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Mitchell Hits Back At Laing Criticism

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Fred Mitchell

By CELESTE NIXON

Tribune Staff Reporter

cnixon@tribunemedia.net

THE “mismanagement” of the country’s economy under the former administration has led to $500 million deficit, Minister of Foreign Affairs Fred Mitchell said.

Hitting back at FNM shadow Finance Minister Zhivargo Laing’s complaint that the government has failed to adequately address unemployment, Mr Mitchell said the FNM crippled the economy by initiating programmes with hefty overruns, including the road works project, which has exceeded its initial budget by $100 million.

He said: “Their mismanagement of the economy necessitated a $500 million deficit, exceeding the road works programme in New Providence by almost $100 million, 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 accused the government of leaving hundreds of Bahamians without hope as the former administration’s temporary work programme comes to an end.

Defending the FNM’s record, Mr Laing said in response to massive job losses caused by the global recession the FNM government invested almost $50 million to provide four thousand jobs over a 52-week period – the second such programme following a six-month job scheme.

“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,” he said.

Calling on the government to extend the programme, Mr Laing said there must be funds available, “because tucked away in the Prime Minister’s own office budget is $25 million earmarked for nothing in particular.”

Mr Laing said the PLP should do what the FNM did and invest 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,” he said. “Invest that money in unemployed Bahamians, not PLP politicians.”

According to Mr Mitchell however, the 52 week programme was “political scheme” the aim of which was to keep the FNM in office and went over budget by more than $20 million.

“The emergency of which he speaks is a manufactured one and one entirely of the making of the FNM,” Mr Mitchell said.

He said the government will be looking at every person hired under the old programme on a case-by-case basis and those persons who are needed and can be funded will be returned to the public payroll.

Additionally, the government is in the process to launching a national jobs training programme which will be designed to address the skill needs and demands of the economy, Mr Mitchell said.

He said with the country facing an IMF audit, the government intends 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.”

Comments

shortpants 7 years, 3 months ago

So Fredricka the 52 week programme was “political scheme” but the Bahamians had a job to support themselves .You'll PLP say you'll believe in Bahamians so why stop it .Like Mr.Laing ssaid tucked away in the Prime Minister’s own office budget is $25 million earmarked for nothing in particular.” use it to help the we Believe in Bahamians.Stop helping you'll families that don't need help, the rich get richer and the poor stay poor.Tal Russell what cat gat your tongue now call a spade a spade . We as Bahamians need to start showing you'll we put you'll to work for us and start screaming for you'll heads when you'll mess around .Think you'll coming for the next five years to get fat of the Bahamians think again.

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Guy 7 years, 3 months ago

Fredericka? It is sad that in order to make a point you need to be disrespectful. That said, my position as a taxpayer find it detestable that Governments are allowed to buy votes at the expense of the public. Peter is no better than Paul, and both administrations are guilty of it. The idea that unqualified persons can decide to remain unqualified, have many children that they can not afford then run to the government for jobs of political patronage. We suffer in an environment where the country struggles to maintain an increasingly financially unsustainable civil service, which is one of the largest (per capita) and most unproductive in the world. Don't get me wrong: I have no problem with political appointments of well trained talent that enables us to realize a return on the investment. But to continue to rely on the government for direct employment of thousands of persons is a flawed strategy. I prefer to see the government train these individuals to so that they can compete nationally and globally, rather than extend temporary "work programs" to win the seat of political power.

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