January 23, 2014
Bahamas Christian Council (BCC) President Rev. Dr. Ranford Patterson said yesterday he told Prime Minister Perry Christie prior to last year's gambling referendum that he should make a decision on whether to regulate the web shop industry, instead of holding a vote.
"There was no need for him to come to the Bahamian people," said Patterson during a press conference.
"I told him to go ahead and do what he had to do. Do not put it on the backs of the Bahamian people. Don't blame us if it didn't work. Those were our words.
"If he had done the regulation, we would have still done what we had to do.
"The point was we didn't want this to be a thing that you say that the Bahamian people will give you the permission to do."
Christie admitted to The Nassau Guardian last week that he regrets holding the referendum and that he should have simply regulated the web shop industry upon coming to office.
He also hinted that the government may still regulate the industry.
Patterson said the BCC and the Save Our Bahamas committee will hold a service of thanksgiving and a call to action next Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. in Rawson Square on the anniversary of the vote.
"We stand by the vote on January 28, 2013 and believe that this was indeed a legal and democratic exercise which was commissioned and organized by the Government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, backed by the passing of legislation in the House of Assembly, signed by the governor general and executed by the parliamentary commissioner and his department," Patterson said.
"The people have spoken and the referendum regarding web shops is over.
"We would therefore again like to invite the Bahamian public to join us as we prepare to gather to give God praise and thanks for the victory at the polls one year ago."
He called on the government to uphold the results.
Patterson was joined by Grace Community Church Pastor Lyall Bethel, Bahamas Harvest Church Pastor Mario Moxey and members of the Vote No campaign, including Kevin Harris.
Patterson stressed that the church was not seeking to pick a fight with the prime minister.
On January 28, 2013, voters were asked whether they support the regularization and taxation of web shops, and whether they support the establishment of a national lottery.
The total number of votes cast against the web shop question was 51,146 or 62 percent of the votes cast versus 31,657 or 38 percent of the votes cast in favor of taxing web shops.
Less than 50 percent of registered voters voted.
According to the government, the referendum cost taxpayers $1.2 million.
"The challenge that we have right now is that ...if they refuse to adhere to the result of this referendum, what is it going to say to any other referendum that we may want to do later on?," Patterson asked.
"Why would I go to the polls to vote again? How do I know that my decision is going to be valid?"
Christie said the government intends to hold a constitutional referendum by the end of June.
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News date : 01/23/2014 Category : Nassau Guardian Stories