|PM says jobs program was ‘scandalous’|
Guardian Senior Reporter
Published: Sep 19, 2012
The Ingraham administration’s temporary jobs program was a “scandalous” tactic to employ people, some of whom collected a check, but did not work, Prime Minister Perry Christie said yesterday.
Christie was responding to Deputy Leader of the Free National Movement (FNM) Loretta Butler-Turner, who recently said the Ingraham administration’s policies, including its 52-week jobs program, were behind a dip in unemployment figures.
However, the prime minister said he is focused on stimulating job creation, not engaging in political games.
“When the PLP was last in power, we created 22,000 jobs,” he said.
His jobs claim has been disputed, however, as numbers from the Department of Statistics show that 18,000 new jobs were created during Christie’s previous term, between 2002 and 2007.
“We’ve come to power again to do the same thing,” he told reporters before heading into a Cabinet meeting. “It’s not a question of me playing politics over a point here or there; there are too many people unemployed in The Bahamas.
“It’s scandalous that the FNM decided to use the kind of stimulus package that they did in giving people jobs that they could not account for where people are turning up saying they [have] come for their money, but they are not working.
“We need to have a real effort at being able to have a meaningful employment program implemented. But while we’re doing that we’re trying to drive the private sector, direct foreign investment, Bahamian investment.”
Numbers released by the Department of Statistics on Friday show that the rate of joblessness fell from 15.9 percent to 14.7 nationwide.
In New Providence, the rate dropped from 15.1 to 14 percent, and in Grand Bahama it fell from 21.2 to 17.3 percent. The survey was taken in May. The reference week was April 23 to April 29, 2012.
The previous survey was taken November 2011.
Director of Statistics Kelsie Dorsett said on Friday that there are several contributing factors to the decrease in unemployment, including the temporary jobs program launched by the former administration.
“Usually when you see a decline in unemployment, it sort of gives you the feeling that ‘hey, things are starting to recover’, but I wouldn’t look into that in isolation at this point in time, because of the time when this survey was taken,” Dorsett told The Nassau Guardian.
“I think it would be premature to really look at it and make that determination. What we do know is that sometimes when policies are put in place it takes a lag before you see the results of that policy, like the 52-week job training program.”
The program was introduced by the Ingraham administration and employed over 3,000 people.