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PM hits back at Minnis over Govt House bill

Christie seeks clarification on Govt House billing policy
Guardian Staff Reporter

Published: Oct 17, 2013

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During a heated exchange in the House of Assembly last night, Prime Minister Perry Christie expressed displeasure over a letter that Opposition Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis wrote him concerning a bill the Free National Movement (FNM) was charged to host a reception at Government House.

Christie said that Minnis could not expect him to pay a $2,500 bill after he wrote the letter.

“You have to make a judgment as to when you want a result from a prime minister,” said Christie in the final minutes of his contribution to debate on the Correctional Services Bill.

“When you write me and you publish the letter before I receive it, you are not expecting me to help you pay no bill. I mean you obviously know when you wrote the letter.”

On Monday, Minnis told The Guardian that the FNM would not pay a bill it was charged for a reception at Government House last week.

The reception followed the appointment of Carl Bethel as the party’s new senator.

Minnis said the incident was a “slap in the face” to the party and democracy.

He said he was drafting a letter to Christie, the minister of finance, asking for an apology.

Christie said: “If you write me a letter saying that Government House caused your people to have to spend $2,500, the first thing you should do is understand what the policy of Government House is and to know that no member of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) sits down and makes a decision on who won’t get a party up there and who will get a party. We don’t do that.

“Furthermore, go and talk to Algernon Allen... when you were the minister in the government, when his wife was made president of the Court of Appeal, she wasn’t even a politician.

“He spent $4,000 of his own money.”

Christie said he asked Governor General Sir Arthur Foulkes what the policy is concerning the hosting of receptions.

“I said please write me, tell me what the policy is in writing and then tell me how I can change it so that we don’t have to have confusion,” he said.

“But I know you (Minnis) don’t expect me to pay no $2,500.”

According to a copy of an invoice from Government House given to the Free National Movement (FNM), the food charges totaled $1,022.46; rental charges totaled $500; beverage charges came up to $876.80 and per diem charges totaled $75.

In total, the charges came up to $2,474.26.

Christie noted that when the FNM complained about the issue, so did a group of Baptist leaders.

“The Baptists complained about it at the same time that he complained,” he said.

“So clearly, Mr. Speaker, it is a matter that we have to look at. I referred the Baptists to the minister of tourism (Obie Wilchcombe) saying that the minister of tourism may have a budget that could help them.

“If he (Minnis) had called me as the prime minister to say that they wanted to have this, most certainly for Carl Bethel, I would have done it, most certainly.

“There is no question about that.

“I would have been able to refer him to the minister of tourism and said to do that, no problem at all. If you can’t call me, let your deputy call me.”

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