DNA, Poitier on Job Program, Employment
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
14 September 2011
The Democratic National Alliance (DNA) wishes to encourage Bahamians not to be fooled by the Government’s present short-term fix to unemployment, and begin demanding more economically sane programs with benefits for the masses of Bahamians.
The Bahamas has received a negative economic outlook rating from Moody, because of the Government’s excessive increase in debt over the past decade and in particular the past two years and no plan for economic growth to repay this debt or grow the economy.
DNA candidate for Kennedy and banker, Alfred Poitier explains, that while it is the Government’s job to provide opportunities for its citizens, they must be prudent with the purse of the country.
“The current job program is a strain on the purse of The Bahamas and is based on uncalculated possibilities—it is hoped that after you work for a year (and paid by the government) and if you do a good job, the company that you were assigned to may hire you.
“Yes, in the short-term 3,000 people will get salaries and, according to the program, some skills training. However, the reality is that these individuals have no guarantee after 52 weeks, except the promise that they will be eligible for unemployment benefit should the company decide not to keep them on staff. Again, additional strain on the public purse,” Poitier said.
He suggested that this program be reclassified as a social assistance program, as it has more social benefit for the government or the country, than economic benefit through job stimulation.
To prove his point, Poitier painted this picture for investing $25 million of taxpayers’ money: There are several issuing within the public school system, including overcrowding, outdated equipment and textbooks, lack of or dire need of technology upgrades for teaching purposes.
Likewise, government clinics and hospitals are unable to accommodate the large volume of people needing medical attention due to space and personnel shortage.
Poitier explains that as oppose to gambling $25 million and coming up with the possibility of nothing to show at the end of the day, the government could have constructed four schools in areas that are densely populated and insist that the contractors hire apprentices for on-the-job training. This way, Bahamians would receive employment assistance, job experience and a physical asset—the buildings.
In order to keep construction cost down, the Government could send to tender, publicly, the design, materials purchase, labor and a qualified project manager for the construction of these buildings, Poitier said.
“The schools should be kept around $2.5 million total cost, as we’re not talking about conventional construction or extremely large schools,” he said. “Technology has provided alternatives to accomplish awesome buildings at a fraction of the cost and time of the conventional construction process.”
Poitier continued in saying that the Government could then provide additional incentives for Bahamian students, who are studying or considering studying education locally and abroad, bonding them for a minimal period to teach in our public school system.
As a result, the government would have provided long term, guaranteed jobs for a significant amount of Bahamians, not only in the teaching field, but also as janitors, clerical staff, maintenance workers and others, and also immediate short-term jobs for construction workers, truck drivers, customs brokers and others, Poitier said.
More importantly, Poitier pointed out, the government would have added value to and began the modernizing process of our educational system with technological, state-of-the-art schools and technically advanced teachers.
As for the medical aspect of Poitier’s scenario, Poitier said the government could have looked at state-of-the-art clinics with inpatient care facilities for non-life threatening conditions in New Providence, Grand Bahama and Abaco, initially.
The total cost of these facilities should not exceed $4 million each. Poitier reiterated that with proper planning and coordination of materials and labor through a transparent tender process and a capable project manager, these projects should be within budget and completed on schedule.
Additionally, Poitier said extra incentives be provided for Bahamian students in nursing programs locally and internationally to entice them to work in the public sector in order to improve the delivery of service and care in our public health system.
The key is to create permanent jobs, as well as immediate short-term jobs, where the Government can attach an apprenticeship program, said Poitier.
The DNA believes that if the Government follows Poitier’s module, which suggest constructing four schools for $2.5 million each, three clinics for $4 million each and $3 million in incentives for education and nursing students; it would have invested $25 million providing short, medium and long term benefits for the majority of Bahamians as opposed 3,000 or less than 1 percent of the population of our country.
Although such an investment will result in additional expenses, Poitier noted that the return on an improved educational system and health care facilities is a definite need and must be addressed by government immediately.
Jobs for contractors, suppliers, consultants, teachers, nurses, doctors, sanitary workers, gardeners, security officers, truck drivers, road side lunch vendors, custom brokers and others would have been created for the short, medium and long term. Moreover, Bahamians would have something to show for $25 million and not just an addition to national debt.
“In business, you must be prudent in investing the funds of others. It is crucial to ensure that you get a favorable return on your investment and/or invest in appreciable assets.
“I agree that human capital is the most valuable asset to any country and that is why when we invest in our citizens, we must make sure that the investment is in an area that the masses can benefit,” Poitier said.
He further noted that particular attention must be directed to education and health care. If the government aims to stimulate the economy and create jobs, the best investment is that which benefits the greater population and not just a select few.
The DNA will continue its series of town hall meetings on Job Creation and the Economy on September 22 and September 28 in Grand Bahama and New Providence, respectively, at a venue to be announced at a later date.