By DENISE MAYCOCK
FREEPORT - Opposition leader Perry Christie said the FNM government made the recession worse, causing increased unemployment and crime in the Bahamas.
While in Grand Bahama on Saturday, Mr Christie, pictured, noted that more than 20 per cent of Grand Bahamians are unemployed.
"When I visit with you, I hear words like 'ghost town' and 'devastated' and 'abandoned'. I hear about the jobs lost and a crime problem growing bigger than anyone could have imagined," Mr Christie said.
The PLP held a "Gold Rush" rally in Pineridge at the old Portion Control site on West Atlantic Drive, a few feet from the FNM's headquarters.
Mr Christie said the recession was made worse by the FNM's borrowing of hundreds of millions dollars for infrastructural projects, which benefited foreign contractors.
He also said the delaying of projects started by the former PLP government resulted in many job losses, and slowed the economy.
"That's not my opinion, that's a fact - that's what international agency Standard and Poor's said.
"Delaying PLP contracts directly contributed to the economic downturn here," Christie said.
"They failed on crime. They dismantled PLP programmes like Urban Renewal, Swift Justice, Witness Protection and School Policing, because they were PLP programmes," he said.
Mr Christie said crime is also affecting the economy, compounding the suffering of Bahamians.
"When people don't feel safe going out at night, it hurts the economy. When small businesses have to spend on security, it makes them less competitive, and it hurts the economy.
"When the US embassy tells US citizens - as it did in an e-mail warning sent out this week - to watch out in the Bahamas for staged traffic accidents that turn into robberies, you don't think that affects our economy? Of course it does," Mr Christie said.