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Campaign Money Bill

EDITOR, The Tribune.

The noose tightens and the country is nearer to a dictatorship than we realise.

The Prime Minister says that all decisions are taken to Cabinet, but still insists on being the “Competent Authority”. This, I assume, gives him the right, without consulting with Cabinet, license to make all sorts of decisions.

Has anyone checked lately on the mining in Andros? Has the Government given the proposed Andros mining project permission to go ahead with their plan, or have they successfully gotten the public’s eye off the ball by condoning the oil drilling?

And now election fever is in the air. The ground for the FNM is shaky. They must control the vote. So they’re presenting the country some honey that, in my view, is lined with poison.

They say it is too late to deliver on their campaign promise of limiting the position of PM to two terms. But apparently it is not too late to introduce and pass a “Campaign Money Bill”. Well, well, well. For some reason it seems the fish is stinking somewhere.

The Attorney General, Carl Bethell, claims that the FNM is going to craft legislation, and introduce to Parliament a Bill, which will, by law, force the disclosure of names of donors contributing to an individual or party, and adds that the names of the donors would still be kept private and would be forwarded to a “special commission”.

Sounds good, eh? Who would appoint the “special commission”? Donors kept private did you say?

That was the honey. Yes, it sounds sweet. Now here is the poison. Armed with the names of the donors in the hands of the “special commission” appointed by Government (in this case the FNM) does this suggest that anyone making a donation to the opposing party can be strong-armed, threatened with discrimination of his/her business or whatever?

Is the Government doing the country a favour? Or is this just tightening the noose?

There is already a Public Disclosure Bill. When I was in Parliament, if you were a week late presenting your Public Disclosure, you got a letter giving you a week before it was sent to the Speaker of the House who would take strict action against the member.

I understand that today, many members of the House can’t be bothered and don’t present disclosures.

There is a Public Accounts Committee, which is supposed to have oversight of the country’s money. The Leader of the Opposition is Head of that committee. They have the right to ask for information on how the country’s money is being spent, and the Government is obliged by law to hand the requested information over to the Committee.

I understand that the present Public Accounts Committee has repeatedly asked for information, which they are entitled to, and the FNM Government refuses to produce it.

Are we now supposed to trust them appointing a “special commission” to investigate or collect confidential financial information about a person making a donation to a Party or an individual?

Does this Government, or some members of it, really think that the Bahamian people are stupid?

PIERRE V L DUPUCH

January 12, 2021

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