By KHRISNA VIRGIL
Tribune Staff Reporter
PRIME Minister Perry Christie has admitted that he was surprised with the outcome of the referendum which sought to legalise the numbers racket.
Up to yesterday, Mr Christie remained tight-lipped over last Monday’s failed referendum, which was poorly supported at the polls and resulted in an unanimous no vote to both questions on the ballot.
In fact, the only utterance members of the public had from Mr Christie was a brief statement released by his office on the following day in which he said that the government would act in accordance with the no vote. He said all the web shops throughout the country had to close down. Later on Wednesday in the House of Assembly, he repeated his statement and refused questions from reporters.
Since then, and almost a week later, the numbers bosses have taken legal action to keep their businesses running.
Breaking the silence, Mr Christie said he believed that the “yes” and “no” votes would have been closer.
“Yes, I probably was surprised,” Mr Christie said, “I thought it would have been a much closer election.
“But you know I was prepared for any outcome. The matter is before the courts now and really I’m not going to speak to that issue, but we are prepared even for whatever decision is made in the courts.”
When asked if his administration dropped the ball during preparations for the referendum, Mr Christie said no.
The government has been heavily criticised for offering little to no education on what Bahamians were to expect in the event of both outcomes. Mr Christie had promised such initiatives, but those plans did not materialise.
What happens next is for the Minister of National Security Bernard Nottage and Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson to decide, Mr Christie said.
On Monday, documents were filed in the Supreme Court seeking an injunction to prevent the government from interfering with web shops.
Paradise Games president, Kevin Knowles, claimed that since 2010, the Ministry of Finance had knowledge of “all aspects” of the web cafe business. The Ministry still continued to issue business licenses, he said to those operations. It was that act on their behalf that qualified Paradise Games as a legitimate business.
He believes that Mr Christie’s order that all numbers businesses be shut down is unconstitutional as the referendum was nothing more than a non-binding opinion poll.