February 26, 2015
Defending himself against opposition criticisms that he is delusional over his "unbridled optimism" regarding the economy, Prime Minister Perry Christie declared in the House of Assembly yesterday that between 7,500 and 8,000 new jobs will be created in The Bahamas by the end of the year.
"Mr. Speaker, the side opposite continues to suggest, despite evidence to the contrary, that promised jobs are not being realized "from various investment prospects," said Christie as he concluded debate on the mid-year budget.
"In fact, we continue to improve overall growth and performance, and employment continues on an upward trajectory.
"Mr. Speaker, I want to be able to indicate here and now that, in our discussions in this country, it has been acknowledged that we have created over 8,000 jobs. Mr. Speaker, today I'm going to give an account that in this year, we know now already that we are going to create as many as 7,500 to 8,000 new operational and construction jobs on things already approved. It is not luck."
According to the latest Labour Force Survey, since May 2012, 8,850 net jobs were added to the economy. Christie outlined investment prospects on Grand Bahama, Bimini, Andros, Abaco and New Providence that he said will generate thousands of new jobs. Christie shot down Long Island MP Loretta Butler-Turner's charge that he is living in a world of delusion.
"I would have avoided this except they said that I'm delusional, that my head is in the sky," he said. "Mr. Speaker, these are investors who are investing in The Bahamas under a Progressive Liberal Party government."
Christie said China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC), the new owner of the British Colonial Hilton, has already started work on a $200 million expansion project which will be completed over the next 20 months. Last year, CSCEC signed a contract to purchase the hotel and the vacant property to its west. Christie said the project will provide 200 new construction jobs for Bahamians and will support 500 new permanent jobs on completion, in addition to the current 277 staff employed at the hotel.
"Mr. Speaker, the only point I make is this: Does this sound like my head was in the sky?" he asked. "Does it sound, Mr. Speaker, [like] I was delusional? If you call me delusional, you obviously have a great familiarity with how people who are delusional operate."
The prime minister lambasted the opposition over its "vacuous" and "pitiful" criticisms over his government's work.
"All through this exercise, there has been a fundamental difference between the culture created by the FNM, where people were so discouraged -- maybe because of the recession, maybe because of lack of activity on their part -- but so discouraged they became institutionalized as a high number of discouraged workers," he said. "As a result of the PLP coming into power, as a result of our upbeat optimistic talk and our love for the country, our love for what we are doing, the people who were discouraged have now moved to encouraged workers and they therefore become a statistic, an unemployment statistic. It is a reality that we want to see because now we know what we have to address."
Nationally, unemployment stood at 15.7 percent, according to the latest Labour Force Survey, which references the period of November 2014. The number of discouraged workers decreased nationally from 4,880 in May 2014 to 4,560 in November 2014.
Christie also touted the 305 jobs he said were created as a result of the Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute (BAMSI) in North Andros. He said many spin-off jobs were also created in car rentals, mobile lunch meals, restaurants and food stores.
"The point being here in BAMSI is that everybody wins," he said.
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