Opposition bemoans govt’s decision to restrict gaming sector, and churches full opening
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Opposition Leader Philip Brave Davis last night bemoaned Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis’ announcement that gaming houses are still prohibited from opening during the state of emergency, noting that the government did not exclude gaming when it allowed businesses able to offer curb-side service and deliveries to reopen.
Several gaming houses opened its location to customers throughout New Providence last week, placing remote stations for use on the outside of gaming establishments which were attended by staff.
“Unfortunately, transparency, competence and compassion have been in short supply when we look at the response of our own government here at home,” Davis said during a COVID-19 briefing at PLP headquarters on Farrington Road.
“Instead we’ve seen arbitrary decisions about which businesses can open and which have to stay closed or perhaps, worse than arbitrary, as businesses with ties to the government or whose locations are in wealthy neighborhoods seem to get preferential treatment.
“They need a better and more transparent way to make decisions.
“How can they tell us on one day that businesses that can take the proper health precautions, including curbside delivery, can open and on the next day, close an entire industry meeting those standards, sending more than 3,000 workers home?
“They need to move quickly to work with representatives of different industries – how can businesses plan in this atmosphere of confusion? This is a national crisis that demands a competent national response.”
In a national address on Sunday, the prime minister said the latest emergency order sets out the terms and conditions and codifies which additional businesses or establishments have been allowed to reopen for home delivery and curbside pickup.
In response, Island Luck CEO Sebas Bastian said the prime minister’s remarks appeared to personally target the gaming sector.
He called on the government to make its economic reopening plan clear and inclusive, while pointing out that the sector employs 3,500 people.
Island Luck gained approval from the National Insurance Board to pay unemployment benefits directly to all eligible employees on NIB’s behalf, while the sector was closed.
The company covered the balance of any shortfall not covered NIB unemployment benefits for its employees.
As part of the increased commercial activity in ‘Phase 1B’, establishments selling alcohol for example have been allowed to reopen — a point of heavy contention among leaders of churches, which will not be permitted to fully reopen until ‘Phase 3’.
In his Sunday statement, Davis said not allowing people to return to their place of worships “adds insult to injury”.
The PLP leader also questioned why Arawak Cay, Potter’s Cay and vendors who operate around the Montagu Ramp have been left out, unable to make a living; and whether the exemption of ferry services for passenger traffic serves the interest of the prime minister, a shareholder in Bahamas Fast Ferries.
“Is the Prime Minister looking out for his own interest?
“He has also confirmed that he will be keeping himself beyond the reach of the press.
“None of this is acceptable.
“The prime minister is abusing his power. The PLP will continue to feed the poor and call it as we see it.”
Davis also touched on the government’s proposed rental assistance program, saying it does not go far enough;
On Sunday, Minnis said he hopes the opposition will be guided by a broad-based patriotic spirit, as he announced that some decisions ahead will be uncomfortable and “will be painful”.
But Davis said while the PLP is united in its “patriotism and love of country”, it will part from the government on “allowing the prime minister to lead us into darkness”
“When you spend three years governing through victimization and spite, you have to do a lot more to unite the country than telling us how to celebrate Mother’s Day,” Davis said.
“The prime minister’s address was a study in depression and hopelessness.
“The prime minister just doesn’t get it.
“He is clueless as to the fate of his people and out of touch with the harsh reality that he has imposed on our people’s lives.
“What he has said does not alleviate the anxiety being experienced in our communities, which is likely to threaten peace and good order.”