FNM: PLP remains in denial on National Sports Authority

FNM: PLP remains in denial on National Sports Authority
The official logo of the Free National Movement (FNM).

PLP chairman says FNM  is ‘wasting time chasing after their tails’  

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The Free National Movement (FNM) continued its attack on the Opposition Progressive Liberal Party on Monday, after an Auditor General’s report tabled in the House of Assembly last week revealed that Sports Authority contracts and upgrades while the PLP was in office lacked transparency.

The Progressive Liberal Party, however, did not waste any time to respond, charging that the FNM has launched a continued campaign of denigrating the PLP and its work as part of its campaign and narrative for the next general election.

A statement released Monday by the FNM outlined that the government has rules in place to protect the taxpayers, but there were leaders in government under the PLP administration who felt as if the rules did not apply to them.

“Under the past PLP government we saw this mentality take hold leading to a culture of corruption sapping the country of economic activity and opportunity,” the FNM said.

A six-year audit of the National Sports Authority (NSA) revealed that expenditures to support stadium readiness upgrades lacked transparency, the government may not have gotten value for money from special funding provided to put on several international events, and numerous contracts lacked formalized process and transparency.

The review period was between July 19, 2011 to December 31, 2017.

Between the period in question, the government provided $7.16 million to the Authority.

As of December 27, 2017, the Authority had $521,916.79 spread across four chequing accounts, the bulk of which was in an account for operations ($464,329.29) and an account for ticketing ($51,546.25).

Yesterday, the FNM said the Auditor General’s report on the PLP’s ‘willful maleficene’ at the National Sports Authority clearly violated the Financial Administration and Audit Act 2010, Financial Regulations 1975 and the Sports Authority Act 2011.

“The PLP’s negligent activity concerning the National Sports Authority spanned  the entirety of the Christie era, and today the PLP’s push back against the government’s effort to stamp out corruption and increase transparency leads the people to believe the party of corruption is showing no signs of changing,” the FNM said, adding that the PLP remains in denial.

“Now, they recklessly claim a conspiracy to fabricate a false report, as if any soul in The Bahamas would believe them after their track record of pillaging. Constituents aren’t the ones suffering from amnesia, as they remember quite clearly how the PLP exploited their positions in government to abuse the taxpayer at every turn,” the FNM claimed.

According to the FNM, the Minnis administration wants to make it clear that whether PLP or FNM, no one is above the law.

The FNM said elected leaders will now be held accountable to the people they serve and treat the taxpayer with the respect they deserve.

The FNM said the days of the rampant corruption and abusing the taxpayers are over.

“The audit showed there are literally millions of dollars unaccounted for and no amount of hysterics and politically-driven, pseudo protests will stop the government from getting to the bottom of this maleficence.

“The FNM Government, under Prime Minister, Dr. Hubert Minnis, is working to put an end to these nefarious activities that clearly harm the public.

“They are working to put our fiscal house in order, protect the people and the public while elevating The Bahamas standing with the international community. Bahamians deserve a government that works for them, not just itself, and the FNM will continue fighting to that end,” the FNM’s statement concluded.

In response, PLP chairman Senator Fred Mitchell outlined in a statement released Monday that almost two years into their administration, the FNM is still not governing but ‘wasting time chasing after their tails’.

“If anyone had any doubt that the ‘political fix’ was in when the Auditor General wrote the report that seemed to suggest missing money at the National Sports Authority, the announcement by Peter Turnquest, the Deputy Prime Minister, that he is considering a forensic audit to find the legal basis to recover the monies paid confirms that the ‘fix’ is in,” the PLP said.

The PLP said it has evidence of past audits where claims have been made about one thing or the next with regard to expenditure under the governance of the PLP, only to find that the premise on which the accusations were made was entirely false.

“We have no doubt that this is the same scenario at work here, again,” the PLP said.

“An auditor can only speak to what they find on the day they showed up for the audit.

“What is also operating here are two competing visions of sports policy: The FNM does not believe in supporting The Bahamas as an international brand which will be a source of Bahamian jobs for our young people.

“In stark contrast, the PLP believes in the establishment of Brand Bahamas as a platform for jobs for your young people.”

The Opposition claimed that the FNM is intentionally starving the sports establishment of resources.

“Then the final piece of the puzzle came this morning with Mr. Turnquest saying that they are thinking of doing a forensic audit,” the PLP chairman said.

“This proposed audit will create more jobs for the FNM boys in the accounting profession and create yet another opportunity to put untested, prejudicial and tendentious material into the public domain to denigrate the PLP.

“The public has seen the audit reports of both BPL and W&SC. PLPs are therefore advised of what the name of the game is and act accordingly.”