COMMENTARY BY OBIE ROBERTS
PROGRESSIVE LIBERAL PARTY
JOBLESS NUMBERS PROOF BAHAMAS MOVING IN THE WRONG DIRECTION
27TH JANUARY 2019
Last week was a particularly bad week for the governing Free National Movement. The member for Centerville and member of the Public Accounts Committee resigned from the committee, citing the ineffectiveness of the committee and that serving on it was a waste of time. In an inexplicable move, The Bahamas voted to delegitimize the sitting government of Venezuela and to recognize that country’s Opposition Leader as the interim president. The worst news of all however were the dismal unemployment numbers which indicated an increase in joblessness to double digits for the second time in just twenty months.
The government failed to provide a rational explanation for this hike after complaining that the Bahamian people were suffering under the PLP and promised to usher in an era of change with unprecedented prosperity. Its surrogates did not fare any better. The record shows that within six months of coming to office, unemployment increased and the slide continued to date.
The Chairman of the PLP, Senator Fred Mitchell, issued a statement calling on the government to change course because the suffering was too much for Bahamians to bear.
In a public meeting at the Doris Johnson Senior High School on Wednesday, 23rd January 2019, Opposition Leader the Hon. Philip Brave Davis lashed out at the FNM government, suggesting that the government was not using the national budget for the benefit of all Bahamians. Mr. Davis also pointed out that whatever the economic strategy of the FNM was, the same was a failure and not working for the Bahamian people.
Using comparative unemployment statistics to make the case for the return of the PLP to government, the Opposition Leader provided proof that unlike the FNM, the PLP knows how to create jobs and bring economic relief to Bahamians:
“When the PLP came to office in May 2012, the unemployment rate was a whopping 14.7%.
When we demitted office in May 2017, the unemployment rate was reduced to single digits – it was down to 9.9%.
…39,505 jobs were added to the local economy in just five years, the highest for any five-year term…And check this…that number excluded the jobs created by Baha Mar.
…Another 5,000 jobs.
When we (the PLP) left office, the country was moving in the right direction.
Now under the FNM, our country is moving in the wrong direction.
There is simply too much suffering…too much mal content…too much misery.”
I note that between 2002 and 2007, just under 19,000 jobs were added to the economy under the stewardship of the PLP, the highest ever up to that date. Indeed unlike the helpless, hapless, hopeless and inept FNM, the PLP knows how to create jobs and bring economic relief to Bahamians.
Referring to the failure of the Commercial Enterprise Act, Oban and the purchase of the Grand Lucayan to deliver any economic benefit to Bahamians, Mr. Davis strongly suggested that the Minnis government was flat out of time to turn things around in the form of what he called a ‘truth’
“I again remind the FNM of this truth:
The average lead time for a project from approval to shovel in the ground is 3.5 years.
The ‘Menace’ government is on the doorstep of their third year and unemployment is on the increase.”
In offering his pro-growth policy alternatives buttressed by expanded ownership opportunities, Mr. Davis told supporters that the next PLP government must extensively explore “energy reform, independence and security; food security; expansion in our hotel inventory; Universal Healthcare; broad-based land reform; the blue economy and mega public projects.”
“We executed the ground work and did the heavy lifting on a number of these projects, but there is much work to be done” said Mr. Davis.