By KHRISNA VIRGIL kvirgil@tribunemedia.net THE Progressive Liberal Party's Fort Charlotte candidate Andre Rollins accused the FNM of using deception as a tool to distract voters from a "bad reality." Mr Rollins' claim rests on a continuing controversy in the Hannes Babak saga. Babak was chairman of the Grand Bahama Port Authority before the renewal of his work permit - which expired at the end of 2009 - was turned down by the Ingraham government. According to Mr Rollins, the deceit ploy was evident at the FNM's "Take 5" rally in Grand Bahama on Sunday. "Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham made what can only be described as an ill-advised impromptu remark, and in the process inadvertently revealed that his junior minister of finance, Zhivargo Laing, lied to the people of Grand Bahama in a statement he issued a little more than a year ago." Referring to an article from a local daily on December 8, 2010, Mr Rollins said reports were made of the government's refusal to renew Hannes Babak's work permit. He said the article implied a lack of cooperation, engagement and that the port was playing a direct role in stifling and stalling Grand Bahama's economy. Following Sir Jack's remarks to the press, Mr Laing called them "silly, misguided and offensive." He repeated Mr Laing's claims. "It is a terrible admission on (Sir Jack) Hayward's part to acknowledge that the hopes of him and his family as well as the other Port families were entwined in Hannes Babak. If that is so, the Grand Bahama Port Authority Board, its management and partners are not worth two dimes. Instead of laying the blame at the feet of the government, Hayward should turn his sights to the GBPA." Mr Rollins noted that the Marco City MP had said on the record "nothing has been more injurious to Grand Bahama's economic health than the awful fight between the shareholders of the GBPA in which Sir Jack was a leading player." "The article then quotes Mr Laing as saying that the Ingraham administration was 'working to improve the economy of the island regardless of the infighting that has been going on within the GPBA." Mr Rollins, in the press release, cites Mr Laing's comment as a contradiction to Mr Ingraham's remark at the rally. At the time Mr Ingraham said: "Since the last time I spoke to you, Sir Jack Hayward and I had a chance to talk. "Now that he is willing to divorce himself from one Hannes Babak, we can do business." Mr Rollins explained that Mr Ingraham accidentally revealed that Mr Laing's claims of the government "working" with the GBPA to improve the island's economy, despite the infighting between the Port's shareholders, was quite simply a lie. "This admission also proved that this FNM administration has in fact been a major impediment to the economic progress on that island, because only since this recent turn of events was this administration willing to work with this critical grouping," Mr Rollins said. Listing a variety of issues that have escalated, Mr Rollins said the educational system, the economy and industries, the national debt, and the murder count should be the government's main concern. He said: "Our educational system is producing alarmingly high rates of school leavers who cannot perform at basic levels; our economy and industries are shrinking; our skyrocketing national debt is prompting recurrent downgrades of our sovereign credit rating. "The number of unemployed and discouraged workers is enormous; Bahamian workers are increasingly feeling squeezed by high numbers of immigrant labourers; and we are shooting our way to the top of the list of the world's most murderous places."


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