By KHRISNA VIRGIL
Tribune Staff Reporter
WHILE he said the Free National Movement would not question the veracity of the Department of Statistics’ latest unemployment figures, party leader Dr Hubert Minnis noted that the agency is “controlled” by a government that prides itself on “cover-ups” and “embellishments”.
The Killarney MP added that the current unemployment statistics prove once again that the government is long on rhetoric and promises and short on delivery and integrity.
He was speaking of the Progressive Liberal Party’s election campaign promise to create 10,000 jobs within its first year in office and to create an additional 40,000 employment opportunities by 2017.
Dr Minnis, in a press statement, sought to bring his party’s perspective to the department’s latest statistics released last week which revealed that the lay offs of more than 2,000 Baha Mar employees in October contributed to a 2.8 per cent increase in the country’s unemployment rate pushing the national figure to 14.8 per cent.
“The present reality for the Commonwealth is that the Christie administration has proven itself to be an appalling steward of the Bahamian economy, and by extension, the ship of state,” the press statement read. “We will not question the veracity of the statistics relative to the professionalism of the department’s statisticians. We note, rather, that the Department of Statistics is an entity controlled by a PLP government that prides itself on cover-ups and embellishments.
“As such, the Free National Movement must provide additional perspective to the broader implications of the recently revealed statistics. The comparative aspects of the statistical data purport a decrease in unemployment between November 2014 and May 2015 (from 15.7 per cent to 12 per cent),” Dr Minnis said, referring to statistics from the department earlier this year.
“We echo the admission that this decrease was due to the injection of over 7,000 phantom jobs into the economy, in the lead up to Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival. As a result, this decrease in the unemployment rate was merely ephemeral. Were these phantom jobs not factored into the statistics, the unemployment rate would have remained consistently over 15 per cent during both previously referenced periods of analysis.”
He continued: “In another instance, the statistics reveal a significant decrease in the number of discouraged workers between May 2015 and November 2015. It is stated that the number of discouraged workers decreased by a whopping 30.3 per cent during the period from 3,950 to 2,750. Unfortunately, as the Bahamian economy continues to stagnate under this Christie administration, it is expected that the number of discouraged workers will increase as dramatically as it is claimed to have decreased.
“In final analysis, the current unemployment statistics prove once again that we have a government that is long on rhetoric and promises and short on delivery and integrity.
“It further proves their inability to lead a country poised for 21st century progressive thinking and development. Conversely, this government’s claim to fame is their historical affinity for producing mediocre governments and promoting blind political loyalties. In addition, this Christie administration appears quite comfortable governing through excuses, finger pointing, blame games and public relations spin doctoring while ignoring the fundamental tenets of accountability, responsiveness, consensus and transparency.”
According to statistics, a little more than 20,000 jobs were added to the economy since the PLP came to office in May of 2012.
Dr Minnis insisted that with 2017 on the horizon it was virtually impossible that the “inept” PLP government could facilitate an additional 30,000 jobs.
He said a newly elected FNM government would place an immediate laser focus on full economic empowerment.
“We will embrace an innovative programme of entrepreneurship that will allow scores of Bahamians to live out their dreams of owning jobs rather than having jobs. For those who have jobs, we will ensure that they continuously upgrade their skills through professional development and training opportunities. This will enable them to optimally perform in their current positions, and prepare them for promotional and other employment opportunities in the future.
“In the midst of these scary unemployment statistics, this PLP government is hell-bent on downplaying the full extent of our economic and unemployment woes. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the Bahamian electorate to judge them according to their works or lack thereof. Nearly four full years after giving them the mandate to govern, they have failed miserably. They have been thoroughly assessed and have been found wanting. The Bahamas is in desperate need of change,” Dr Minnis said.