstanding that I may have created.”

During a press conference over the weekend, Opposition Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis said there is a complete disconnect between Prime Minister Perry Christie and Dr. Nottage.

“The prime minister is obviously displaying that he does not have his finger on the pulse. Either he is deceiving the Bahamian public or he does not know. When a minister of finance does not know what is going on in his portfolio that is very dangerous for the country. What that means is that the other ministries can be spending more than what was budgeted to them or spending their monies very early because the minister with responsibility for finance does not know – he does not have his hands on the pulse.”

In January’s referendum, Bahamians were asked to vote on whether the government should regularise and tax web shops and if they would support the establishment of a national lottery.

Bahamians rejected both questions.

Soon after Prime Minister Christie ordered the shutdown of web shops, but that was met with a legal challenge by web shop owners.

Web shops remain open until that challenge heads to trial.

Meanwhile, the government is preparing for its first round of constitutional reform referenda by June 2014.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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