|Laing defends former govt on pre-election contracts|
Guardian Senior Reporter
Published: Jun 22, 2012
The Free National Movement (FNM) administration only signed nine public works contracts worth about $1 million after Parliament dissolved in the weeks before the May 7 general election, Opposition Senator Zhivargo Laing said in the Senate yesterday.
Laing was responding to repeated criticism from the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) that the Ingraham administration used the public treasury to buy votes.
Deputy Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis has said the former government gave out around $23 million in contracts in the weeks leading up to the election.
Laing invited the government to show where his figures on contract awards were incorrect.
He said the first Christie administration awarded pricey contracts and government jobs just before the 2007 election. He chastised the PLP for its “hypocrisy”.
“The deputy prime minister says that the FNM signed 72 contracts worth $21,703,954.97,” Laing said.
“Even if this were so it has to be hypocritical for a group who [gave a contract] signed weeks before the general election of 2007 valued at $23 million.
“If that isn’t the pot calling the kettle black, I don’t know what is,” he said.
Laing said the PLP should be the last to speak about public service hiring on the eve of an election. He said the former Christie administration hired more people between January and April 2007 at the National Insurance Board “than had been hired in the entire five years prior”.
Laing said that between March and May 2007 the former Christie administration hired dozens of general service workers on short-term contracts in the MICAL constituency.
Prime Minister Perry Christie has said his administration will bring legislation which would prohibit the government from signing employment contracts or paying out public funds between the dissolution of Parliament and the next election unless an independent statutory body deems these contracts essential.