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Former Minister Praises $1m Culture Consultant

Former Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe.

Former Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe.

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

THE person paid $1m for culture related consultancy services by the former government is Ian Poitier, a Bahamian engaged in the creative arts, former Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe told The Tribune Friday.

Mr Poitier was the first Bahamian to graduate from Oxford University with a law degree, Mr Wilchcombe said.

He has co-written and directed musical productions in the United Kingdom, and he has directed the Cacique Awards ceremony in the Bahamas for a number of years.

Without noting his identity, Tourism Minister Dionisio D'Aguilar said in the House of Assembly Thursday that he discovered that the consultant was paid over $400,000 a year, "more than the combined salary of over seven Cabinet ministers."

Mr D'Aguilar said the issue "smells fishy" and that he has ordered that no further payments be made to him.

Mr Wilchcombe yesterday countered that Mr D'Aguilar should talk quality, not just numbers. He said former Prime Minister Perry Christie personally sought out Mr Poitier and encouraged him to return to the Bahamas from the United Kingdom.

"When you think about the Bahamas, you must know in its efforts to develop itself and create presentations that would be impactful, you need someone of high calibre," he said. "The individual who was recruited from UK, an outstanding Bahamian who was brought home by the former prime minister to serve in cultural development, played a major role in a number of things we did over the past several years, including directing the Cacique awards. What the minister forgot to mention is the same individual had been hired by the previous administration to stage individual events. Our government decided to negotiate with him and see how best to have him involved in the development of our cultural identity and to have him help with events and we were satisfied with the work we did."

Looking simply at the "numbers" is the wrong approach to take when assessing payment to vendors, Mr Wilchcombe said, adding that Bahamians must also "look at quality."

Mr Poitier assisted the Bahamas with culture related presentations it made in Cuba, New York and elsewhere, he said, adding that he also assisted in the writing of national policies in various ways, including in relation to the National Development Plan."

"There are so many areas and things we were seeking to do," he said. "We need a national show that could be of the level which we see in Las Vegas or New York or Great Britain that we could present to the world with theatre dancers and artists we could put together with production. In a narrow perspective you could say maybe it was too much but a more broad perspective must be taken when you you taking someone away from what they do in the UK, directing major productions, and bringing him here. We have to appreciate this is a Bahamian with all the qualities who in my opinion was worth it. He worked between the prime minister's office and the Ministry of Tourism and was involved in all the major culture events in the Bahamas."

Mr Poitier could not be reached for comment before press time.

Comments

sheeprunner12 4 months ago

These lil sissy fellas really got greased by the old PLP faggots ............... BOL

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Well_mudda_take_sic 4 months ago

And when was this outrageous contact with Mr. Poiter (who apparently shares a certain life style in common with Fat Headed Wilchcombe) ever brought before parliament or to the attention of the Bahamian people by the previous Crooked Christie-led corrupt PLP government?! And what about that other very outrageous 'culture' consulting contract that Paul Major had?

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ThisIsOurs 4 months ago

Mr Poitier is very accomplished, it's disingenuous for D'Aguilar to attack him as if he has no clue of his qualifications when according to Hanna Martin, the FNM government also asked him to produce the cacique awards. I also find it strange that the heads at Tourism did not point that out to the minister. There's an easy way to determine if the salary was warranted, what was Mr Poitiers's salary outside the Bahamas? If it's comparable to what he received, then that's his asking price, it's up to the government to decide if they will pay what's he's asking for his expertise. If he weren't qualified to do the job I'd have a different opinion.

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JohnDoe 4 months ago

So it is ok to not pay the janitor that was hired but because he is "qualified" we can pay him. Whatever happened to cut, cut, cut spending to impress the rating agencies.

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ThisIsOurs 4 months ago

I am not justifying anything that "wasn't" done, what I find disingenuous in D'Aguilar, whom I like, but I'm finding to be a bit of a loose canon, questioning his ability when basic research would have shown him that his own party sought this man out BECAUSE of his ability.

I like people who know their craft, you could be the garbage man, if you could tell me the inner workings of the garbage truck and compacting and why you put this piece of garbage over here and what's the most efficient way to move barrels to the truck, I'm impressed.

I don't appreciate D'Aguilar putting a stain on the years of hard work Mr Poitier gave to the country.

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ThisIsOurs 4 months ago

For once we actually have someone with actual qualifications and a proven track record on contract, I hope they don't drive him away with politics.

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tell_it_like_it_is 4 months ago

I agree that the contract price tag seems quite high. Isn't that the yearly salary of the president of the United States? However, even though I don't know the fella personally, I think the vicious attacks on this blog are a bit much. I am of the christian faith, so I don't believe in certain lifestyles but this name calling here is just a bit childish.

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sheeprunner12 4 months ago

Sooooooo, are we going to justify Poitier's contract by saying what he could have gotten in England, Canada or the US?????? ............ Our civil service pay scales are not comparable to those other countries ......... a Bahamian public doctor or lawyer or teacher does not make the salary what those countries pay .............. A US school principal may make $150,000 ...... While our Director of Education makes $70,000??????? ............... So, because Lebron can make $40 million a year, we believe that we must pay these outrageous contracts as well?????? ............... Stop being delusional please

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ThisIsOurs 4 months ago

No, we are going to say, it was the GOVERNMENT'S decision to pay what he asked for. I am not going to denigrate his skills or his ability. He directed the cacique awards for years, he was responsible for the PLP convention that blew everyone away, he's directed numerous plays, I "believe" he had something to do with the organization of carnival, he had a hand in the independence celebrations for a number of years. In my mind this is a VERY talented individual and not just by our standards, he's had similar roles working on a prestigious programme for the British government, and even more impressive, THAT government also sought him out BECAUSE of his ability. The first time I heard about him was on a radio interview and I was blown away by his resume.

I break it down to personal experience, I once worked on a job where I thought I was doing a fairly good job, I found out that a person who was doing less work than me was getting paid more than me and I was naturally upset. A wise person told me, "that's what YOU negotiated".

If they had contracted Lenny Kravitz they may have paid him 3 million. I'm not justifying the amount, I'm saying that's what he valued his skills at, if the government thought it was too much they were free to tell him no thank you.

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ThisIsOurs 4 months ago

And you're looking at the contract in the wrong way, consultants DEMAND a price. On the other hand the government has an established range based on their budget. If the budget dictates that the consultants price is too high, you find someone else. D'Aguilar needs to talk about the governments bad decision to enter a contract for such a high price, and stop questioning Mr Poitier's ability. In fact go ask his people about the work Mr Poitier do for them, then talk.

There was also a revelation that KPMG got some 8 million in contracts, but I understand under the FNM KPMG got 12 million in contracts, it's this kind of non-researched double talk that just annoys me.

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JohnDoe 4 months ago

And therein lies the slippery slope because presumably both would have had valid contracts and Lunch Lady Reckley may have been able to put down a killer curry mutton.

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ThisIsOurs 4 months ago

If Lunch Lady Reckley were hired to cook mutton and not head urban renewal you might have a valid point.

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JohnDoe 4 months ago

Did not know lunch lady Reckley was an actual person. I was actually using her as a metaphor.

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ThisIsOurs 4 months ago

LOL, yes real person and she was a "lunch lady" at a local school, they appointed her as head of urban renewal in Grand Bahama. She caused untold havoc up there according to reports. When questioned about her qualifications Bradley Roberts said ~"yes she's a cook, and a very good one"

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ohdrap4 4 months ago

search the tribune archive for 'the plp iron lady' and editorial from march this year.

the lunch lady is legendary.

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sheeprunner12 4 months ago

This is Ours ......... You cut your suit to fit your cloth .......... The PLP loves glitter and glamour (as 80% of other Bahamians) ....... But, should we focus on glitzy Carnival and Independence parades while the social and economic state of the country is going to SHIT?????? ........ and I hope that the PLP paid Poitier from their account for the PLP convention ........ smdh

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ThisIsOurs 4 months ago

I'm not going into whether carnival was the right or wrong thing to do or whether we should have had independence celebrations. All I'm saying is the government hired Mr Poitier to do a job for which he was supremely qualified. Don't stand up in parliament and question his qualifications, especially when the FNM used him as well BECAUSE of his qualification.. Keep the argument to the DECISION to spend that much money.

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sheeprunner12 4 months ago

I will bet you a conch salad that Poitier will get another gig with this FNM government ....... and it will not cost us $33,000 per month ...... Get real, man!!!!!!!!!

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ThisIsOurs 4 months ago

I bet you he'll get a contract where he decides he wants to be for what he wants, because he has the qualifications. If it local, then that's where he wants to be. He can go anywhere in the world and demand a good salary.

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banker 4 months ago

I know a playwright, who herself has starred on Broadway in Elton John's musical. She is a Shakespearean actor as well, performed in England and the US and produced major off-Broadway productions. She struggles to make $100,000 a year, and if I mention her name, you could Google it and she has better bona fides than the person in question here.

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ThisIsOurs 4 months ago

Sounds reasonable, but my point is its all about negotiation, if she comes to the table thinking she can't get more than 100,000 and someone offers her 90,000 and she accepts it, that's her price. If he asks for 400,000 and they say no and he walks away then he's set the standard below which he won't go.

Of course I'm assuming that this is his going rate. I concede that I don't think the government made a wise decision with spending that much given our current economic condition. Also I heard he WAS actually offered another position sometime back and a very good one. Opportunity breaks are never cut and dry, sometimes it's dumb luck.

I cited an example from personal experience where a coworker couldn't do crap, in fact they would ask me to help them with their work, but I found out later that they got paid more than me. Was it fair, I certainly didn't think so:) but that's what happened. Sometimes it's about networks too, what they would pay them they'd never pay me, the people in business know that (for a wide range of reasons )

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jackbnimble 4 months ago

Why does everyone keep saying CONTRACT. He didn't have one! He admitted it in his book - sorry - press release.

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TalRussell 4 months ago

Comrades! The person(s) who authorized the payment of $1million for culture related consultancy services by the former government to Ian Poitier - were a government official(s) engaged in the creative arts of being of unsound mind and should be immediately committed for an extended stay up at the Sandilands Medial Ward for the Severally Mentally Challenged.... And, in this particular $1 million case - the committal paper works it should include both Obadiah and the former prime minister.. Society must be forever protected from such severally mentally challenged former government officials. Even if you just attempt to justify the $1 million payment - you too should be Sandilands confined for at least a 2-year rehabilitation say until the doctor certifies that your head has bettered itself.
Amen!

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ThisIsOurs 4 months ago

There that's the correct argument, the DECISION to enter the contract is the issue, not Mr Poitiers qualifications.

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sheeprunner12 4 months ago

When you think about the Bahamas, you must know in its efforts to develop itself and create presentations that would be impactful, you need someone of high calibre," he said. "The individual who was recruited from UK, an outstanding Bahamian who was brought home by the former prime minister to serve in cultural development, played a major role in a number of things we did over the past several years, including directing the Cacique awards

Meanwhile, there is an entire Department of Culture with a slew of professionals and civil servants who must sit by and watch ONE "driftwood lover" get a $1million contract to do what they are mandated by the Cabinet to do .......... Perry & Obie did us wrong in so many ways

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ThisIsOurs 4 months ago

I'm sure many of them will tell you they can do just what Mr Poitier did, the truth is they can't. They may be able to do "a" job, but possibly not of the same quality. If they had his resume or production experience they would have gotten the job. He is a producer (international shows) , a choreographer and a project manager, he also knows how to manage talent. He's a very skilled individual

It's like me going to Mrs Carron and asking her fir the job of Tribune editor. I can read and write after all...

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ohdrap4 4 months ago

I'm sure many of them will tell you they can do just what Mr Poitier did, the truth is they can't. They may be able to do "a" job, but possibly not of the same quality.

Here is the difference. If and when these employees request let's say, 30,000.00 equipment and supplies to produce an event, they have to present purchase orders and fit in their budget. The money does not come and they put together an event with their own or borrowed equipment and the event looks like crap.

Not the contractor, he orders the things and the invoices might turn into a surprise for the next government.

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sheeprunner12 4 months ago

It is people like YOU who have destroyed the morale, initiative and creativity of many deserving qualified civil servants ......... YOU and those crooked politicians who are more interested in taking care of their "friends, families and lovers" ...... I guess YOU are one of them (FFNL)

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ThisIsOurs 4 months ago

ROTFL and LOL cause dat too funny:)

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sealice 4 months ago

Why in the HELL do we need to hire a Bahamian Culture Consultant??? What happened the Perry Shuffle wasn't woikin no mo??

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ThisIsOurs 4 months ago

We probably didn't "need" one. We didn't need a baseball stadium and we didn't need a beach soccer stadium. The decision making process is questionable

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proudloudandfnm 4 months ago

What the hell did this Poitier fellow do?!?

Was Carnivale his idea?

Was it his idea to hire Canadians to run stronger Bahamas?

What did we get for our million??

I hope this government audits every PLP cabinet minister's personal finances. They were obviously getting huge kick backs...

Time we imprisoned some cabinet ministers...

Start with Perry and Halkitis. They wrote the damned checks...

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concernedcitizen 4 months ago

Does anyone really believe the whole million was his ,he was a funnel ,he probably had a govt credit card that he lived and traveled on ,This is just another way of getting money out of our treasury into the chosen PLP,s hands .All their foreign consultants contracts w/ shady operators were just away for them to get money abroad ,,1/2 a million for the consultants ..1/2 a mill for them

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jackbnimble 4 months ago

I agree. Someone was getting a kickback!

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TalRussell 4 months ago

Comrades! Likes it always done since creation - Time will have marched onward and soon it will be 5-years out from the May 10, 2017 General Election....... And, the same Red Shirts will be engaging an whole new set of million dollars auditors and consultants and giving the peoples crown lands and other Free stuffs out to those they deemed be most politically red deserving. It's all Bullshi#.....Only this time the real colonists are once again in charge public treasury. Time load the cannon balls and powder up the old Forts cannons.

......///////https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50_iRIcxsz0

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sheeprunner12 4 months ago

At least some of the above comments here make sense ........ ThisisOurs, please read them

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ThisIsOurs 4 months ago

Ah I took your advice! please reread my comments to understand what I'm saying

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Economist 4 months ago

So what did he do for all this money. Can someone point to 5 or 10 million dollars of income as a result of us hiring him?

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banker 4 months ago

Co-sign. I would be content to see a body of work. What have we gotten for the money? In a normal business transaction, you pay people for what they produce. He hasn't produced anything. It doesn't matter if he were the queen of England, if he didn't use his talents to create something, then send him packing.

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TalRussell 4 months ago

Comrades! The very fact that we're here on this hereto Tribune blog page along with the minister of tourism Dionisio who is pretending to sound like seasonably sane - whilst debating whether it's at all possible if taxpayers really need a $400,000 a year cultural consultant on the public purses payroll - is about as equally as looney tunes upstairs as Obadiah's attempt to spin-off the hiring craziness over to the former prime minister. If so, we all need voluntarily offer to ride the crazy peoples bus up to Sandilands Hospital to self-check we selves into the ward for observation of the seriously mentally challenged.

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killemwitdakno 4 months ago

The culture related presentations we saw in Cuba was a aerobics dance group of 4 dancing in a ground one night. Then a Junkanoo crew flown in for their paradevehich is done elsewhere atvwhat cost?

The New York affair itself might have even been less than $1M.

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killemwitdakno 4 months ago

Let's see the consultations fees please.

Has this guy ever made this amount contracted on any other project?

Listen fool, you put this guy in America's top 1% for giving how many days?

Yes , only 1% of America makes over $200k annually. Quit getting swing and GET A CONSULTANT FOR COSTS.

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ThisIsOurs 4 months ago

This is exactly my point. Contracts are negotiated, someone demands a price and the other party agrees to pay. If this is the going price for his projects then that his price. It's the government's duty to safeguard our money and get value for dollars.

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banker 4 months ago

It is indefensible to pay a "culture" consultant over a million dollars when some folks still use outdoor privies in Nassau. It is indefensible to pay that when NIB pension are underfunded by over a billion dollars. It is indefensible for Obie to pay that public money out to a person that he "admires".

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ThisIsOurs 4 months ago

It wasn't a good decision, neither was carnival, the baseball stadium, the softball stadium, gaming, urban renewal etc etc. the government was lousy at decision making. I hope the 34 FNM ministers are listening to the uproar and they don't have any fancy plans to sell contracts, enter into overpriced contracts or contract unqualified vendors. For full transparency, I would really like to know how much the FNM paid him for similar services.

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Socrates 4 months ago

comments like these from arguably the biggest non-performing Minister of Tourism in the history of the independent Bahamas, help to explain why so much money is spent by MOT while visitor numbers remain flat and our neighbours flourish....

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screwedbahamian 4 months ago

Now we see why the people of the world who have not visited the Bahamas is of the belief that all Bahamians are wealthy. We have plenty of white sandy Beaches, beautiful lands and Lots of sunshine, and when our government is not spending the peoples tax payments monies (like drunken sailors in a strip club) in foreign lands to enhance their individual status, its giving most of the Bahamian assets away to foreigners at home to enhance their individual status. It a crying shame, when some Bahamians currently have to utilize outside toilets and burn kerosene lamps and eat what ever if left while a Tourist Cultural Consultant is paid this kind of fees to produce likes of Bahamas Carnival where it costing the people $9 Million a year and no verified or certified income.

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RFD1 4 months ago

Notwithstanding that Mr Poitier may be qualified and may have been handsomely paid for his work in the UK; I opine that he should have enough love of country to be able to take a significantly smaller salary (if the alleged $400,000 salary is true) I could stomach $50000 to $$60000 p,a, The country is in dire straits so I find it foul, egregious and obscene t o pay this amount to one person. I'm sure he has underlings and assistants whose salaries are nowhere near this.

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ThisIsOurs 4 months ago

In a statement in today's newspaper, Mr Poitier is clarifying that the 400,000 included payments for other vendors. Why didn't D'Aguilar mention that before launching into his irresponsible diatribe??? For what reason did he give the country the impression that this entire amount was Mr Poitiers salary? In a very telling piece Mr Poitier called on the FORMER GOVERNMENT to give clarification of his role. As I suspected, d'Aguilar is a loose canon, no effort at any research, same thing he did with the statement on the NAD board, making people believe he fired the board when the board had already resigned and was ASKED to stay on until further notice. He makes these outrageous easily disproven statements for dramatic effect in the moment. Please stop it. Also notice his VERY GUARDED responses on the Fyre Festival where malfeasance was MORE than evident. Did he remove the lady who used her position to land a 1 million dollar catering contract?

Please stop the theatrics, the campaign is OVER. We need leaders

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ThisIsOurs 4 months ago

Of course I don't know who the vendors are. And You're correct, he did say there was no contract, he also said THATS NOT MY FAULT. And that's been my point all along, Daguilar should have directed the problem where it rightly belongs "the administration".

As to oldest form of tiefin, Mr Poitier has promised additional info, lets wait for that before adding to the litany of bad names we call him.

Daguilar seems to be establishing a track record of using parliament to lay out easily refuted damaging partial information. I notice that Duane Sands also had some troubling details to lay out, but he did it in a responsible manner. Daguilar made it seem like this man was sitting in a corner office on fb all day getting paid 400,000. And it's so far from the truth. Fitzgerald will seem like child's play if he continues at this rate.

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jackbnimble 4 months ago

How is it not his fault that he didn't have a written contract?? He lists his qualifications as being a trained attorney. I think that's law 101, aye? You cover your azz!

You seem to be caught up with D'Aguilar exposing the contract - albeit recklessly. I'm caught up with the fact that Poitier was being paid for consultancy services without a written contract detailing what those services were. Just his word in a press statement that reads like an inflated resume.

This is not the PLP's first rodeo show. You're going to tell me that the Minister of Tourism and the Prime Minister - senior Ministers of the Government - would offer to pay for consultancy services using a huge hunk of taxpayers' dollars and not have a contract to say what those services were or what the grounds were for terminating the contract if the consultant screwed up? Sounds kinda fishy to me - and I'm just a taxpayer.

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ThisIsOurs 4 months ago

Hey they spent 20 million on BAMSI with no all risk insurance....they paid wisdom 400,000 to put granny panties on trees, they were horrible irresponsible administrators.

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CatIslandBoy 4 months ago

I must concede that the Minister of Tourism, while contributing to the Budget debate, showed a deeply concerning disregard for the complete facts, and was attempting to impress the other cabinet members and the Prime Minister. It is beginning to appear that he might not have been the right choice for the cabinet position. At the very least, he owes Mr. Poitier, Mr. McKinney, and the NAD Board a publicly apology. I doubt we'll ever see that.

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Alex_Charles 4 months ago

Qualified or not. We fucked up for 5 years by MASSIVE over spending. This story surely doesn't look good/ I expect no better from this government.

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sheeprunner12 4 months ago

Is ThisisOurs ............ Ian Poitier?????? ........ or his cousin, lawyer, lover or fan????? .......... Why are you so hell-bent on defending this egregious rip-off of the Treasury by Perry & Obie?????? ........ Stop It!!!!!!

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Reality_Check 4 months ago

So Fat Head Obie thinks this fella Ian Poitier is the greatest thing since sliced bread just because he claims to be the first Bahamian to have graduated from Oxford with a law degree. Now that's a real joke if ever I heard one! Let's just think for a brief moment how truly dumb, deceitful and conniving this Ian Poitier must really be. Poitier acknowledges having received large sums of money from the Bahamian government (i.e. from us, the people, as taxpayers) without a signed contract of any kind, purportedly for having rendered valuable services to the Bahamian people. No normal right thinking smart and honest person would ever have done this against the backdrop of the many well publicized allegations of massive corruption made against the Christie-led PLP government throughout its five-year term. Poitier smugly and contemptuously now suggests he had every right to take the very large sums of money paid to him because it was the PLP government's fault (specifically the fault of Obie as then Minister of Tourism and Christie as then Minister of Finance) that no contract was ever properly approved and put in place. Clearly Poitier, with the Oxford law degree he claims to have earned, is not smart enough to appreciate that honest and decent people do not do what he has done......Poitier's actions alone in this matter make him no different than most of the low life thugs (like Sebas Bastian) that Fat Head Obie and Crooked Christie have had many corrupt dealings with at the expense of honest hardworking Bahamian taxpayers. Frankly Ian Poitier is a disgrace to Oxford and that venerable institution of higher learning should strip him of whatever degree(s) they may have awarded him.

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sheeprunner12 4 months ago

Excellent observation ......... Were Perry & Obie that daft or is there a deeper plan to defraud the Bahamian Treasury??????? ..... This fella really think we are stupid!!!!! ........... Is this what they go to school in England for????

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