Categorized | Featured, National News

PM Baffled By BCC Referendum Request


Prime Minister Perry Christie said he is wondering why members of the Bahamas Christian Council (BCC) have waited until now to express their objection to one of the referendum questions.

According to Prime Minister Christie, members of the BCC were among the first people to know of the questions and had ample time to voice their concerns.

“The great difficulty about all of these things is that I met with the Christian Council,” he said. “I gave the church ample opportunity to look at the questions, to ask me any questions they wished to ask me and I answered all questions forthrightly and in a very candid way and I think we all agreed that it was a meeting for its kind.

“It was only after the regulations had been promulgated and they have been, so to speak, institutionalised, that this has come up.”

The BCC and the Vote No campaign have requested that the government change the first referendum question replacing the word ‘regulate’ with ‘legalise.’

The prime minister said he has since given instructions to the minister in charge of elections Dr. Bernard Nottageto respond to that request.

Late last week the Christian Council sent a letter to Dr. Bernard Nottage, to register their objections to the wording of the first ballot question; “Do you support the regulation and taxation of web shop gaming?”

“It is our considered view that this question is incorrectly worded and our specific objection is to the word regulation,” the BCC said in its letter. “We are of the view that the correct and transparent word that should be used in its stead is the word legalisation.

“Hence, the question that should be asked of the Bahamian people is, ‘Do you support the legalisation and taxation of web shop gaming?’”

According to the Christian Council, the use of the word ‘regulation’ wrongly implies that web shop gaming is legal and merely needs to be regulated.

“If only the mere regulation of web shops is needed, why does the government need the opinion of voters to make a decision to regulate them,” the Christian Council added.

“We believe that the web shop gambling question is currently worded in favour of a yes vote. As currently worded, some Bahamians who wish to vote no to the legalisation of web shop gambling might feel forced to vote yes for its regulation in fear that a no vote would mean that the government will leave web shops to continue operating as they currently are. The word regulation confuses the issue.”

However, Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe said the BCC’s request is a reasonable one.

“The Cabinet will look at it and determine whether or not it ought to be,” he said. “It’s a reasonable request and I’m sure it’s going to be considered. I can’t speak for the Cabinet and I can’t speak for the prime minister. The prime minister will lead that discussion and then a decision would be made.”

The gambling referendum is set for January 28.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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