Eleuthera, March 24th, 2012 —Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham joined candidate Howard Johnson to open the Central and South Eleuthera constituency headquarters.
Speaking from the Family Island named after freedom, Ingraham took the opportunity to introduce the Heritage Tourism Initiative, a new programme to be initiated under his next administration.
The PM introduced this new initiative as a policy to help boost the multimillion dollar heritage tourism sector which will “help spur jobs and economic activity and help to enhance Bahamian ownership within the tourism industry.”
The PM explained that the Heritage Tourism Initiative will also “help upgrade some of the infrastructure needed to enhance various heritage sites and the heritage experience and…help communities to create and facilitate heritage tours by utilizing a mixture of incentives, small grants and microloans.”
Ingraham commented on a number of election promises the PLP leader, Perry Christie, has been making recently. The PM accused Christie of being unrealistic in his fanciful claim that the PLP will double the national education budget. “Christie wants us to believe that he can actually double the $290 million annual education budget to $580 million. Over just four years that would amount to $2.3 billion. That amount is more than the total national annual budget which is just under $2 billion.” The PM went on to explain that: “that kind of annual expenditure is not possible. You can’t borrow that kind of money and you can’t make it!”
The PM went on to list further accomplishments of the FNM over the last five years, including spending $25 million for Bahamian students to attend COB on scholarship. The PM compared this figure to that granted under the previous PLP administration, stating that it is “5 times more than the PLP spent on COB scholarships between 2002 and 2007.”
The PM explained that public investments were absolutely essential for attracting sustained domestic and foreign investment to help boost jobs and economic activity. He listed such public investments, including installation of new water mains and replacing and upgrading water storage and pumping stations from Savannah Sound to Governors Harbour and from Tarpum Bay to Rock Sound. The PM reminded his audience that when cable television was introduced into the Bahamas, the FNM ensured that every settlement with access to central electrical and telephone service would also have access to cable.
As well as mentioning past accomplishments of the FNM, the PM discussed future pledges for his next term in office, such as the vision to construct a new Central Government Administrative complex in Central Eleuthera, expanding educational facilities, improving tuition materials, increasing the numbers of teachers, and making tertiary education more accessible for Bahamians.
The PM said that he was pained to learn of 80 Family Island students who qualified to enter COB last year but could not go because there was insufficient space in the college dorms and they could not afford to pay rent in Nassau. “I promise you tonight that in our next term in office, we will construct additional dormitory space to accommodate more Family Islands students and we will provide rental stipends to needs-tested students who cannot be accommodated in the dormitories,” said the PM.
The PM praised Howard Johnson as being a local man, and therefore able to offer the best representation. He took the chance to criticise the PLP for offering a candidate from Nassau as their representation in Central and South Eleuthera. The PM is confident that the FNM will win in both North and Central and South Eleuthera: “the Colour Red is going to sweep all of Eleuthera,” he remarked.