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Roberts says Minnis echoing Christie’s plans

Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Chairman Bradley Roberts has accused Free National Movement (FNM) Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis of continuously “echoing” the plans of Prime Minister Perry Christie and adopting them as his own.

“As a member of the cultural community with aspirations for leading this country, Dr. Minnis’ latest comments on culture do not represent the change he claims to represent, a new vision, or a fresh perspective on national policy,” Roberts said yesterday.

“Dr. Minnis usually reacts to Prime Minister Christie, followed by a flip-flop, and ends up with him channeling Mr. Christie.

“It is clear that Dr. Minnis has no vision for culture or tourism because his initial knee jerk reaction to the debut of Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival was to cancel this cultural tourism event should he become prime minister.

“Years later he flip-flopped in classic Minnis fashion, claiming [he would] privatize the event.

“Well, with a significant reduction in public subvention, it was already clear that the prime minister’s mandate to the Bahamas Festival Commission was to gradually privatize the event so at best Minnis is haplessly channeling Prime Minister Christie and the PLP government.”

During an interview with The Nassau Guardian in May, Minnis said his government would focus more on Bahamian culture and would leave what’s “not ours” to the private sector.

In a more recent interview with The Guardian, he said the party would continue to support Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival as a private venture and channel only its marketing through the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“The people wanted it, so I wouldn’t scrap it, because I’ve always said privatize it,” Minnis said.

“I know quite a number of those involved who are pro-privatizing.”

Roberts said with only months before an election must be called, Minnis “continues to struggle in finding his leadership footing in articulating policies that support this new direction he keeps talking about.”

“Repeating what the PLP government has done, or is doing, falls woefully short of the mark as Minnis’ capacity consistently fails to match his unbridled ambition,” he said.

 

Jobs

Roberts also hit out at FNM Chairman Sidney Collie for his recent comments about the reported decline in unemployment being “skewed” by temporary construction jobs.

“In a parting shot, Dr. Minnis’ chairman should be ashamed of himself for attacking the work of civil servants in the Department of Statistics,” Roberts said.

“Having left the Bahamian economy in a wheelchair in May of 2012, Mr. Collie should be happy for Bahamians who secured gainful employment with the more than 31,700 jobs added to the economy since May 2012.

“While the PLP is happy for those thousands who secured employment, we know that there is much more work to be done on behalf of the Bahamian people.”

In an interview with The Nassau Guardian on Tuesday, Collie called on the Department of Statistics to consider making the distinction between temporary and permanent jobs.

The national unemployment rate declined just over one percent in the last six months, from 12.7 percent in May to 11.6 percent in October, according to the Department of Statistics.

The results provide information on the labor force during the reference period October 24-30, 2016.

“That is nothing to write home about because those numbers are skewed,” Collie told The Nassau Guardian.

“The temporary employment – reconstruction jobs, clean-up jobs, small repair jobs and some new construction [jobs] came directly out of the disaster called Hurricane Matthew and those jobs have a short lifespan. So, we have to wait…I would say six months to a year to see whether this 11.6 percent unemployment nationally holds.”

Collie said while he does not wish to cast aspersions on the work of the Department of Statistics, calling the staff hard-working professionals, the “politicians are using statistics to try to tell a story and it is a false narrative”.

Members of the PLP have also previously criticized the unemployment numbers released by the Department of Statistics while in opposition.

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