By KYLE WALKINE
Tribune Staff Reporter
CABINET will today decide when webshop legislation will be brought before Parliament, according to National Security Minister Dr Bernard Nottage. The government intends to regulate the sector and has said taxes on the industry will be retroactive to July 1.
Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe had indicated the bill to regulate the sector, an amended Gaming Bill, would be brought to the House of Assembly this week.
However, on Sunday he told The Tribune that the legislation will not be tabled in Parliament on Wednesday as expected. Mr Wilchcombe could only say that the Gaming Bill “will come soon”.
At last report, Prime Minister Perry Christie said the government had to ensure that the legislation is in line with international financial standards.
However, FNM Leader Dr Hubert Minnis believes this delay is only the latest of the Christie administration’s “broken promises” to the Bahamian people, which fall in line with their “track record of disaster”.
“The PLP has proven themselves to have a track record of broken promises,” Dr Minnis told The Tribune yesterday. “They are totally irresponsible.”
Dr Minnis said the fact that government has delayed tabling the legislation to have it reviewed by international bodies proves how “ill-prepared” they are.
“When a leader is making a decision, he should think what the outcome may be,” Dr Minnis said.
“All of these unforeseen issues should have been anticipated. That is poor leadership.”
The FNM leader also once again referred to the government’s decision to go against the results of last year’s gaming referendum, which showed that the majority of those who voted preferred web shops not to be regulated.
“They took the gambling issue to the people and the people voted no,” he said. “The prime minister said he would follow the outcome.”
“To reverse the decision of the people is bordering on dictatorship. (Sir Lynden) Pindling must be turning over in his grave to see what is going on in his party, to see that his party is making a complete mess of the gambling issue and against the wishes of the people.”
Dr Minnis said if the government is allowed to go against the wishes of the Bahamian people in a referendum, then what would stop them from doing it again.
He questioned what the government would do if the next general election is not in its favour.
Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson is out of the country consulting with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on the legislation. The government expects to have an update on her meeting tomorrow.
According to Mr Wilchcombe, the minister with responsibility for gaming, the FATF will review the Christie administration’s final legislation and give feedback on whether there are sufficient mechanisms to prevent possible money laundering and black listing.
On Sunday, Baha Mar Senior Vice-President of External and Governmental Affairs Robert “Sandy” Sands has called the government’s delay of web shop legislation “disappointing”.