Gov’t. Fails To Reveal Consultant Costs

Minister of National Security Dr. Bernard Nottage recently tabled the breakdown of costs associated with the January 28, 2013 gambling referendum, but brushed off a request by Free National Movement (FNM) Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis that the government table the costs of payments to consultants it hired ahead of that poll.

“There were no consultants of which I am aware, not hired by my ministry or the Parliamentary Registration Department for the referendum,” said Nottage in response to Minnis.

“That did not happen. Nobody has questioned me about that now, but this is politics…but we are not in that game. We are about governing the country.”
The government engaged the foreign consultants to advise it on gambling before taking the issue to a referendum.

The document tabled by Nottage, shows that the January referendum cost $155,007.05 less than the projected $1,393,100 that the treasurer approved for the process.

The document from the Parliamentary Registration Department, which was stamped on September 11, 2013, shows that the referendum on web shop gaming and a national lottery cost the government $1,238,092.95.

This confirms the figure that Nottage gave on Monday regarding the referendum cost. 
The referendum’s largest expenditures were: $586,600 for payment to electoral officials in New Providence; $254,246.98 for the “transfer of funds to Family Island administrators” and $123,060 for the transfer of funds to Freeport.

Other items were a $27,354 expenditure for “computer paper for printing registers,” $42,030 for an estimated payment to the Royal Bahamas Police Force; $18,400 for a charter bus to transport ballot boxes and $18,630 to charter the ballot boxes by plane.

The document notes that $42,012.97 was spent on the overseas advanced poll with $23,385.97 of that figure spent on “subsistence, accommodation, transportation and incidentals and $18,627 on plane tickets.”

Last week, Nottage told reporters that the referendum cost “around $5 million.”
That figure drew criticism from the Free National Movement (FNM) and the party called on the government to account for the expense.

On Monday, Nottage released a statement, saying he “inadvertently” released the wrong figure for the referendum.

He corrected himself and said the actual cost was $1,238,092.95.

Nottage said he was driven to table the document outlining the costs after Leader of the Opposition Dr. Hubert Minnis said he did not believe that the minister made a mistake when he said the vote cost $5 million.

“I promised to do this and I need to do it because the leader of the opposition said that he didn’t believe it when I gave the corrected figure for the cost of the holding of the referendum,” Nottage told the House.

“And I guard my integrity very closely, Mr. Speaker, I’ve been in and out of Parliament since 1987, Mr. Speaker, and like George Washington (would) say, I never told a lie in Parliament.”

Other costs include:

$34,000 for the transfer of funds to Marsh Harbour, Abaco.

$31,831 for the transfer of funds to oversees missions/embassies.

$10,268 for hosting of a workshop for Family Island administrators.

$3,010 for subsistence to administrators attending workshop.

$950 for a rental hall for election officials’ meetings.

$19,510 for ballot paper.

$8,606 for publication of election notices.

$1,525 for rental of Kendal Isaacs Gym for advanced poll .

$430 for rental of tables and chairs for advanced poll.

$1,279 for shipment of election supplies.

$1,750 for transporting ballot boxes to Family Islands.

$8,985 for binders for registers.

$700 for breakfast for election officials.

$2,915 for miscellaneous supplies (tea supplies, badges, labels, stamps, paint and wrapping paper).

By: Taneka Thompson