Democratic National Alliance (DNA) Leader Branville McCartney says Prime Minister Perry Christie is “out of order” for stating that he would not “dare” tell Bahamians not to work for number houses, even though they are illegal.
On Tuesday, shortly before heading into his weekly Cabinet meeting, Mr. Christie defended those Bahamians who are employed with the gambling racket, stressing that times are tough and the government is not in a position to assist everyone.
“I would not dare open my mouth and tell them they cannot be employed with the ‘Yes Vote’ people who they are working for. I would not dare do that because no one else is helping them – Social Services in some instances will help with rent payments, but they need jobs,” he said at the time.
“We can all go home, get in our beds, go to sleep and eat our food, but there are people out there by the thousands who can’t do the same We are going to have a real situation that we will be faced with if we get a ‘no’ vote.”
This month Bahamians will take part in a referendum to decide whether they want the web shops legalised.
Prime Minister Christie insists his government is neutral on the position and “has no horse in the race.” However, he has said that the country would have a dilemma if the electorate votes against regularising the number houses.
He also warned that if Bahamians overwhelmingly vote ‘no’ number house operators will have to go deeper underground or the government would have to find a way to provide alternative employment for those out-of-work employees.
“I am of the view that something is terribly wrong when the prime minister of The Bahamas uttered those words…trying to justify an illegal act,” the DNA leader said.
“Moreover, the prime minister was very much out of order and I dare say had no authority to make such a pronouncement. If an act is illegal, the prime minister does not determine if the illegal act ought to continue. It is [for] the commissioner of police to act on the illegality.”
Police Commissioner Ellison Greenslade recently admitted that he has been “too tolerant” with this illegal activity.
Mr. McCartney said clearly Mr. Christie is in a very difficult position.
“The fact of the matter is that illegal gaming in The Bahamas has continued to prosper because successive governments have become silent partners in these entities by allowing them to operate and refusing to uphold the law of the land. But, Mr. Prime Minister…right is right and wrong is wrong,” he said.
Mr. Christie has already stated that his administration will not shut down the web shops before the January 28 poll, as it would cost too much money and take a lot of effort to do so.
As it relates to those thousands of jobs that would be in jeopardy if the web shops are shut down, Mr. McCartney said it was the prime minister, who before taking office, convinced Bahamians that he and his Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) had a plan to create jobs.
Mr. McCartney, who previously served as a Cabinet minister in the Ingraham administration, said the prime minister should “never been seen to condone wrongdoing.”
“That is what our prime minister did. Leaders must lead by example and this is a very poor example to set. No wonder there are some persons in this country that have a blatant disregard for the laws of the land,” he said.
“Mr. Christie is still adamant that he does not have ‘a horse in the race.’ In my view, the prime minister made his position quite clear as to what he would like to see transpire on the 28th January. But in any event, we as a people should know what our prime minister’s position is on this issue. At the very least, the prime minister’s constituents ought to know his position. As a matter of fact…they should insist.”
He continued, “No doubt the international community is also watching this process and I am most concern of their perception of our prime minister and consequently The Bahamas as a result of [his] comments.”