By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
PROGRESSIVE Liberal Party Chairman Bradley Roberts yesterday claimed the government coming into office a year ago did not have the available resources to fix the economy because of the state in which the previous administration left the country.
Speaking at Faith United Baptist Church where the PLP held its First Year Anniversary In Government Thanksgiving service, Mr Roberts noted that unlike USA president Barack Obama who had $1 trillion to attempt to restore America’s economy, the government did not have that to fix the economy.
He claimed that the Free National Movement lacked “the moral authority and credibility to criticise the PLP in light of the mess they helped create”.
“You would remember that US President Barack Obama was unable to turn America’s economy around in four years despite a stimulus package in excess of $1 trillion, that’s trillion with a ‘T’. The American people accepted that reality and re-elected him to a second term,” the chairman said.
“The truth of the matter is Prime Minister Christie and the PLP did not have any fiscal headroom to stimulate our economy, yet there are those who expect miracles,” he said.
“The essence of the FNM’s current message is very similar to that of the Republicans and it is simply this: We left the PLP a horrible mess in May 2012, but because they were unable to clean it all up and fix all the problems in one year, they are a failure.”
“The FNM lacks the moral authority and credibility to criticise the PLP in light of the mess they helped create. They should be apologising to the Bahamian people for this mess they created.”
Mr Roberts highlighted the work that the PLP did in its first term in office before the previous administration came to power in May 2007 before outlining the state that the FNM left the country in upon their return to office in May 2012.
“In May 2007, the FNM boldly predicted $25 million in budgetary surpluses before hitting the fist lick, thanks to the good stewardship of the PLP government between 2002 and 2007. They also had the good fortune of inheriting record government revenue; record tourism expenditure; fiscal headroom and a record number of stimulus projects in various stages of development.”
“In stark contrast last May, we faced a $600 million budgetary deficit greeting us at the door on day one which basically meant that the treasury was very broke.
“Let me be plain and clear – not $600 million to borrow to invest in projects for jobs creation, no, no, no – we had to borrow $600 million to pay off old bills left behind by the outgoing FNM government.”
The chairman noted that unemployment levels were on the rise, homeowners were behind on their mortgages and that “the fear of crime was off the charts” due to an increasing homicide rate since 2007.
Mr Roberts told those attending that regardless of what they had read or heard, it was “the naked and unvarnished truth about the state of the country one year ago”.
“I thank the government for laying out the framework of its priorities to drive the recovery and the future growth, development and prosperity of The Bahamas.”
“The $15 million road works compensation programme was a huge success where 229 of 248 businesses that applied for relief qualified and received relief from the government. More than 229 businesses and hundreds of jobs were saved. This is a 92 per cent success rate and good news for the economy.”
The chairman concluded that in spite of the critiques they have received about their governance, he stressed the government’s commitment to work and that the government “cares about Bahamians and puts Bahamians first”.
The Prime Minister also rallied the troops at the service. He pointed out that the PLP’s political platform, the “Charter for Governance” was a five-year plan – not a six-month, nine-month or one-year plan. He was responding to critics who were suggesting that the PLP government was a failure because it had not solved all of the problems it inherited in one year.
He reasoned with party supporters that the Lord would not lead the PLP to victory in Elizabeth and North Abaco bye-elections and the 2012 General Election only to abandon them at this stage.
He called on them to have faith and to strengthen their resolve, to “stiffen your spine” and not become weak kneed. He assured the faithful that things are happening in Eleuthera, Bimini and Grand Bahama and that job opportunities and economic conditions will improve – not as fast as some would like them to, but they are happening, he said.