The prime minister of the Bahamas has been stating since last year that the government has no horse in the race as it relates to the gambling referendum. Many Bahamians were skeptical of this view but the economic state of the country and some of Prime Minister Christie’s actions have proved otherwise.
Mr. Christie, please consider the following items.
(1) The Bahamas was downgraded in December of 2012 by Standard’s and Poor’s (S&P), who says our economic outlook, is now negative. This was our fourth economic downgrade since 2008. Our debt service is now on par with the annual education budget and it is increasing.
(2) Unemployment is still over 14% nationwide.
(3) The Bahamas Development Bank has suspended small business loans until further notice.
(4) Michael Halkitis has suggested that the government may need to borrow an additional 100 - 200 million dollars to cover this current budget’s shortfall.
(5) You yourself sir said that if Bahamians vote no, unemployment would be in increased and the burden on our Social Services would be more stretched. You said that the government would have to see if it could find ways to employ persons now working for web shops.
(6) Much needed revenue would be at the government’s disposal if the Bahamian people vote yes in the upcoming referendum.
In your most recent interview sir you said that the referendum is non-binding. I believe that you sir and the Vote Yes campaign realize that it is patently clear that Bahamians will vote no. You have now realized that a lot of people who gamble in this country will not vote yes because of this botched process or can’t vote yes because of their legal status. It is desperation time now.
I would conclude and agree with you sir that indeed you don’t have a horse in the race on the gambling referendum. I submit that you have a herd of horses in this race and you took a calculated step to take this vote to the Bahamian people, but it has blown up in your face. I believe that you should have made the government’s position clear as opposed to issuing confusing policy statements to the electorate. Your tactics have backfired and this flawed process will cost you thousands of yes votes. Additionally, many Bahamians who gamble will not vote because they see it as a mute exercise. They don’t believe that any government has the will to make a concerted effort to stop gambling in web shops.
If the electorate votes no, are you seriously going to see to it that the law is enforced? You will definitely need a strong horse to do that.