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FNM concerned over contract workers

Guardian Senior Reporter

Published: Oct 21, 2013

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The Free National Movement (FNM) yesterday expressed concern that more than 20 employees at the Business License Unit were let go on Friday after their contracts expired.

Peter Turnquest, the FNM’s shadow minister of finance, said in a statement the workers performed essential services and the issue is a cause for concern.

“Quite frankly, the FNM’s position is that the prudent step for the government would be to hold the line on public employment levels for a while longer, especially if — as the present case suggests — there is meaningful work for the people to do.”

Minister of State for Finance Michael Halkitis said yesterday the contracts of the workers in question expired earlier this year.

He said some workers will be rehired.

“For administrative purposes we decided to let all contracts expire and reengage some of the workers on a contract basis based on the need of the department and the past performance of the workers,” Halkitis said.

Turnquest also questioned why the government would spend money on advice from foreign consultants instead of keeping Bahamians employed.

Minister of Health Dr. Perry Gomez said recently the government had talks with a Canadian-based healthcare company and an international accounting firm on the implementation and cost of National Health Insurance.

“Such a move would not be money well spent,” Turnquest said. “Instead of keeping average Bahamians employed, the government seems prepared to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions of dollars, to study how they can impose yet another tax on the public.

“The new health charge would be in addition to passed-along new bank fees, customs levies and VAT.

“Given the considerable level of new and impending taxes already announced, the new health charge seems highly unlikely to fly. This begs the question of whether the administration should spend money on the high-priced consultants at this time.”

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