Komolafe on employment: Govt needs economic growth plan
Deputy Leader of the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) Arinthia Komolafe said in a press release issued Sunday that the recent labor survey shows that the Free National Movement government has no economic growth plan for The Bahamas and that the numbers show a “deterioration in macroeconomic indicators” since the party came to office. She contends that had Baha Mar not come on stream, the jobless number would have been dramatically higher.
According to Komolafe, the employment statistics reveal an “absence of policy initiatives aimed at incentivizing the private sector”.
Joblessness in the country was shown to have decreased marginally in the second quarter of 2018, moving from 10.1 percent in November 2017 to 10 percent in May 2018, according to the Department of Statistics’ latest report released Friday.
The latest survey demonstrates that the size of the labor force increased at nearly the same rate as job creation, leading to stagnation in the unemployment rate.
“While this is not surprising for a government that lacks an economic growth plan, it is detrimental to Bahamians who continue to be disenfranchised and face significant hardship,” Komolafe said in her release.
“There is no need for political rhetoric in these serious times as the numbers tell the story.”
Komolafe said that even with Baha Mar’s large scale hiring over the past year, unemployment numbers remained stagnant on New Providence.
“The increase in the unemployment rate between May 2017 and November 2017 was attributed in part to the termination of 2,555 individuals from the public sector by the government in a struggling economy,” she said.
“The May 2018 report suggests that there has been no correction to the labor market as the private sector has not created enough jobs to compensate for these losses and new entrants into the labor market.
“Bahamians are waking up to the reality that electing a government without a plan in general and an economic growth plan in particular has serious consequences. It is simply impossible to tax and borrow our way out of our fiscal
predicament. Further, austerity without an accompanying plan to grow the economy could imperil the economic fortunes of a nation.”
Komolafe said the government needs to produce a viable economic growth plan that includes a way to reach the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) suggested 5.5 percent economic growth that would allow the economy to absorb new entrants into the workforce while cutting the existing jobless rate in half.
“Deliberate actions, steps and initiatives have to be undertaken to achieve the desired and target growth levels,” she said.
“It is reckless and irresponsible to leave this important policy making role of the government to chance, luck or coincidence. The Bahamas needs a plan that will ensure sustainable economic growth and insulate the nation from external shocks.”
She added: “The VAT increase and other revenue measures which came into effect on July 1, 2018 are expected to impact investor and consumer confidence while threatening the job security of Bahamians. This targeted assault on a shrinking middle class and anticipated reduction in the disposable income of consumers could further dampen demand to the detriment of an already fragile economy.”
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