|Bannister: PLP failed to double investment in education|
Guardian Staff Reporter
Published: Jun 21, 2012
Former Minister of Education Desmond Bannister yesterday took the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) to task for what he said was its failure to live up to its promise to double the country’s investment in education.
“Promises are a comfort to a fool, but I keep thinking about what could have been done with that promised money that the PLP is now withholding from education,” Bannister said, adding that several schools need repairs.
Back in April, Fox Hill MP Fred Mitchell explained that doubling the investment in education would amount to an increase of about $22 million per year.
But the PLP did not specify when that increase would take effect.
However, Bannister said with “all the talk and all the double talk” the education budget only increased by $9 million over last year’s budget of nearly $268 million.
“The Bahamian people have a right to be disappointed by this turnabout. The PLP has even failed to live up to its revised promise of a $22 million annual increase which is what they said. Even the minister of education has a right to be disappointed,” Bannister said.
Education Minister Jerome Fitzgerald explained earlier this month that the education budget had to be revised due to the large deficit. The GFS deficit is expected to be $504 million by the end of this fiscal year.
Bannister said the government is also failing to keep the island clean and bring relief to struggling Bahamians.
“A critical issue arising on a daily basis is the deterioration of the standard of cleanliness arising on this island in the last few weeks,” he said. “It is absolutely disgraceful that the Government of The Bahamas cannot pick up the garbage on a reliable schedule. We have garbage piling up through our communities and all we can hear are excuses. I ask the government to please go to work collecting the garbage systematically so that our health is not compromised even more.”
The former government was also criticized for its inability to collect the garbage on a regular basis in some areas.
Turning to the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC), Bannister said the government has not announced any relief efforts for those people who are without electricity. He added that the government ought to pay attention to the corporation, which has recently been plagued by blackouts.
“Bahamians are already questioning the effectiveness of the new government. They want to know why this new government can not keep the electricity on. Island-wide blackouts have become all too common over the last few weeks,” he said.
The senator also called on the government to reconnect the poor people who remain without electricity.
As it relates to crime, Bannister said many Bahamians feel unsafe.
“I wish the minister and the minister of state [of national security] well. The pressure on them comes from the PLP politicizing the issue of crime which rises from many complex social factors in our own society and the truth of the matter is that all of us are in this together. And the real solutions are not going to come until all of us decide that we will deal with it,” Bannister said.