It is unfortunate that The Bahamian people, in what should be a season of optimism and jubilance, must be continuously subjected to misery under the stewardship of this Free National Movement led Government. In addition to the overwhelming statistics on crime, namely the unprecedented murder rate and the associated fear that has gripped us as a society, we heard nothing encouraging last evening from the Junior Minister for Finance on the newly released unemployment figures.
The best news this visionless, rudderless Government could give us for Christmas is that the rate of joblessness is decreasing. That is, unemployment figures are continuing to rise but not as astronomically as it did in the first half of 2009. Well, Merry Christmas indeed, fellow Bahamians! The interview with the Junior Minister then went on to discuss the anticipation for stimulation and job creation in our economy, apart from the temporary jobs which will be created by the Government, once the recession bottoms out.
The PLP reminds the FNM that they failed to create the 10,000 jobs in Freeport they promised. The FNM government has also failed to resolve the impasse at the Grand Bahama Port Authority, a situation that is quickly suffocating and strangling the economic life force out of Grand Bahama. The unseemly behavior of the Prime Minister through his ill-advised comments about the work permit status of the Port’s chairman has exacerbated the ownership crisis at the Port and made the relationship between the two that much more tenuous.
Further, this government has failed to effectively manage our tourism product and protect the jobs of thousands of workers in this most vital sector. Under this government’s stewardship, the record shows that stopover arrivals have declined, occupancy levels have declined, tourism expenditure has declined, the budget for tourism was reduced, and mass displacement of hotel workers has become the order of the day. The record will show that in this region, our neighbours and competitors have enjoyed measurable growth in their tourism sector in the face of the same global economic challenges faced by the Bahamas.
For no sensible reason, the government has displaced thousands of workers in the public sector, directly contributing to the increase in unemployment.
The government has not been unable to attract any new and meaningful capital injection into our ailing economy to facilitate an economic stimulus that will create jobs, create spin off industries and improve the revenue performance of the government.
This government is on record as imposing the single largest tax increase on the Bahamian people through increases in custom duties and excise taxes.
This government’s stop, review, and cancel policy and infamous delay tactics have not only caused the Bahamian economy to stall, but has frightened many investors and would-be investors away who could very well be hesitant about investing in the Bahamas and understandably so. The treatment of the principals of the Bahamar project is just one example.
The PLP submits that the baneful actions of the government, and in some cases their inaction, have together significantly contributed to the current levels of unemployment. We point out that this high level of unemployment is redundant and it did not have to be this way. The government simply failed to demonstrate the vision, the requisite political maturity and political will required to focus on the wellbeing of the Bahamian people and the future security of our country. It opted for petty partisan politics and political tribalism.
We remind the FNM that where there is no vision, the people perish and the Bahamian people are experiencing the whirlwind of this vision-less government.