The ‘$5 Million Gaming Poll’ Show & The Question That Remains

Monday 07th, October 2013 / 07:48 Published by

If the media and the Opposition had checked to confirm Elections Minister BJ Nottage’s recent statement that the January Gaming Poll cost $5 million before extensive reporting and announcing a Party position respectively – what happened  with the Minister changing the figure he gave, would not have been able to happen.

And what should also now be checked is whether or not the “I think it’s $5 million” figure he gave last week represented one of two things:

#1 – a combination of the actual public service cost to hold the Gaming Poll plus other payments/payouts connected to that Poll or

#2 – monies spent in payments/payouts outside of the actual cost. In other words, was the “I think it’s $5 million” figure merely a mistake, or is there much more to it?

Last week Minister Nottage told the media on camera that “he thinks” the Gaming Poll cost about $5 million. The Prime Minister had said it would cost approximately $1 million. Today, Minister Nottage “corrected” his statement, and said that upon checking with Parliamentary Registration the figure is actually only $1.2 million ($1,238,092.95 to be exact).

Now here are the two big issues in this:

#1 – when BJ Nottage gave that $5 million figure, both the media and the Opposition ought to have checked with Parliamentary Registration right there and then on what he said – if only due to the major discrepancy between his figure and the Prime Minister’s figure.

But the problem is this – that is not how we do reporting and responses in this country. Whatever falls out of a politician’s mouth, the media and others simply run with it without checking the veracity and/or accuracy of what has been said.

#2 – Both the media and the Opposition will likely say BJ Nottage is playing a game with them by changing the figure. Here’s the thing – if he is playing a game, had both the media and Opposition done their job and checked to confirm his statement – he would not have been able to play such a game. Check what they exclaim to prevent a game. Had both the media and Opposition checked, they would have had the $1.2 million public service figure before Minister Nottage could change or correct what he said.

I, as a writer, intentionally held off on initially commenting about BJ Nottage’s “I think it’s $5 million” statement, and I did so to check some things out first as his statement raised certain suspicions. I received confirmation of some things and was writing this article today when I heard the Minister had changed the figure.

A general election – the major national poll of The Bahamas- only costs a maximum of about $1.5 million to hold. Parliamentary Registration can confirm this. Any extra money would be for overtime paid to Parliamentary Registration to prepare a new Register. Since the January Gaming Poll was held using the current Register and not a new one Parliamentary Registration had to create, overtime costs to create a new Register would not arise.

This information added confirmation to my suspicions that the January Gaming Poll by itself could not have cost $5 million to hold.

So the question that remains is this – did Minister BJ Nottage simply misspeak when he gave that figure five-times above what the poll would actually cost, or does that figure represent more than just the $1.2 million Parliamentary Registration says was spent to hold the shambolic January Gaming Poll?

If the government truly only spent $1.2 million and nothing more – where did Minister Nottage get the $5 million figure from? How do you mix up 1.2 for 5? That’s quite a big so-called “mix-up”, wouldn’t you say?

Sharon Turner


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