PM indicates campaign finance bill by end of term

Legislation to regulate campaign finances will be implemented before the end of this term, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said on Friday.

When asked about the matter following the Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association’s (BHTA) annual general meeting, Minnis told reporters, “My five years ain’t up yet and you [will] promise me another five years.

“So I have five years to put in the campaign finance reform, and I have another five years for you to see it working properly.”

On the 2017 election campaign trail, Minnis promised that, if elected, his government would bring legislation to regulate campaign financing.

However, Deputy Leader of the Progressive Liberal Party Chester Cooper last week accused Minnis of being silent on the matter.

While contributing to debate in Parliament on a compendium of financial bills, including the Non-Profit Organisations Bill, 2018 Cooper said, “Well, I noticed you got the churches in here and left political parties out of this legislation; so much for the need for political campaign finance reform.

“You promised it. You marched for it. ‘We March’ marched for it.

“Well, I wasn’t among the ‘we’ there, but the prime minister was.

“He marched with ‘We March’, and he promised campaign finance reform.

“It’s been 18 months since that glorious day (the election) and still crickets on the subject.”

The matter has been a longstanding issue. Ahead of the last election, there were allegations that Canadian fashion mogul Peter Nygard provided millions of dollars to help the Progressive Liberal Party win the election in 2012 and claims that Nygard’s Lyford Cay neighbor Louis Bacon indirectly funded the Free National Movement in an effort to destabilize the Christie administration.

Following the 2012 election, the Organization of American States (OAS) recommended that the government implement a framework for financing political parties.

The OAS team also recommended that the government prohibit anonymous donations or international donors from giving money to campaigns and create a mechanism to oversee the flow of money within campaigns.

Despite repeated pronouncements that his administration would address the issue of money and elections, former Prime Minister Perry Christie never did.

In 1980, the then Pindling administration drafted a bill to govern money in politics.

The bill, however, never made it off the shelf.

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Sloan Smith

Sloan covers national news for The Nassau Guardian. Sloan officially joined the news team in September 2016 but interned at The Nassau Guardian while studying journalism at the University of The Bahamas. Education: Vrije Universiteit Brussel (University of Brussels), MA in Mass Communications

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