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Call for further transparency on gambling consultants

Gaming Bill debate begins next month
Guardian Staff Reporter

Published: Oct 25, 2013

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After the prime minister this week revealed the cost of the gaming consultants engaged by the government ahead of the gambling referendum, Free National Movement (FNM) Chairman Darron Cash said yesterday that the government now needs to table the advice given by the consultants.

“The prime minister has only halfway delivered what he has obliged to deliver,” he said. “He must present the report. Whether it was a report, a memo, a spreadsheet, crib notes, whatever it is, the Bahamian people are obliged to receive it so they can make a judgement on whether they really got value for money.”

Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe said the fees of foreign consultants was “money well spent”.

Last November, Christie said the UK-based consultants that advised the government on gambling did not provide him with a formal report and therefore one would not be made public.

Christie previously told The Nassau Guardian that the UK consultants presented a “report” to him, but he said he had to review it before he could reveal their advice.

In the House of Assembly on Wednesday, Christie said the government engaged U.K. consultants Dixon, Wilson and Co. at a cost of £52,073 ($84,207.25).

He said the government engaged consultants from South African firm A and G Consulting, at a cost of $267,681.

However, according to Christie, local casino operators contributed $100,000 towards the South African consultant’s bill.

That means the government paid $251,888.25 to the foreign gaming consultants, when using yesterday’s exchange rate. The exchange rate on the English pound has not shifted significantly in the past year.

Cash said it was regrettable that Christie had to ”be brought to that announcement kicking and screaming”.

Christie said Wilchcombe will provide the exact break down of the costs when debate on the Gaming Bill begins next month.

The gambling referendum held in January cost taxpayers just over $1,238,092.

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