FNM Deputy Leader Peter Turnquest.
By SANCHESKA BROWN
Tribune Staff Reporter
FREE National Movement Chairman Sidney Collie said yesterday the party’s upcoming three-day convention will be on the “frugal side” with the convention committee focusing less on the “bells and whistles” regularly associated with such events and more on policy and substance.
At a press conference at the party’s headquarters on Mackey Street, Mr Collie said the FNM is still $150,000 shy of its $350,000 goal for the convention but he said the party’s finance committee is holding a meeting today and he
expects more money will be coming in.
Mr Collie said FNM conventions usually cost between $350,000 and $500,000 and are funded by the party’s finance committee, but because of the “unusual circumstances in which the convention was pushed up” the party had to be “creative” with how the funds would be raised.
The $350,000 will cover full arrangements and accommodations for all 410 delegates.
For the first time in FNM history, the candidates vying for the party’s top post, current FNM Leader Dr Hubert Minnis and Long Island MP Loretta Butler-Turner, were asked to raise $100,000 each to defray the costs of next week’s event.
The finance committee will raise the additional $150,000. As of Wednesday, Dr Minnis had paid in full, Mrs Butler-Turner had only paid half and the finance committee has contributed $50,000.
Mr Collie said there has been no agreement to reimburse the candidates and anyone who enters the race last minute will not be required to come up with any money.
“You will recall that the convention was originally scheduled for November and it was moved up to July, the very act of moving it up three months put the FNM in a bind with raising funds.... For the first time in the history of the party but because of the peculiar nature of how we came about for a date in July, it is not surprising that something had to be done to raise the funds and in the circumstances that’s what the FNM did,” Mr Collie said.
“This is a classic case for campaign finance reform. At some point in the future the country is going to have to decide how major political parties are going to find money for these kinds of events. Until that happens political parties will be forced to become creative in how they raise the funds.”
Mr Collie said nominations for the party’s top five positions will remain open until the last night of the convention. He said he does not expect any “surprise nominations” but anything is possible.
So far, only Dr Minnis and Mrs Butler-Turner have announced that they are vying for leader, while Dr Duane Sands will challenge East Grand Bahama MP Peter Turnquest for his deputy leader post.
It has been speculated that former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham will return to front line politics and vie for leader of the party however, many within the FNM have dismissed the assertion as nothing but a rumour.
The theme for this year’s convention is “Because You Matter” and is scheduled for July 27-29 at the Melià Hotel.
Mr Collie said evening sessions begin at 8pm and are open to the public. The convention will also be carried live on Our TV, ZNS TV, ZNS Radio, Peace FM and Star FM. It will also be streamed live on Facebook.