PLP PRESS RELEASE
There has been much talk about the $93 million in cost overruns of the New Providence Road Improvement Project (NPRIP). A project originally pegged at $113 million will now cost in excess of $206 million because of the incompetence of the FNM government and their failure to put Bahamians first.
The FNM government flatly refused to purchase hedge contracts or at the very least, negotiate a formula to compensate for the increase in the prices of oil and other raw materials. These cost control measures were well within the control of the government. In fact, even though the decision against purchasing the hedge was made in September, 2010, the recent IDP Project Profile for this project indicates that this FNM Government still has not entered into the negotiations to put the necessary protections in the contract against the rise in cost of raw materials.
This road works that was supposed to be an economic stimulus turned out to be a jobs killer because it hurt and in some cases killed so many small businesses.
There are so many productive ways $93 million could be spent to stimulate the Bahamian economy, preserve jobs and save Bahamian businesses.
This money could be used to finance a Job Rebate Program to provide prorated business license fee and real property tax rebates for all companies providing evidence of full time new hires. This program will not be a significant cost to Bahamians as the revenue lost will be offset by the money spent in the economy by people with jobs AND the savings by no payouts of unemployment benefits.
An aggressive Family Island Modernization Program could provide much needed jobs and economic activities in many economically depressed Family Islands while addressing critical infrastructure needs. Contracts to local Bahamian companies for the repair and construction of docks, bridges, roads, airports and seawalls throughout the Family Islands with international funding will facilitate this initiative. Local contractors will be utilized where possible and other contractors will be required to use local island labor to the extent practicable.
Contracts could be awarded to community leaders for the upkeep and maintenance of parks and public spaces within their community to foster a sense of pride and ownership and act as a social deterrent to criminal activity. In this project, many at risk youths will be targeted to offer an alternative to a life of crime.
The government could have provided tangible support to businesses impacted by the roadwork project, for instance, implementing a tax holiday and creating further incentive to rebuild their businesses. The government was late in responding to the needs of businessmen adversely impacted by the road works, and it appears the Prime Minister has only now completely reversed his position in this regard because of recommendations and the position of the recent IDB Project Report that calls for a Resettlement Plan that addresses such compensation. As a matter of fact, the government sent the Attorney General to court to appeal the judgment against the government by the Grove Business League regarding this compensation issue.
The government could have introduced a program in partnership with the private sector to modernize all public school classrooms for the 21st Century to better train and prepare the new Bahamian work force and to provide ongoing construction jobs. This is a win-win proposal as we better prepare our workforce while providing jobs and economic stimulus.
The Bahamian people need and deserve a government that believes in them, puts them first and advance policies that protect their well-being at all times. The PLP is such a government and stands ready to get to work for the Bahamian people on day one. If the New Providence Road Improvement Project was more effectively managed by the Government, the $93 million in cost overruns could have provided these and many more incentives, benefits and opportunities for Bahamians.