Monday, Feb 24, 2020
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Laing points to challenges in getting GB economy on track

Responding to the latest round of layoffs in Grand Bahama, Minister of State for Finance Zhivargo Laing said yesterday that while economic growth on a national scale remains moderate, the northern island’s economy is still very challenged.

Laing pointed out that while the loss of jobs in Grand Bahama creates further challenges there is a global context to consider, and although economies grow through the facilitation of government, the private sector is the real driving force of the economy.

“It is obviously not good for the people that are being laid off.  It is never good news at any time that people have to lose their jobs, especially in Grand Bahama, coming during the holiday season and just before the new year,” Laing told The Nassau Guardian.

“It continues to reflect on the challenges that exist in our national economic situation, but also in the global economic situation, and so all of us have to continue to be very vigilant.”

Minister of Labour Dion Foulkes told The Nassau Guardian on Wednesday night that he had been advised by officials in the Hutchison Whampoa group that more than 60 people employed by the Grand Bahama Airport Company, the Freeport Container Port and the Freeport Harbour Company, were going to be laid off.

Laing said yesterday he attempted to reach the executives of Hutchison Whampoa to get more information on the layoffs.

He said the government has sought on every occasion to do all it can to bring economic stability to The Bahamas, including Grand Bahama, through a variety of investment promotional tours and economic initiatives.

“We sought to do a number of things in Grand Bahama to encourage this economy,” he said.

“We have sought to support those who have faced hardship in this economy, whether through the employment program, the six-month one and the 52-week program, which has engaged over 1,000 persons, and we sought to bring the unemployment benefit program to assist those persons also. The government has done what the government can do.”

The minister pointed out that Bahamians and the rest of the world have been faced with a “long standing economic depression”.

“Beginning in 2001 with the September 11 events, continuing with the passing of (Grand Bahama Port Authority Chairman) Edward St. George (in 2004), which resulted in a fallout between the owners of the Grand Bahama Port Authority, and that has had a major impact continuing on with the hurricanes of 2004 and 2005, and a global economy going into the worst recession since the Great Depression.

“All of those things combined have played a part in this continuing saga of pain and frustration economically for the people of Grand Bahama.”

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