By CELESTE NIXON
Tribune Staff Reporter
PRIME Minister Perry Christie declined to say whether numbers houses donated to the PLP’s North Abaco by-election campaign.
Following tabloid reports that major gambling houses gave the party $1.2 million to help finance the election, Mr Christie suggested that until campaign finance reform is carried out, it would not be “fair” for him to disclose such information.
However, while campaign financial reform is on the agenda, Mr Christie said, the government must first concentrate on more pressing issues.
“The country,” he said, “will in fact have an opportunity to look at legislation at some stage but right now we are dealing with current events – getting the economy going, crime under control and creating some jobs for people, that is what we are trying to do right now.”
When first asked by reporters yesterday whether numbers houses contributed to the PLP’s by-election campaign, Mr Christie said the party has held fund raisers, and donations have been made, but he could not specify from whom.
“I don’t know,” he said, “obviously it comes up as to who they donate to and don’t donate to – I am hopeful that we have a lot of lawful donations. You are asking me about campaign financial reform but until such time, companies who pay National Insurance and do these different things are able to make donations and I don’t know that we are going to disclose the names of any of them.”
When asked directly if numbers houses contributed to the PLP’s campaign, Mr Christie said: “Of course, it wouldn’t be fair for me to say that.”
While there are no specific guidelines, Mr Christie said a culture has developed in which companies donate to both parties openly.
“You obviously try to guide yourself wisely in terms of who you accept money from; you want to be able to know that your sources are legitimate,” he said. “A tradition has developed in the Bahamas where the big companies make donations and tend not to do it any secret way and you hope you get equal money in terms of what they give one, they give the next one. That has been happening for some time.”