PLP hits out at FNM over GB layoffs
In the aftermath of about 70 employees of Hutchison-Whampoa’s operations on Grand Bahama losing their jobs Wednesday, the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) has accused the Ingraham administration of having a “lackadaisical” attitude toward the country’s second largest economic sector.
“Rather than being actively engaged with the major stakeholders in Grand Bahama to protect Bahamian jobs the FNM (Free National Movement) has been busy in Nassau lining the pockets of its special interest benefactors,” said Julian Russell, the PLP’s candidate for Eight Mile Rock, on the island yesterday.
“With five elected Members of Parliament and two appointed cabinet ministers responsible for representing the affairs and interests of Grand Bahama, it is unconscionable and disgraceful that the FNM government has stood idly by as Grand Bahama descends into an economic abyss and hopelessness among our people grows daily.
“This is because the wellbeing of Bahamians is not a priority for this FNM government. The captain is clearly asleep at the wheel and has been for four and one half years and now the officers are abandoning the ship.”
Minister of Labour Dion Foulkes confirmed the layoffs at the Grand Bahama Airport Company, the Freeport Container Port and the Freeport Harbour Company.
The 70 employees in Freeport were mainly middle management personnel and a few line staff, according to reports.
Russell claimed that the government has offered no plans or solutions to address the level of unemployment on the island, which stood at 15.4 percent during the last week of April, according to the latest labor force survey.
“As a result, many companies in Grand Bahama have closed under this FNM government in the last few years. They include: Fenestration Glass Company, the Home Center, Freeport Concrete, the Yamaha Dealership, the Bowling Alley, Stoned Crab Restaurant, three restaurants operated by Rick Hayward, the Native Hut Restaurant, Papa John’s Pizza, a McDonald’s franchise, and countless small shops. Many other businesses are operating with reduced staff levels, said Russell.
He pledged that the PLP would not be afraid “to face the complexities of its struggling economy with a bold and visionary, all encompassing plan”.
“From day one, as your new government therefore, we intend to aggressively implement measures which will put this island’s future back on a path to success, and create the opportunities necessary to put you back to work and play a meaningful role in this island’s local economy,” Russell said.
“The Progressive Liberal Party is committed to a holistic approach to turning the economy of Grand Bahama around. We understand that we must urgently take the initiative in crafting a successful tourism formula and attracting new investments to this island. Hence, we propose to resurrect and upgrade the Grand Bahama Promotion Board, as well as to ambitiously retool the Hotel Corporation so as to give the necessary support to smaller boutique hotel properties.”