Unemployment in Grand Bahama is down, according to Labour Minister Dion Foulkes.
He noted that unemployment in the area had decreased since last May, according to the Department of Statistics.
While making his contribution to the debate on the 2018/2019 Budget in the Senate Thursday, Foulkes said the Free National Movement (FNM) government is working to revitalize the nation’s second city.
“Grand Bahama today is not in the best shape that it could be in,” Foulkes said.
“People are suffering. There is unemployment. There is a lot of hurt. A lot of families are suffering. The FNM government acknowledges that and we recognize that.
“We are working tirelessly, all of us, the whole Cabinet in our respective ministries to get Grand Bahama back to how it used to be. We want to put the magic back in Freeport and in Grand Bahama. We think that we will do it … and the evidence is bearing this out. For the first time in a long time, the last employment statistics showed that there was a decrease of unemployment on the island of Grand Bahama, for the first time in many years.”
However, Senator Michael Darville disagreed with Foulkes, asserting that under the Christie administration, unemployment decreased by almost 5.6 per cent before leaving office.
“The Minister of Labour in his presentation is misleading this place as well as the residents of Grand Bahama,” Darville said.
“In 2012, we met an unemployment rate in excess of 17 per cent and we brought the unemployment rate down in the 12 per cent range prior to leaving office.
“He is creating the narrative that while the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) was in power, we did nothing with the unemployment rate. It is wrong, it is misleading, it is incorrect.”
In response, Foulkes told the former Grand Bahama representative that he was referring only to the period where Grand Bahama had been affected by a hurricane and tornado. He went on to mention that since then, there has been an uptick in employment in Grand Bahama.
Foulkes mentioned a few companies on the industrial side namely Bahama Rock, Freeport Container Port and Buckeye, which he said have all increased employment by nearly 10 per cent. This, he said, is keeping Grand Bahama alive and going.
“The FNM government, the prime minister and deputy prime minister have been working closely with the stakeholders of Grand Bahama to ensure that Grand Bahama is revitalized. It has nothing to do with politics as the president (of the Senate) said. It has nothing to do with winning the five seats or retaining the five seats,” said the minister of labour.
“It has to do with families and lives and people having money to pay bills, and people having money to send their kids to school and send their kids to college and pay mortgage and pay rent. That is why we are here. It just so happens that if we are successful, we will be reelected.”
This article was written by GINELLE LONGLEY, Eyewitness News intern.