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Govt hiring FNM supporters for 52-week job program

Amid soaring levels of discontent among Bahamians, The Minnis Administration is hoping to shore up political support by relaunching a 52-week jobs program aimed at securing jobs for Free National Movement supporters.

In an internal memo stamped URGENT and sent to family island administrators on Friday, The Ministry of Public Service and National Insurance advised that Cabinet approved the appointment of participants in a National Job Creation and Skills Enhancement Program (NJCSEP).

"It was agreed that the participants will be appointed on temporary month to month terms with effect from 1 June, 2020 by reason of academic qualifications and performance," NJCSEP CEO Sabrina Saunders wrote in the memo.

"Please be advised that in order for the Ministry of Public Service to facilitate the exercise, the supporting documents on the attached New Appointment checklist must be submitted for each participant recommended by various Ministries where participants are deployed within your respective Family Island," Saunders added.

The 52-week jobs program reboot comes seven months after Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis danced onto the stage at an FNM rally, billed as a public town hall meeting, and declared that the FNM "victory train" has left the gate and will not stop until it reaches Government House in 2022.

"Will you board the victory train?" Minnis asked the scanty crowd on that night in January.

However, angry Bahamians have labelled the so-called victory train more of a trainwreck, citing the government's failure to offer real assistance to Hurricane Dorian survivors as well as Bahamians' fight to keep their heads above matter in the midst of the seemingly never-ending covid-19 pandemic that has left thousands of Bahamians out of work.

Now, with the National Insurance Board unable to find additional funding for the unemployment benefit past September, Cabinet created the 52-week job program - rebranded as NJCSEP - in an effort to win over an increasingly bitter and disillusioned electorate.

All Family Island Administrators have been advised that this program demands their urgent attention and the government wants it to get off the ground as soon as possible.

Cabinet Ministers, who are desperately seeking re-election, will help to oversee participant recommendations.

"The official recommendation by the various ministries with supporting documents must be forwarded to the Permanent Secretary with responsibility for that Ministry," according to the urgent memo.

A similar employment program was started in 2016 by the former Christie Administration and faced scathing criticism from the Free National Movement government.

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