Member of Parliament for Central Grand Bahama, Neko Grant offered his contribution to the 2016/2017 Budget Debate on Monday morning in the House of Assembly (HOA) noting that there are a number of concerns on the minds of the Bahamian people with respect to issues relating to the island of Grand Bahama.
Prior to outlining concerns in the Budget Debate, Grant maintained that qualified Bahamians, eagerly seeking employment, are constantly being denied to work in the country of their birth.
“There are Bahamians in management positions, especially those in the Human Resources Departments, who are kicking Bahamians to the curb. They are also deceiving this government. How does a, supposedly, respected Bahamian, tell a qualified Bahamian with a Bachelor’s Degree that no vacancy exists, then turns around and makes application for a work-permit for an expatriate who has only a GED?
“Qualified Bahamians are being denied the opportunity to work in their own country, by Bahamians who are unscrupulous and who deceive the Labour and Immigration Departments,” Grant claimed.
He suggested that the government be more vigilant and also, closely monitor the “unacceptable practice,” one that he maintained two of his relatives experienced.
Speaking to the budget, Grant noted the various issues relating to the Island of Grand Bahama, one of which was the renovations to the Garnett Levarity Justice Centre.
“Despite my addressing this matter during my contribution in March of this year, the unfinished painting remains an eyesore.
“Mr. Speaker, the economy of Grand Bahama is on life-support. I am advised that Bahamians are being unceremoniously dismissed from prominent Industrial Corporations, under very suspicious circumstances. Earlier, I spoke of Bahamians in managerial positions deceiving the government and participating in the victimization of qualified Bahamians.
“Mr. Speaker, the employees at the Treasure Bay Casino in Freeport continue to work in less than favorable conditions. Needless to say, patrons endure the same discomfort.”
He added, with respect to the casino, four years ago, the Free National Movement (FNM) was criticized by the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) for the arrangements left in place, while they (PLP) government promised to find a new operator.
“Well, it’s been over two years since we were informed that the potential list of operators was short-listed and a new operator was imminent. I suppose they’re still reviewing the short-list to make a determination of which this new operator will be, late again.
“While on the subject of gambling the Minister responsible should be commended for shutting down the number kiosks in a food store here in Nassau. I sincerely hope that in Freeport, Grand Bahama he will ensure that the proper distance between gaming houses, churches and schools are adhered to without further delay,” expressed Grant.
Additionally, Grant stated that thousands of persons remain unemployed in Grand Bahama and, with graduations now underway, hundreds more will join the unemployment line.
“Promises do not pay mortgages, utility bills, school fees or put bread on the table. The good people of Grand Bahama demand action, so that the economy of Grand Bahama can raise from the shambles that it is in. The dignity of our people needs to be restored. They want to work so they can take care of their families.”
With respect to the Fire station construction currently underway, which nears completion Grant questioned, the following, “Mr. Speaker, will the Minister provide the scope of works for the new Fire Station at Freeport, Grand Bahama?
I) Will the Minister please provide the list of Contractors invited or selected to bid on the project?
II) Will the Minister provide the detailed bids of each Contractor and the in-house estimate?
III) Will the Minister lay on the Table of this House, a copy of the detailed contract executed for this project?
While work seems to be progressing satisfactorily on this structure, just over $2 million have been paid to March, 2016 versus the $3 million budgeted for this financial year.
It is suggested, as it has not been confirmed here that the project will cost some Six Million Dollars (B$6 million). So the estimates for 2016/2017 of Three Million Dollars (B$3 milllion) should suffice to cover the total cost of the project.
“Why is it necessary for preliminary forecast estimates of Three Million Dollars (B$3 million) in 2017/2018 and Three million Dollars in 2018/2019. This project should be completed during this up-coming Budget year, or are we expecting cost over-runs that this Government is not prepared to disclose? I look forward to a response,” stated the MP.
Grant also addressed his concerns with the Fishing Hole Bridge. He stated, ““Mr. Speaker, will the Minister kindly lay on the Table of the House, a copy of the scope of works for the construction of the Fishing Hole Bridge?
I) Will the Minister lay on the Table of the House, a list of Contractors invited to bid on the Fishing Hole Bridge and their respective bids?
II) Will the Minister lay on the Table of the House, the in-house estimate for the construction of this Bridge?
III) Will the Minister lay on the Table of this House, a copy of the contract executed for the construction of this Bridge?
“Mr. Speaker, having attended the contract signing ceremony, I’m aware, according to the pronouncement of the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Works (Phillip Davis), that a contract was executed in the amount of $6.5 million.
“The Prime Minister has declared that the bridge is expected to be opened by January of 2017. Six Million Dollars (B$6 million) was approved in the 2015/2016 Budget.
“According to the Budget, up to March, 2016 some Six Hundred Fifty-five Thousand Three Hundred and Fifty-eight Dollars (B$655,358.00) have been spent. Six Million Dollars is estimated in the 2016/2017 Budget. I question again, why is it necessary to forecast an additional Twelve Million Dollars (B$12 Million) after the bridge is expected to be completed,” questioned Grant.
Published Tuesday, June 14, 2016