Statement by FNM
We are at the mid-point of the first 100 days of the Perry Christie led PLP Government elected on the 7th May past. The PLP won the election assisted by a very well-funded glossy platform which permitted them to begin an early assault on the last FNM Government through print and television ads reeking with hyperbole and overstatement.
They said that they would be ready to govern on Day 1. And, they promised that they would make specific progress on a list of matters within 100 days of their election to office. National Health Insurance and Urban Renewal were but two of the issues which they claimed would receive priority attention. And they claimed that they would create jobs and reduce unemployment.
They won the election; already theirs is a pyrrhic victory. They were not ready on Day I. Mr. Christie failed, for a second time, to meet the Constitutional requirement to appoint an Attorney General on the first day of his Government’s return to office, that is, on the same day that he was sworn in as Prime Minister.
Now at the midpoint of the first 100 days, he has yet to appoint Chairmen to head the Boards of three important Public Corporations: The Bahamas Electricity Corporation, the Broadcasting Corporation of The Bahamas and the Water and Sewerage Corporation.
I do note that the Prime Minister made a most inappropriate announcement at the funeral services for a senior officer of the Bahamas Electricity Corporation – informing assembled mourners that he would appoint Mr. Leslie Miller as Chairman of the BEC Board within days. You will be aware that a concern has been raised in the public over this proposed appointment given still unanswered questions surrounding Mr. Miller’s alleged indebtedness to BEC. Mr. Christie needs to speak clearly and decisively on this matter and not rely on his surrogates to give blustering statements in defense.
Mr. Christie leads a minority Government. That is to say that more voters voted against his Party than in support of it. The least that he and his Government should do now is to concentrate on delivering on their many promises to the Bahamian people.
Promises people trusted would be fulfilled!
Promises people voted for!
Promises people believed in!
Having been defeated at the poll for having presented a realistic agenda for the next term in office the FNM, along with the rest of The Bahamas, have waited to see just how this newly elected PLP-Government would perform and how they would set about keeping their many promises made during the campaign.
The PLP cannot claim ignorance of the economic state of our economy.
The PLP cannot claim to have been surprised by the level of unemployment in the economy. They campaigned on the fact that unemployment was too high.
They cannot claim that they did not know the dimensions of the Government debt. They campaigned on the fact that the FNM has increased the Government debt too much – notwithstanding that they voted in support of each loan proposal brought to Parliament save for one.
The public record shows that the FNM Government regularly informed the House of Assembly and the Bahamian public of the terrible impact of the global recession on the Bahamian economy. We took each and every proposal to increase Government-debt to Parliament and received Parliamentary approval to borrow funds that were then used to stimulate the economy through wide-spread public infrastructure development projects and through innovative job training and job creation initiatives.
The PLP also knew that the FNM Government took the difficult decision to increase NIB contributions to accommodate the introduction of an unemployment benefit to assist Bahamians losing their jobs to the recession.
They claimed that they had a better way; that they could do more than the FNM were doing. On that basis they have been elected to office.
Now at the midpoint of their self-imposed 100 Days of Action we are being treated to excuses and broken promises. Broken promises this early in this administration do not bode well for this new Government.
Throughout the General Election campaign the PLP said that they would introduce National Health Insurance within the first year in office. Candidate, Dr. Perry Gomez claimed that all the work had been done and that if elected the PLP could move expeditiously on the NHI front.
Now, Minister of Health, Dr. Perry Gomez says that the government does not have a set date for the plan to begin. In fact, in Thursday’s Bahama Journal he is quoted as saying: “we have to wait until the circumstances are right in terms of the level of unemployment comes down because it is a paying scheme and it involves everybody participating.”
I believe that the Bahamian people know that the unemployment level has not changed since the General Election held 6 weeks ago. Indeed, the only newly unemployed Bahamians are those whose employment is being discontinued by the PLP Government – most of them in Urban Renewal Offices, a programme which the PLP also claimed during the election campaign had been closed down and discontinued by the FNM.
The PLP promised jobs for Bahamians, but they have chosen to discontinue the employment of 80 hard working Bahamians from the Urban Renewal programme, the same programme they claimed was no longer functioning, a programme they claimed the FNM stopped. Still they were able to identify some 80 persons in that non-existant programme to advise that their employment will not be continued past the end of this month June, 2012.
Are these people not Bahamians?
Are these not the people the PLP promised to believe in and to invest in?
This is a cruel, cruel twisted outcome of the empty promises made to the Bahamian people.
We must also remember that days before the General Election, Mr. Christie was shown on television disputing allegations that the PLP were planning to fire staff from public corporations and ending job creation initiatives put in place by the FNM Government. At the time he said that all such assertions were false; he claimed with words to the effect that that ‘where a Government led by me finds Bahamians working, we would not do anything to stop their employment’. It seems that his promise excluded all persons engaged in the Urban Renewal Centres.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
The FNM does not accept that the PLP can blame the level of unemployment for the delay in the introduction of the NHI programme promised by them during the election campaign. They knew what the unemployment level was during the campaign. With that knowledge and information they made a promise to introduce NHI within one year. They cannot now in good conscience claim that our unemployment level will prevent them from keeping their promise to the Bahamian people.
It seems that the PLP Government needs to be reminded that they are the Government of all The Bahamas and of all Bahamians notwithstanding that they are a PLP-led Government.
They are also well advised to remember that they are a minority Government. More Bahamians voted against their inflated Election Platform than supported it. They are already failing to keep their most important promises to the Bahamian people – promises of not creating more unemployment but of preserving jobs; promises of introducing NHI within one year of return to office – not of advising that the promise is now being placed on a sliding date schedule; and promising of Urban Renewal 2.0 – not of discontinuing the employment of Bahamians and reassigning trained policemen to perform social assistance tasks – buying and delivering food – instead of fighting crime in on our streets.