PLP leader Philip Davis. (File photo)
By EARYEL BOWLEG
PLP leader Philip "Brave" Davis said yesterday that Minister of Works Desmond Bannister should "put up or shut up" as he called the minister's claims of the Christie administration trying to buy the 2017 election as "disingenuous and dishonest".
Mr Bannister alleged that the administration was shelling out contracts and jobs the day before the last election. However, Mr Davis told reporters on Monday that the records of the ministry's files show that most, if not all, of the contracts had been in talks for a while.
"It is not what he gives as an impression that somehow the government just before the election devised these projects and then issued them at that time," Mr Davis, former minister of works, said. "These are projects that had been in train for years and then culminated. It's just that it took that time to get it to a signing position and he's aware of it and to suggest that the election is being bought by the signing of these contracts is disingenuous and dishonest.
"He has not in any way connected the signing of the contract with the winning of the election anyway. What evidence does he have to support the contention that the award of contracts or the signing at that time was for the purpose of buying an election? It's a despicable assertion."
In a press statement, he further accused Mr Bannister of misleading the public.
"It's dishonest for the FNM (Free National Movement) to criticise a practice for which they are the chief culprits. but they have no shame," he said. "It is cheap and dishonest to use the media to throw political shade; I publicly challenge Mr Bannister to put his money where his mouth is. Put up or shut up, Mr Bannister.
"Mr Bannister is clearly seeking to deflect from the incompetence and ineffectiveness of the FNM administration. More than two years in office, they have nothing to show so it's blame the PLP (Progressive Liberal Party) time. We have heard this song many times before; it is a scorched record."
He suggested the minister should use his authority and the FNM's majority in Parliament to bring legislation to the House of Assembly to stop government contract spending and hiring in an election year.
However, he said, this would not happen under an FNM government because Mr Bannister nor the government believes "one single word" of the minister's political rhetoric.
Mr Bannister told Tribune Business that "tens of millions of dollars" in contracts and jobs were given, including a $17.415 million post office deal ahead of the last election.
"There was one (for the post office), one in Grand Bahama for the administrative building (in Eight Mile Rock), the roads in Andros."
He also said: "You have to think the worst about people who do that in terms of intending to purchase an election. We've honoured all those contracts. It required us to make commitments that we may not have necessarily thought were in the best interests of the Bahamian people."
However, the government did not follow through with the PLP's proposed plan for the General Post Office relocation.