Thursday, September 11, 2014

Call for the enactment of Campaign Finance Legislation in The Bahamas

Governments for Sale? (Campaign Finance Reform)

Last week the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) and scores of other citizens and residents of this country watched with dismay, as the government pressed forward with its plans to legitimize the long illegal web shop industry in the Bahamas. This action comes following the resounding public no vote in the January 2013 “referendum” and further upholds years of gaming discrimination against Bahamians. In addition to inviting the potential for new levels of government corruption, the recently tabled gaming legislation seems to be an effort by this Christie led administration to reward web shop bosses who have for years operated in contravention of the law; giving the owners of these illegal establishments what equates to a mere slap on the wrist for years of illegal operation with only minimal fines, fees and penalties imposed.

Clearly, the government’s gaming legislation was designed, not with the interests of the wider Bahamian population in mind, but was instead formulated to meet the needs and desires of web shop owners. The question though, is why? Why would a government which claims to be acting in the best interest of ALL BAHAMIANS table legislation which clearly caters to the whims of a select group? Could it perhaps be payback for the millions of dollars reportedly pumped into the Progressive Liberal Party’s (PLP) 2012 election campaign?

The tabling of the new gaming legislation once again thrusts the important issue of Campaign Finance Reform back into the spotlight. The DNA Calls on the government to implement clear guidelines which will govern future election campaign donations. Such guidelines should require ALL POLITICAL ORGNAIZATIONS to make full disclosure of its financial statements. Under the new regulations, all political parties would be bound by law to publicly disclose the amounts of all campaign finance donations and make known how those funds were raised. In addition, campaign finance reform would also place limits on how much one individual or organization is allowed to donate to a political party.

Doing so will limit the potential influence of special interest groups on government policy and create governments which will execute the will of the people with improved levels of transparency and accountability.

No one individual, group of individuals or organization should be able to – in essence – buy a government; the level of influence which has been exerted on this government by special interests groups during this term in office is a clear indication that our system of governance has been compromised.

The influence of money on our past elections has made and will continue to make the causes which are most crucial for our people and the development of our nation, second, to the will of special interest groups. Since taking office, this administration has paid only lip service to the idea of increased transparency in governance while failing at every turn to enact legislation which would eliminate the opacity which currently exists.

The DNA calls for the enactment of Campaign Finance Legislation but true to form, this PLP government will not introduce such legislation because they are guilty of what the legislation will stand for. This legislation will only be introduced under a DNA government.

Branville McCartney
DNA Leader