By SANCHESKA BROWN
Tribune Staff Reporter
FNM LEADER Dr Hubert Minnis claimed yesterday that the UK consultants hired by the government to advise them on the upcoming referendum are accountants with no expertise in the gaming industry.
At a press conference yesterday Dr Minnis said Prime Minister Perry Christie is doing a “disservice” to the Bahamian people by receiving non expert advice on a matter of such grave importance.
“The Prime Minister asserts that he has received advice from what he calls ‘our international gaming advisor’s. The truth of the matter is that the government’s advisors have no professed
expertise whatsoever in the gaming industry. Those advisors are the British Accounting Firm, Dixon Wilson, whose published field of business is limited to accounting and tax advice. Their Internet web site specifically states that ‘we provide all the accountancy, audit and tax services you would expect.’ Nowhere does Dixon Wilson claim to any have expertise in advising on the gaming industry,” he said.
“Anyone can look up or Google the firm on the Internet and see that they do not anywhere claim to have any expertise to advise anyone on the issue of gambling. It is a disservice for the Prime Minister to receive non expert advice on a matter of such national importance and intricacy, as whether, and if so, how best to legalise and regularize web shop gambling or how to implement a national lottery. Such an undertaking calls for a responsible government to obtain the best advice possible from experts in the gambling industry, not from a firm of tax accountants, whose halting presentation on television could not inspire any confidence that they had any degree of familiarity, much less expertise in the gaming industry.”
Dr Minnis also criticized the government for failing to enforce existing Bahamian law and regulate web shops he claims are infringing upon the National Security of the Bahamas by having “quasi-banking operations.”
“The failure of the PLP government to enforce our laws in the face of this new development of the use of ATM machines and money transmission capacity by web shops is simply inexcusable,” he said. “There is no need to hold a referendum to prevent money laundering. All the government has to do, and can do as of today, is to take steps to apply existing Bahamian law. The failure of the government to do so is inexcusable. It is an absolutely unacceptable dereliction of duty on the part of the Prime Minister, his Attorney General and his Minister of National Security.”
When asked why the FNM government never enforced those laws Dr Minnis said: “That’s why you all throw us out!”
The FNM leader is also calling on the government to immediately appoint a nonpartisan National Consultative Commission on Gambling.
“The committee will look into all matters connected with web shops, the present social and economic impact, positive and negative, of illegal gambling, the likely future social and economic impact of legalized web shop gambling and a National Lottery and to present options for change ranging from the closure of web shops to differing possible options for their legalization or regularization as well as options for the possible implementation of a National Lottery,” he said.
Dr Minnis called for the government to immediately abandon the referendum until the Bahamian people have a impartial expert assessment of what a ‘Yes’ vote could mean for the country.