Free National Movement (FNM) Chairman Sidney Collie yesterday accused the Christie administration of using taxpayer money to fund the Progressive Liberal Party’s (PLP) election campaign, pointing to a Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute (BAMSI) ad that appeared in several local newspapers.
“Five years ago they pledged to change The Bahamas, but the only thing they have done is short-changed the Bahamian people at every turn,” Collie said.
“And like an old habit they continue to use tax dollars this government collects for their own political agenda.
“Several times this week Bahamians have all seen the BAMSI ad in several of the newspapers with the PLP logo prominently fixed on it.
“This is clearly a violation of the public trust from an administration that has made corruption into an art form.
“Is there nothing they won’t do to keep their grip on power?”
The ad features a woman placing stickers on bananas supposedly produced by BAMSI. There is a large PLP banner at the bottom.
PLP Bradley Roberts did not respond to a for comment up to press time.
A sponsored ad for BAMSI has also been circulated frequently in recent weeks on social media.
The Andros project has been touted as one of the Christie administration’s major accomplishments.
It has experienced several delays, a protracted construction period, reported arson at one of its buildings two years ago and widespread criticism over its management.
As of October 2014, the investment in the Andros facility had reached $23 million, according to Prime Minister Perry Christie.
Collie added yesterday, “Since coming to office and imposing their onerous VAT (value-added tax) – the largest tax increase in the history of our country – they have treated our tax dollars as if it were their own personal slush fund.
“Lavish government contracts they control handed out to friends and donors.
“…Secret deals and giveaways to their Chinese allies.
“And now forcing the taxpayers to foot the bill for the PLP campaign efforts.
“Every time we think the PLP can’t be more obvious in [its] corruption, they prove us wrong and sink to new levels.
“The people demand that the PLP government stop using taxpayer dollars for [its] political ads and immediately repay the Bahamian people.”
In July 2012, during a parliamentary conclave hosted at the British Colonial Hilton, Christie committed to campaign finance reform talks.
“The country has to decide, opposition and governing people here, we have to decide whether or not we are prepared to put in place regulations that will govern the conduct of elections and persons who are contesting those elections with respect to the monies being spent,” the prime minister said.
“We have to be honest with ourselves here, brutally honest with ourselves in the recognition that practices have evolved in The Bahamas over the last 10 years, 15 years that are repugnant to best practices in a democracy.
“Do we have the will to address what we know to exist in the best interest of this democracy?”
His statements came a day after he told the House of Assembly that two international groups which monitored the May general election called for government to create laws that would limit campaign spending.
No such laws have been created to date.