Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Chairman Bradley Roberts said two-year-old Cabinet documents prove that former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham is “duplicitous” in his stance regarding the gambling referendum issue and noted that the former administration had planned to do the very same thing this government is doing about the illegal numbers business.
After months of emphatically stating that he would not vote in the January 28 referendum, on Thursday Mr. Ingraham declared that he plans to head to the polls on Monday and vote ‘no.’
In a release sent out late Thursday Mr. Roberts said Mr. Ingraham “has zero credibility” on the issue.
“This cannot be the same man who invited the web shop owners to make their financial statements available to the then FNM (Free National Movement) government in an effort to formulate an equitable taxation regime for that industry that he fully intended to legalise and regulate,” he said.
“I repeat the observations made by the FNM Cabinet headed by this same hypocritical Hubert Ingraham. These observations are in a recently released Cabinet document CO2246 on the minutes of a Cabinet meeting that took place on the 21st May 2010 (that reads) ‘…the law enforcement agencies have been ineffective in enforcing the laws against illegal gambling.’ He now conveniently says, ‘to excuse illegal behaviour because it is supposedly too expensive to counter is unconscionable.’”
Mr. Roberts added that Mr. Ingraham’s public comments on the upcoming referendum should be dismissed as “political rancor and sour grapes from a duplicitous former prime minister who once engaged the very web shop operators he now seeks to vilify and demonise. This is shameful.”
According to Mr. Roberts, the Cabinet document further said, “The observation was made that most of the numbers houses have duly applied for and obtained business licences…the state itself has added legitimacy to these operations by accepting business licence submissions and issuing duly approved licences.”
“The communication revealed that the FNM government intended to ‘take the steps to regularise these operators which have escaped national accounts for years,’” the PLP chairman said. “He now conveniently says, ‘to excuse illegal behaviour because some believe that it will bring additional revenue to the Public Treasury is similarly inexcusable.’ It is clear that Ingraham wanted to legalise web shop gaming to improve government revenue performance.”
Mr. Roberts said the Cabinet document further revealed that the former FNM government had plans to hold a referendum.
“Ingraham has totally and fully repudiated every single policy position he advanced and promoted as Prime Minister and expects for the Bahamian people to listen to him,” Mr. Roberts continued. “This is unprecedented in the history of Bahamian politics. This has never been done before. Ingraham has no credibility whatsoever.”
“He sits on the sidelines with no responsibility for governance and makes utterly outrageous and ridiculous statements about the industry when his government was responsible to issuing the lion share of web shop licenses and did not see its way to shut down these operations for their illegal behavior. This is absolutely incredible.”
Mr. Roberts said it seems as if Mr. Ingraham wants to settle a political score with the PLP over the “failed 2002 referendum.”
“This attempt to cowardly demonise the web shop owners and workers and use them as scapegoats is unseemly, petty and hypocritical,” Mr. Roberts added.
“I urge all Bahamians to firstly ignore Ingraham because you cannot trust anything he says. Secondly, I urge all Bahamians to exercise their rights and go out and vote their conscience on referendum day.”