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Wilchcombe And Minnis Clash Over Fnm's Previous Position On Legalising Webshops

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Obie Wilchcombe

By AVA TURNQUEST

Tribune Chief Reporter

aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

WEST Grand Bahama and Bimini MP Obie Wilchcombe yesterday blasted Opposition Leader Dr Hubert Minnis over his stance against the legalisation and regularisation of webshops.

Mr Wilchcombe, Minister of Tourism with responsibility for gaming, charged that a true leader would not “flip-flop” as he outlined the previous support of such an initiative by the FNM when it was the government.

His comments, addressed directly to Dr Minnis during his contribution to debate over the Gaming Bill in the House of Assembly, were later expunged from the record.

Mr Wilchcombe dismissed opposition criticism of the proposed legislation, adding that the first Bahamian government faced similar concerns in its move to legalise casino gaming.

“I don’t have to make a speech in this area, all I have to do is quote the former prime minister,” he said, “because I am so confused by the present leader of the Opposition.”

“I don’t know when he (Dr Minnis) was elected to the House of Assembly, I don’t know if he knows when he was a minister. I can’t understand it.”

Mr Wilchcombe said: “Twenty-one years ago when I came into parliament I took a position then, the same position that (Hubert) Ingraham makes because he’s right. But let me ask you a question Killarney (Dr Minnis), was Ingraham then trying to take care of backers? That’s what you allege, you allege that now, that’s what he (Dr Minnis) said – gaming bill for the selected few, reward for PLP backers.

“Is that why you (FNM) came up with the laws, Computer Waging Licence Act 2010?”

Mr Wilchcombe tabled articles published in The Tribune on February 15, 2008; April 14, 2010; and December 13, 2011 – all of which indicated the FNM’s support for legalising web shop gaming due to the inability to enforce a shutdown and the country’s fiscal challenges, and attempts made to initiate the process.

“At the end of the day we don’t back down from what we believe in, that’s not what we must do. We wish to take positions that we think would be politically attractive and sexy and we don’t understand, that’s not leadership,” he said.

“The truth is they (FNM) had a position, I supported that position then, I supported their position. I never believed that now the present leader of the Opposition is now pretending that he knew nothing about nothing.”

He added: “The web shops got their licences because of the FNM.”

Dr Minnis stood on a point of order to assert that his position against the move to legalise web shops was rooted in the principle that the Bahamian people voted against it in the 2013 gaming referendum.

Mr Wilchcombe also pointed out that former prime minister Hubert Ingraham also declared that the government would have to consider alternative taxes after it dropped efforts to regulate web shops.

“It’s disappointing because we can’t take this country forward until such time as the Opposition begins to appreciate that some things aren’t political,” he said. “Leaders don’t do that, you stand for what you believe in, you die for what you believe in.”

Comments

GrassRoot 5 years, 2 months ago

Obi wan kanobi's fight just confirms how much is at stake. this is a government in the bag of organized crime - yes as of now they are still criminals and will be even after the legislation has passed.

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TalRussell 5 years, 2 months ago

When the actions of a government crosses all party lines. The Christie administration (the government still belongs to the people) cannot really expect to get away with standing up in the "Peoples" Honourable House of Assembly to slash and burn the regime of former PM Hubert as a way to escape why this PLP administration is so hell bent with their prioritizing the "regularization" of the numbers men's operations. Voters were summoned to the polling stations in what they thought was to be democracy at work, speaking loudly to Comrade Minster Obie and his PLP cabinet colleagues, that the hopes of its citizens to balance the nation's budget is not to be done through the "regularizing" of some fantasy $40 million in potential taxes collected from a small club of special gambling interests. Minister it is not the fault of the former PM that the new roads constructed in Nassau Town are daily growing weeds by leaps and bounds. That vital to the economy infrastructures are being neglected? That NO government ministries or departments are properly functioning? Is it the former PM's fault that we have many more thousands of our paychecks strapped families using food banks across our Bahamaland?

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birdiestrachan 5 years, 2 months ago

Regularisation of the web shops is the right thing to do ..Many of those who cry "Foul" gamble every day. God made us with the ability to make choices. Every adult decides if they want to gamble or not.

Those men are not criminals and organized crime has nothing to do with it., Those who gamble now will continue to do so, and those who do not gamble will not start. Folks acts as if it becomes legal mother, Father and children will all of a sudden begin gambling. Perhaps now they will have money to clean the streets.

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ThisIsOurs 5 years, 2 months ago

Hmmm...Ryan Pinder says one of the criteria for holding a license is a clean criminal record. Wasn't Flowers in front of the court for something or the other? What about that human smuggling allegation raised in the US on the other webshop owner? Would these two then be disqualified?

Birdie you can support whatever cause you wish, but gambling does not create anything, it is simply an implicit tax on the poor. In short all the hullabaloo is indeed a payback for the political backers, a few wealthy people will get wealthier and a few more politicians will magically become overnight millionaires. But that's about it.

BTW Trump Casinos just filed for bankruptcy, apparently the big casinos and gambling didn't save Atlantic City....

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jlcandu 5 years, 2 months ago

Birdie,

The fact that the numbers houses have had gambling activities operating under the misnomer of "web shops" without a casino license means that they have been breaking the law of the Bahamas since they opened. All the profits they earned are proceeds of crime.

Stop being an idiot!!! Open your eyes and stop looking through your gold rush coloured glasses!!!

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Well_mudda_take_sic 5 years, 2 months ago

Minnis is paying the price for his refusal to state for the public record that the FNM would repeal all legislation that the current PLP government is seeking to pass to legalize the criminal activities of the corrupt racketeering numbers mobsters like Craig Flowers. The fact that Minnis is prepared to let a clown like Wilchcombe poke fun of him does not auger well for the leadership capabilities of Minnis, or LBT for that matter. Same can be said for McCartney and the DNA! All of these imbeciles seem hell bent on allowing criminals like Craig Flowers to take control of our government because of their lame feeble excuse that people are going to gamble no matter what! These politicians are so motivated by $ signs that they would next legalize drug dealing by stating that people are going to take illegal drugs no matter what! Well, what about all of us Bahamians who do not participate in illegal web shop gambling and who do not take illegal drugs....DON'T WE DESERVE TO BE PROTECTED FROM THE SCOURGE OF OTHER CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES THAT FLOW FROM SUCH ILLEGAL ACTIVITIES THAT DESTROY OUR FAMILIES AND THE VERY SOUL OF OUR SOCIETY?!! This lot of politicians we have today have absolutely no moral values or principles whatsoever from which they may ground decisions that must be made in the best interest of the Bahamian people. THEY ARE LOST SOULS AND WE MUST DO THE RIGHT THING AT THE POLLS COME THE NEXT GENERAL ELECTION TO FREE OURSELVES OF THESE GOD FORSAKEN IDIOTS!!!

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ihadit 5 years, 2 months ago

The PLP is in no position to talk about flip flopping. AFTER the referendum, Perry Christie (PM) said that ALL number houses should close, or suffer the consequences. The PM also said that he (PLP also) had no horse in the race. Later he said that he regretted holding the referendum and that he should have just legalize and regulated the gambling houses. Much later, the PLP now appears to be saying... 'TO HELL WITH THE BAHAMIAN PEOPLE!, as it seems more important for the PLP to line their pockets with DIRTY money instead.

Please people, DO NOT FALL for the 'gaming house are too big to stop' excuses. This is no more that hog wash. They are just using this so that we Bahamians can be brainwashed into believe such nonsense. If the PLP or FNM were serious about closing the web shops, they would have done so a long time ago. It is NEVER TOO LATE!

I wonder how many cabinet minister got paid off to vote yes to the gaming BILL. Let it be known that we Bahamians are taking notes, and writing down names of those MPs who went against our wishes for the day of recompense is nearing.

I must add one more thing... The PLP would love for us to believe that the web shop monies, and the taxes therefrom are sacred and more valuable than regular money. Let them (gambling houses) take their money and spent it elsewhere, we do not need their monies. What the hell is $40M a year, and up to $25M a year for a country. That is nothing at all. Some small businesses in the USA make over $100M a year, and our misfits politicians cannot even turn over a dime. NO VISION AT ALL!!!

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TalRussell 5 years, 2 months ago

If it was handed to the Commish of Policeman's to conduct the character and police checks on all the 'regularizing" numbers applicants, I'm Jesus curious what was in his report back to the PM and Minister Obie? I can't imagine there being no background checks performed? Can you?

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realTalk 5 years, 2 months ago

In My View ALL of the current number houses owners should not be able to get or apply for any licenses, they currently breakin da law yes....and they need clean records.........SO WHEN THEY LEGALIZE THE WEED,,,,,,,,,THE DRUG DEALERS ARE GONNA BE REGULARIZED TOO I GUESS??????

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TalRussell 5 years, 2 months ago

Comrades the devil is in the details. Common policing sense should have seen intelligence gathering and surveillance of those suspected of operating any front for illegal activities. None other than the PM and Minister Obie are on record as having stated that persons selling numbers are operating contrary to the law. If such surveillance files do exist, what is to become of them? Ignored, dismissed or to be forever shredded? The reason Minnis is not being taken seriously by his own party supporters, is his opposition to the numbers "regularizing" is nothing more than lip service. Why wouldn't the opposition leader not have asked these same most puzzling questions? The question has always been to what lengths of political interference is this government prepared to go to, to push their numbers agenda through the House and Senate? Comrades you would have be a complete dunce three times over not to believe the policeman's have not over the many years, conducted intelligence on the numbers businesses? But will they even read it once the Commish has handed it over?

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ThisIsOurs 5 years, 2 months ago

One of these guys is WANTED in the US for human smuggling.

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birdiestrachan 5 years, 2 months ago

remember DR. Minnis stood on the house floor and said his mother sent him to school of numbers. They were going to make the numbers business legal. But Papa Hubert and his son Hubert decided they will play pay back. and decided to vote No. They got some FNM Pastors to assist them in their no vote. It is all about spite and nothing about the advancement of the Bahamas .. So they say no to everything.

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PKMShack 5 years, 2 months ago

@birdie you is one ass. are you aka PGC AND CREW. if YOUR SENSE OF LOGIC IS TODAYS BAHAMAIN WE ARE DOOMED

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birdiestrachan 5 years, 2 months ago

You can call me what ever you like, but while you are at it remember it takes one to know one. I only spoke the Truth, Dr. Minnis stood on the house floor and said his mother sent him to school from numbers. now he calls them criminals. when did that happen ? I Under stand the Truth hurts. But it remains and will stand the test of time. The FNM Government was going to make Web shops legal, Ask Mr: Bran.

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pat242 5 years, 2 months ago

I seriously do not know what Hubert Minnis making noise over. When the F.N.M was in power the Former Prime Minister along with Mr. Minnis was making head way for legalizing the web shops. All of this is noise in the market so the people would lose track of the important issues in the country. P.L.P and the F.N.M are friends, lovers, business partners and family. I know of a certain business where both senior members of the P.L.P and the F.N.M was running operations, and when they decided to abandon the business they left outstanding taxes. So no one is better than the other.

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