By SANCHESKA BROWN
Tribune Staff Reporter
FNM LEADER Dr Hubert Minnis said yesterday he did not believe that Dr Bernard Nottage “made a mistake” when he said the gaming referendum costs the government $5 million.
In fact, Dr Minnis demanded that the government table a complete breakdown of the costs associated with the “opinion poll”, including how much the government spent on the UK and South African consultants, when the House meets today.
“We are asking for them to table all the bills, all the documents in Parliament and all the ancillary costs that go with it. I just don’t want the parliamentary section, I want everything, especially how much they paid the groups that came in from South Africa. We never knew what was paid to them, now their bill is a part of this package, their bill could be two, three million, I don’t know, so that must be tabled. The Bahamian people must know how our money is being spent,” he said.
“I don’t think Nottage saying 5 million was a mistake, but from what I am reading the 1.2 million dollars is limited to the Parliamentary section. I need to see all the ancillary bills and know the entire package, the entire cost and we would look forward to the entire thing being tabled in Parliament. All of that is a part of the referendum and all of that may possibly make up the $5 million. It may be more, I don’t know and that is why it is essential for transparency to prevail and to be accountable to the people and accountability to the people means that you must table all documents, all bills and expenditures related to the referendum. When you add all of that up and show it’s more that what they are stating because they might be giving us just one aspect of the pie, I want the entire cake, don’t tell me what one slice cost. I want the entire cake, tell me what the cake, the icing and the box cost, I just don’t want to know what one slice cost, I want the entire cake, the Bahamian people want to know what the entire cake, the icing and the box cost.”
Dr Minnis said even if the final cost is $1.2 million, he feels that is still “too much money to be spent on an opinion poll.”
His comments came as National Security Minister Dr Bernard Nottage backtracked on his announcement that the vote which sought to legalise the numbers business – which he first pegged at more than $5 million – actually cost taxpayers $1,238,092.95.
Last week, Dr Nottage told reporters that the referendum’s expenditure was around $5 million, quite a leap in figures from Prime Minister Perry Christie’s estimation weeks earlier that it cost more than $1 million.
However, in a press statement Monday, Dr Nottage, who is responsible for overseeing the elections and referendums, said he regretted the misunderstanding that he might have created.