More than Fifteen Thousand Jobs were lost when the FNM held power!
By Bradley B. Roberts
Chairman of the PLP
The problem with the comments attributed to Peter Turnquest in the Business Section of the Nassau Guardian is that the comments are coming from the Free National Movement given their track record. His shameless hypocrisy is an outrage.
It is a fact that the government has engaged in much heavy lifting over the past three years to put the country’s fiscal house in order and to turn around the country’s number one industry. Additionally, Mr. Turnquest has failed to refute any claim made by the government in its response to the preliminary results of the November labour Survey.
If Turnquest wants to talk about “cold hard facts,” he must account for the cold hard fact that unemployment doubled from 7.6% to 14.8% in just five years under the watch of the FNM government; that amounts to 15,000 additional Bahamians being put out of work under the watch of the FNM. Also, he must explain how and why the economy contracted during that period of time; how the national debt expanded by 40%; the fact that the government’s bank overdraft stood at several hundred million dollars; why the budget deficit stood at $670 million and why tourism performance stood at a twenty-five year low. To add insult to injury, there was no investment project of significance in the pipeline to stimulate the economy so having left a budgetary surplus, near full employment and billions of dollars of projects in the pipeline in 2007, the incoming PLP government found itself back at ground zero with virtually no fiscal headroom and nothing to work with.
With such a terrible record of governance, Turnquest has the temerity to shamelessly tell Bahamians not to trust the PLP government.
This was the fiscal mess the PLP government inherited in May 2012. This is a matter of public record and Bahamians must not forget that.
It is ironic that the same figures from the Department of Statistics that Turnquest referred to also revealed the following “cold hard facts”: In May of 2012 there were 160,650 employed persons in the labour force and by November 2015, just three and one half years later, that figure had increased to 180,820 persons, an increase of 20,170 jobs being added to the economy under the watch of the PLP government.
Tourism has clearly rebounded in a big way, with increased airlifts in a number of family islands due to an aggressive and successful tourism marketing and co-branding campaign. Room rates and occupancy levels continue to show increases. Regional tourism leaders unanimously recognized The Bahamas’ Tourism Minister as the person of the year for his hard work in putting The Bahamas “back in the game” in the global tourism market.
With tourism performance languishing at a twenty-five year low under the FNM, The Bahamas was out of the game by 2012 and ceased to be a major player.
The Bahamas government has executed at least twenty-two (22) Heads of Agreement for tourism related projects to further strengthen the tourism project and brand, stimulate the economy and create jobs. The 30% decline in the number of discouraged workers is proof positive of the confidence and optimism that unemployed Bahamians continue to express in the economy.
In its latest assessment of the local economy, the Central Bank expressed optimism, projecting that the economy will “continue to grow at a very mild pace in 2016.” This is positive news compared to the terrible news of economic contraction just a few years ago under the watch of the FNM. Additionally, the Central Bank’s projections corroborate the earlier statement by the government that we continue to operate in a global economic environment marked by a “subdued and protracted” economic recovery. The government recognizes this and candidly admits to this reality.
THE BAHAMAS HAS COME A LONG WAY IN THREE AND ONE HALF YEARS!!
As we look to 2016, the country’s key performance indicators are much better than May 2012, therefore, the government has good reasons for its expressed informed optimism. With the opening of BahaMar in 2016 the challenges of unemployment will greatly diminish.