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FNM should not have to pay for ceremony

Published: Oct 16, 2013

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Senators and members of Parliament are legislators – part of the Government of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas.  They are appointed via the laws of the country and have important jobs to do.

A bizarre and petty dispute has hit the papers.  Carl Bethel was sworn in as a senator last week.  There was a ceremony at Government House to commemorate the event – as is usual.  Then news came that the Free National Movement (FNM), Bethel’s party, the opposition party, was being asked to pay for the event.  In total, the charges came up to $2,474.26.

Free National Movement (FNM) Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis, who is also the leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, has said the FNM will not pay the bill.

“It was a state event,” he said.  “We are constitutionally entitled to so many senators and their being sworn in.  That is a tradition.

“Now the government has sent us a communication insisting that we must pay for such a function when individuals would have come there to wish the new senator well in his defense of democracy.

“We feel that that is a new form of victimization against the entire party machinery.”

Government House should have a budget for public events.  It is early in the fiscal year.  It would be shocking if that budget has already been exhausted.  Regardless of what pettiness occurred in the past, in 2013 both political parties should be of the maturity level that the government of this country covers such events within reason, as they pertain to affairs of state.  These are simple events that are not costly.

At times our public officials slip in maturity.  When then Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham, in anger at opposition heckling, ended the last Parliament without letting departing members say their final words in the chamber, that was a mistake.  Similarly, when Ingraham came to the House of Assembly for his last day in the current Parliament and he was frustrated from speaking in a dignified manner – causing him to walk out – that too was a mistake.

The graces and traditions of state should transcend personal feelings.  They should transcend the whims of men.  We are sure there is $2,474.26 in some budget of some ministry of the Government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.  That bill for Bethel’s ceremony should be absorbed by the state and this simple issue should not be a point of contention between the two major parties that is debated for public consumption in the press.

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