NASSAU, Bahamas: Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham has announced a plan to create 2,500 temporary jobs over a six-month period.
“We hope to accommodate some of the unemployed persons in our community who have skills but who are experiencing difficulty in finding employment in these tough economic times,” Ingraham said during a convention of his ruling Free National Movement (FNM) last weekend.
“It is intended for the employment to be temporary in nature. Persons will not be given any expectation that they will become full time government employees,” Ingraham said, noting that persons hired will be paid the government’s minimum wage of approximately US$210 per week.
Ingraham said the program will focus on a wide spectrum of jobs requiring different skills and while details have not yet been finalized, it is expected that at least three different programmes will be mounted.
“For example, a community development program might include projects and programs that will develop the community through education, improving our environment, agriculture, health care, housing, tourism, national security, social services and the economy at large.
“A Student Career Experience Program may be included to accommodate students who have graduated from high school, vocational/technical school or college. Positions will be available in the public sector and private sector organizations to allow students the opportunity to gain work experience in a particular field of study,” Ingraham said.
Ingraham said that consideration was also being given to a work-study program to assist students who are studying at the College of the Bahamas, or one of the community colleges in the Bahamas, and who are in need of financial assistance. The projects will be designed to pay those students for hours worked each week, allowing them the opportunity to complete their studies at the college level.
Ingraham assured that all Members of Parliament, regardless of political affiliation, will have the opportunity to employ people under the plan.
“It is likely that each Member of Parliament would be allocated funds to create short-term jobs, for example, improvements to government buildings and facilities. An allocation to each MP of, say $53,500 could generate 10 jobs in each constituency, or 410 jobs in total.
“The important message here is that your FNM government is engaged in an exercise to preserve and create jobs,” he said.
The Bahamian economy has been hard-hit by the global financial crisis, with thousands of workers having lost their jobs or have had their hours cut, especially in the tourism industry. The International Monetary Fund has projected that the local economy will stay in recession throughout 2010, contracting again by 0.5 per cent, though at a slower rate than the projected 4 per cent negative growth for 2009.
“Notwithstanding the difficult economic situation and the dramatically reduced revenue flow to the government we are not eliminating any government jobs; we are not even proposing to withhold the payment of increments…We are not the only country facing great challenges and we in the Bahamas are not the worst off,” Ingraham said.