Laing says government didn’t invest in Bahamians

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FNM Senator Zhivargo Laing...

In response to massive job losses caused by the greatest recession in 80 years, the Ingraham administration invested almost $50 million in Bahamians who were hurting by providing more than 4 thousand jobs over a 52 week period. This was the second such program, because in the first instance, a 6-month program was provided.  Still in the throes of economically desperate times, high unemployment and rising cost of living, the job-readiness and training program introduced by the FNM government, precisely to provide relief to Bahamians, is coming to an end for thousands of hard working Bahamians.

Today, hundreds of these BAHAMIANS find themselves at the end of the programme going home without ONE iota of HOPE for either a TEMPORARY JOB or a PERMANENT job to sustain them.  This is not the time to mention that the PLP often suggested that it ALONE cares for Bahamians, BELIEVES in Bahamians and puts Bahamians FIRST because the real issues is that these Bahamians are in desperate need.

They still have their families, mortgages, rent, electricity, and back to school expenses and other obligations.  It is not important to mention that the PLP once said that these needs were not being addressed by the FNM by giving people a job for 52-weeks only.  The issue now is that these same Bahamians are going home with NO JOBS for NO WEEKS to enable them to address any financial commitment.

I URGE THE CHRISTIE ADMINISTRATION TO DEMONSTRATE HEART, COMPASSION AND PREPAREDNESS TO GOVERN IN DIFFICULT TIMES, SUCH AS THESE.

Just last week the Minister of Social Services, The Hon. Melanie Griffin, told us that poverty was on the rise for some eight years now, meaning from the time the PLP was in office.  Bahamians do not elect or want their Leaders to be experts at DESCRIBING their problems; they want to them to provide PRESCRIPTIONS and SOLVE their problems.  That is why the FNM created the job readiness program in the first place: to address a problem of high joblessness.

What should the Government do?  Extend the program for these struggling Bahamians.  It cannot be said that the money is not there because tucked away in the Prime Minister’s OWN OFFICE BUDGET IS 15 MILLION DOLLARS, EARMARKED FOR NOTHING IN PARTICULAR.  It IS the PEOPLE’S MONEY!  Do what the FNM did; “invest” it in people!  Still yet, millions of dollars are being spent to provide jobs for PLP MPs and Senators by appointing the largest Cabinet in the history of The Bahamas. Invest that money in unemployed Bahamians not PLP politicians.

PLP Ministers, Brave Davis and Fred Mitchell, are flying to Los Angelos spending thousands of dollars on plane tickets, hotel suits and parties to present plaques…spend THAT MONEY on these hurting Bahamians.

Compassion is not just a word; it’s an act by caring for people.  The scriptures say, “If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food and one of you says to them, ‘go in peace, be warmed and filled’, and without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?  So faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (James 2:16-17)

Those Bahamians for whom the programme is coming to an end and who have no immediate job prospects should know that they can apply to the National Insurance Board for benefits under the FNM initiated Unemployment Benefit Programme, so that they can have some additional relief for at least thirteen weeks.

Some of them are being told that they cannot make such an application because their NIB payments were not paid, that is totally untrue.
It was the Government’s obligation to make such payments and so long as they were on the programme and can prove same, then they are entitled to apply. Ironically, proof of their being on the programme is now the termination letters they are receiving from the Christie administration.

It was an honour for the Ingraham administration to provide this timely investment in Bahamians in these difficult times and was grateful to the many companies that participated and continue to participate in the programme

We are proud that many Bahamians were able to pay bills for at least one year in bad economic times; that others were able to receive training that will be with them for a life time making them more marketable; and yet others were kept on permanently by the companies for which they worked during the 52 weeks. The PLP should do like the FNM did: invest in Bahamians.

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