By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
THE Democratic National Alliance (DNA) yesterday urged the government to “get its act together” and either implement a job-creating economic growth strategy or “vacate office”.
Arinthia Komolafe, the DNA’s deputy leader, said of the slight unemployment increase unveiled by the latest Labour Force Survey: “The recently released preliminary results of the labour survey conducted in November 2018 confirm that the government has failed to adequately incentivise the private sector and stimulate the economy to put a dent on unemployment figures within our nation. Our people are suffering under an administration that failed to prepare for governance while in opposition, and assumed office without an economic growth plan.”
She argued that despite the “touted boom” in the tourism sector and record number of arrivals in 2018, “it is apparent that this has not translated into sufficient jobs for the Bahamian people during the referenced period”.
“The true state of the economy is further worsened when the loss of high-paying jobs in the financial services industry and the level of underemployment is factored into the equation,” said Mrs Komolafe.
“There is no empathy for an administration that has done little to alleviate the suffering of the masses, and refused to implement deliberate policies aimed at economic empowerment of our people. On the contrary, the current administration has increased the rate of taxation within a regressive tax system that burdens the less privileged and middle class.
“Bahamians may recall that the DNA had warned that the 60 percent increase in the value added tax rate to 12 percent would impact investor and consumer confidence while threatening the job security of Bahamians,” she continued.
“The government of blunders has invested millions of dollars of taxpayers’ funds in a dilapidated hotel and passed a Commercial Enterprises Act without anything to show for these initiatives. It is conceivable that the recent voluntary separation exercise at the Grand Lucayan will further increase the rate of unemployment in Grand Bahama, which is anticipated to be reflected in the May 2019 figures unless the current trend is reversed.”
Mrs Komolafe said the increase in the unemployment rate from 10.1 percent to 11 percent on New Providence was significant given that capital accounts for 70 percent of the employed labour force. “This rise far outweighs the minimal decrease in unemployment in Grand Bahama and modest fall in Abaco,” she said.
“The released statistics show that the government continues to fail the youth of our nation as unemployment within this important category stood at 23.1 percent in November 2018 when compared to 20.1 percent in May 2017. The unemployment rate among women was 11.3 percent when compared to ten percent among men; evidence of the lack of any specific focus on economic empowerment of our people.
“While we laud the spirit of entrepreneurship of our people, the 11.9 percent increase in self-employed persons between May 2018 and November 2018 could also be attributed to the softening of the jobs market and Bahamians resorting to starting their own businesses to make ends meet,” Mrs Komolafe added.
“We maintain that deliberate actions, steps and initiatives have to be undertaken to achieve the desired and target growth levels. This must entail a combination of fiscal, monetary and economic policies as well as social reforms. It is simply reckless and irresponsible to leave this to chance, luck or coincidence. On behalf of the Bahamian people, we petition the government to get its act together and implement an articulated economic growth plan or vacate office. There is too much at stake and our people have been suffering for too long.”