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Nottage says Jan. vote cost $1.2 mil

$5 mil figure was ‘inadvertent’
  • Dr. Bernard J. Nottage. FILE

Guardian Senior Reporter

Published: Oct 08, 2013

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The gambling referendum held in January cost taxpayers just over $1.2 million, Minister of National Security Dr. Bernard Nottage said in a statement yesterday, adding that he mistakenly told reporters last week that the vote cost “around $5 million”.

“On Thursday October 3, when questioned about the cost of holding the national referendum on web shop gaming and a national lottery in January, I inadvertently gave the figure of $5 million,” the minister said.

“Almost immediately, I told the reporters . . .that I was uncertain about the actual amount. Nevertheless the figure was published in The Nassau Guardian in its Friday [October] 4th edition.

“I wish to point out that I am now in possession of the exact figure, which has been provided for me by the Parliamentary Registration Department.

“The actual figure spent was $1,238,092.95. I regret any misunderstanding that I may have created,” Nottage said.

Last week, he said, “I know that the referendum held in January cost us, around about $5 million, I think is the figure.”

Nottage’s $5 million estimate of the referendum’s cost elicited criticism from the Free National Movement (FNM) last week. The party called on the government to detail the expenditure.

Yesterday, Minnis called on Nottage or some other government MP to table a breakdown of costs associated with the vote to assure the public that the government is being transparent.

“For an issue that was as important as the referendum, that was a major event, both [Nottage who has responsibility for elections] and the prime minister [who has] responsibility for finance should have known how much was spent because that was a very important issue,” Minnis said.

“We look forward to Dr. Nottage or some member of the government tabling the expenditure for the referendum on Wednesday upon our return to Parliament, so that the opposition and the people can see the truth so there is no [disbelief] to what has been said earlier.”

Minnis said regardless of how much money was spent on the referendum, the Christie administration has placed a strain on public finances through the hiring of “consultants, retirees, pensioners, friends and excess travels all over the world”.

“[Bahamians] should not be surprised if this government returns to Parliament, if not soon, later requesting permission to borrow millions of dollars again,” he said.

On Sunday, Minnis called on Prime Minister Perry Christie to resign as minister of finance because of the perceived discrepancy between figures Christie and Nottage gave for the referendum’s cost.

In January, before the vote, Christie said the referendum would cost more than $1 million, though at the time he said he was unsure of what the exact cost would be.

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