Mitchell Responds to Laing on 52 week workers

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Hon. Fred Mitchell

ON ZHIVARGO LAING STATEMENT ON THE 52 WEEK WORKERS

Zhivargo Laing has a convenient but pickled and jaundiced memory on this matter. Just over 100 days ago, his government was booted out of office for their wild and wooly running of the affairs of the country. Their mismanagement of the economy necessitated a five hundred million dollar deficit, exceeding the road works programme in New Providence by almost 100 million dollars, and inflating the government payroll with gratuitous contracts to their friends and cronies. It is clear that the fiscal policies and reckless spending of the FNM were pushing the economy and the public treasury to ruins.

Mr. Laing has a bloody nerve to open his mouth and lecture people on fiscal prudence and responsibility having left the public treasury in an utter shambles. He must surely jest when he seeks to lecture the PLP on compassion from a government of the FNM known for its spitefulness, meanness, vindictiveness and victimizing Bahamians with impunity.

The progamme that they started was a fifty two week programme. They allocated 25 million dollars in the budget for it, but then in a desperate attempt to save their party in office allowed the bill to run up to 48 million dollars and counting. There was no accounting for it, few proper records and general disorder on the point.

In a few weeks, the country faces an IMF audit and the PLP will be forced to account for the misdeeds and wild spending of Mr. Laing and the then Leader of his party Hubert Ingraham. We intend to present a picture of a plan to rescue the nation, with reasonable policies, fiscal prudence and yet supporting the job security of our people. It cannot be done by supporting misdirected political schemes like the rushed one which Mr. Laing now seeks to defend.

The government has decided on a case by case basis to look at each of those people hired under the programme. It was a programme which people knew when they signed on, and which the FNM said would only last fifty two weeks. Those persons who are required, needed and can be funded in the system will be returned to the public payrolls in a responsible manner. In the case of the