|Once again the PLP Government proves that they have no plan for the governance of this Country|
|Wednesday, 18 July 2012 08:57|
Written by: K. Peter Turnquest, M. P.
Once again the PLP Government proves that they have no plan for the governance of this Country and for the future of the island of Grand Bahama.
It has been reported that the Government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas is seeking to convert property (former Island Palm Resort) recently acquired by the Public Hospital Authority, into a hostel for homeless individuals now supposedly occupying public beaches and living on the streets of Freeport.
No doubt, there are some who have fallen on hard times as a result of the economic situation and others who have mental and domestic challenges that may have resulted in some displacement.
We sympathize with these individuals but for the PLP to continue to promote that there are hundreds of homeless individuals roaming the beaches of Grand Bahama is an exaggeration at best. One wonders what the Minister of Tourism has to say about this largely unfounded claim as he goes about trying to improve the image and promote Grand Bahama as an idyllic beach vacation destination.
This is similar to the lack of sensibility that would have made the PLP think that placing billboards in high tourist traffic areas to highlight the murder rate was a good idea.The proposal to create a gathering place for the homeless directly in the heart of our city, next door to high-end professional offices and banks on the main thoroughfare is not a good idea. Could you imaging such a scenario in the heart of downtown Nassau?
It will be interesting to see the position of the Grand Bahama Port Authority and the Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce on this proposal and whether they and other civic organizations or churches were consulted prior to this announcement.
Let me be clear, I support any effort to assist those in genuine need and I applaud the government's attempt to assist with temporary accommodations however I am sure, that working with the Department of Social Services, community partners and the Port Authority, a more workable and sustainable solution and location can be found as there are many unoccupied apartment buildings throughout Freeport.
The Island Palm Resort is and was not designed for long-term stays as there are no kitchen facilities, no refrigeration facilities and no laundry facilities.
Maybe the government will share with the public the number of persons to be accommodated, the impact this proposal will have on the long-term alleviation of poverty on the island, the environment and the budget for this exercise.
I am sure a caring and fiscally responsible government would certainly have considered these important aspects before making such an announcement, to give a vulnerable people false hope and further tax our limited and scarce resources. As we know from other privately ran resort properties on the island, the cost of energy to operate a facility like this with an aging infrastructure and no potential revenue, will be a tremendous drain on an already stretched public purse.
During their time in opposition, the PLP complained about the so called "Stop, Review and Cancel Policy" of the then FNM Government. In this exercise however, it appears that they have not bothered with stop and review, they have gone straight to cancel. If it is a fact that the government has decided to cancel or delay the expansion plans for the Rand Memorial Hospital, this would indeed be very shortsighted.
As we residents know, our aging major health care facility is in much need of an upgrade and the previous government's plan to provide 180 new beds in a modern facility to complement the new A&E unit, was welcomed news to the northern region of The Bahamas and would have facilitated the development of a new field for Bahamian entrepreneurs in medical tourism.
Assisted living housing developments, patient care and coordination services, medical care and other associated careers could be a lucrative extension to Grand Bahama's economy with a purpose built facility.
Rather than complete the proposed project and create hundreds of short and mid-term demolition and construction jobs for Grand Bahamians however, and hundreds more permanent jobs to staff the extension of services, the Government though seems more interested in providing handouts rather than a hand up by empowering our citizens as is the policy of the FNM and its intention with the former plans for the property.
I call upon the Ministers for Grand Bahama and Tourism, as well as our parliamentary colleagues, to advise the government of this terrible mistake and to proceed with the plans for the hospital expansion, which is necessary to improve the delivery of care and look after the wellness of all residents and visitors alike (including those they are seeking to accommodate) and to help diversify our economy.
I would further encourage the government to focus on its promised mortgage relief program so that homeowners will have the opportunity to save their homes while they recover and to give our people a real chance at the ability to feed and empower themselves.
Newer news items:
Older news items: