Claiming that all the new jobs created since May 2002 were created by the Free National Movement, party leader Tommy Turnquest did what was expected last night – he slammed the performance of the Christie Administration, while again declaring it a “do nothing government.”
“The PLP is a government of show without substance,” said Mr. Turnquest, who brought the keynote address at a rally at the R. M. Bailey Park where he launched a campaign dubbed “Restoration 2007”.
“Let them know that thousands of Bahamians who get swing last time will pay the PLP back next election for their lies and empty promises,” he said.
The rally came one day after the Progressive Liberal Party Government observed its second anniversary in office, with Prime Minister Perry Christie declaring that he and his team remain on course.
Mr. Turnquest spent much of the time accusing the PLP of taking credit for the work he said was done by the Ingraham Administration.
Pointing to a number of resort developments on the Family Islands, including the much talked about Emerald Bay project in Exuma, Mr. Turnquest said the PLP “didn’t do anything to make any of that happen, just like they didn’t do anything to make Phase III of Atlantis happen.”
“All that was planned and approved by the FNM,” he said. “The FNM built or caused all of them to be built.”
In recent weeks, the government has been boasting about its housing record, saying that the PLP built nearly 600 houses in two years, compared to the fewer than 800 houses built by the FNM in nearly 10 years. But Mr. Turnquest sought to set the record straight.
“The PLP is building houses in existing subdivisions, many of which were planned and created by the FNM,” he said. “They are building without building permits and are not providing parks, or open spaces or commercial areas like the FNM did.”
Free National Movement Chairman Carl Bethel, meanwhile, said the government fell far short of its projection for the rate of growth of the Bahamian economy last year.
“Despite the government’s promise of 2.5 percent economy growth for the last budget year, the latest figures from the IMF show that the Bahamian economy last year grew by 0.9 percent,” Mr. Bethel said.
During his budget communication last May, the prime minister actually said that the International Monetary Fund projected real economic growth of the Bahamian economy of 2.9 percent its April 2003 World Economic Report.
Mr. Bethel claimed last night that, “Last year, under the PLP The Bahamas had the worst economic performance of any comparable country in the Caribbean.”
He also claimed that the level of Net Foreign Investment in the Bahamian economy fell from $400 million left by the FNM in 2002, to only $200 million.
Mr. Bethel again attacked the quality of governance in the country, saying that under the PLP the country is beset by “bad government and laziness.”
“There is no money in the Treasury, and while the government is racking up a record-breaking budget deficit this year, the people who could have paid good money to ease that pressure have been giving a whopping tax cut,” he charged.
Mr. Bethel said certain real property exemptions granted under the PLP Administration will provide significant benefits for wealthy persons like those who live in the exclusive Lyford Cay community.
But on Sunday, while appearing as a guest on the Love 97 Programme “Jones and Company” Prime Minister Christie pointed to real property tax cuts as initiatives that have benefited Bahamians who need them most.
“We have given all first-home buyers exemptions from stamp duty on their homes up to $250,000,” Mr. Christie pointed out. “We have eliminated real property tax for Bahamians up to $250,000…This has all proven already to have a direct positive impact.”
At the rally, Mr. Bethel also slammed the PLP on national security issues.
“The Police Force and the Defence Force are demoralized and unhappy,” he claimed. “They are under-funded, under-equipped, under-staffed and under-paid. The government does not seem to have any plan or strategic vision to develop and improve our armed and security services.”
He vowed that “when this one-term government is run out of office the FNM will aggressively grow the economy; attract real foreign investment, stimulate increased Bahamian investment and ownership in the economy, create jobs and empower Bahamians.”