PM touts lower crime, more jobs as year-one achievements
Guardian Senior Reporter
Published: May 06, 2013
Reflecting on his government’s first term in office, Prime Minister Perry Christie yesterday touted a decrease in crime and unemployment numbers, but expressed disappointment that the mortgage relief plan has so far failed to help one struggling homeowner.
He said many of the Progressive Liberal Party’s (PLP) campaign promises could not be fulfilled in a year, but will be fulfilled by the end of the five-year term.
Christie suggested that many people are critical of his government because they are frustrated by unemployment.
“We’ve had a very interesting year where we’ve been able to achieve a lot of the goals that we set out to do, that one doesn’t see,” he said.
“People are so used to being able to say, ‘Well I have a job and therefore I can measure what has happened to me’.”
Christie spoke to The Nassau Guardian after a service at Faith United Missionary Baptist Church to celebrate his administration’s first year in office.
The one-year anniversary is tomorrow.
Among other things, the PLP said it planned to address crime, education, healthcare, mortgage relief, border control, job creation, gambling, financial services, the cost of electricity, taxes and Grand Bahama’s economy during its first year in office.
“With respect to firstly crime, unemployment, we are very aggressively addressing them and we have indicated we have seen improvements in both areas,” the prime minister said.
“Statistics show improvements in both areas. We know there is still a lot to do, so we are doubling up our efforts with respect to both crime and unemployment.
“We know that unemployment takes a little time to address.”
Statistics released by Commissioner Ellison Greenslade last month show that crime decreased by 13 percent between January 1 and April 14, 2013 compared to the same period in 2012.
There were 3,492 crimes reported during this period last year compared to 3,025 reported this year.
The rate of unemployment nationally dropped from 14.7 percent to 14 percent nationally, according to the latest labor force survey released by the Department of Statistics in February.
The results of the survey refer to the period October 29 to November 4, 2012.
In the previous Labour Force Survey, released in May 2012 and representing the period April 23 to April 29, 2012, unemployment nationally decreased from 15.9 percent to 14.7 percent.
Ahead of the May 2012 general election, Cat Island, Rum Cay and San Salvador MP Philip Davis said the PLP would create 10,000 jobs in the immediate term.
Yesterday, Christie distanced himself from that comment and said job creation takes time.
He said projects in the pipeline in Grand Bahama, Exuma and Eleuthera are poised to create employment later this year.
“Many people haven’t seen it or felt it yet, but we know that during the course of this year it will continue to manifest itself in the form of construction, building new buildings.
“It will manifest in terms of more people going to work.”
Last month, Minister of State for Finance Michael Halkitis admitted that the mortgage relief plan, introduced over seven months ago, did not help a single struggling homeowner.
Halkitis conceded that the government would “go back to the drawing board” and come up with a different plan.
Christie said he had a meeting last week with Halkitis about the plan and how many people now qualify for assistance.
“So it’s been slow, but it is happening,” he said. “Whatever levels of disappointment people are experiencing we have to, as a government, be one, content with the knowledge that we are putting in place policies that will have an impact in the medium term.
“Two, we must continue to execute because it will take at least five years to set the country on a path to where it was before.”