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Christie Quizzed On 1st 100 Days

The Progressive Liberal Party government of Prime Minister Perry Christie is being given mixed reviews for its accomplishments in its first 100 days in office.

Mr. Christie, in an interview on Island FM's radio talk show "Parliament Street" on Sunday, was hard pressed to point out the achievements of his government so far.

When asked to summarize his first 100 days, the prime minister said, "Firstly, I am very excited about the work of my government. I have been very fortunate in being able to have a cabinet and now joined by parliamentary secretaries, people who are eager to impact positively on the affairs of this country.

"We are looking at the traditional industries and we are looking to exploit other industries or develop other aspects of our national life."

While saying that he looked forward to the future with great optimism, Mr. Christie was short on specifics regarding his accomplishments in the first 100 days in office.

In recent weeks, the prime minister has been criticized for not sticking to deadlines he set during the recent general election campaign.

Mr. Christie again defended himself for taking more time to fulfil his promises.

"I am not at all thwarted or discouraged by the fact that there are people who are saying these things. I expect that," he said.

"I believe the country will see, beginning in the October legislative period, our effort to begin the process of implementing 'Our Plan.' We have to be sensible," he added.

Mr. Christie said he plans to carry out all election promises, including the appointment of a Constitutional Review Commission and the revitalization of the tourism industry.

The prime minister's performance so far has been poor, according to two opposition Members of Parliament who feel it is a "worrying sign" that Mr. Christie is ignoring his own set deadlines.

"They've been doing lots of profiling, lots of talking. They've monopolized the news," said Alvin Smith, opposition leader in the House of Assembly. "Their way of governing is just talking. They're not doing very much."

Mr. Smith said Mr. Christie and his government are ill-prepared to govern and are spending too much time witch hunting.

"Each government is likely to make some mistakes," he said. "But we would hope that the successive government would correct them. I don't see any steps being taken by this new government to correct whatever shortcomings they may have found."

Mr. Smith said he believes that Mr. Christie is consulting too many people before making decisions.

"There is much to be concerned about," he said. "God help us. I certainly hope there is no emergency."

Mr. Smith said the country would be in trouble if the PLP Government was confronted with an urgent situation like that faced by the FNM administration four days after coming to power on August 19, 2002. The new government's first emergency, Hurricane Andrew, demanded quick action.

"They will not be able to respond to such an event in an expeditious way," Mr. Smith said. "I certainly don't believe so."

The FNM MP for Montague Brent Symonette had a simple message for Mr. Christie. "Lead leader, lead," Mr. Symonette said.

"I think the prime minister has been very slow," he said. "Certainly, he has received a lot of criticism on his appointment of various government boards. It seems that it has rattled his cage a little bit because he gets irate and seems to lash out at the press in church services and other places."

Inaction is not a good sign for the new leader, he said.

"You should know your people in your country and who you want to appoint to these boards and get to it and do it right away," Mr. Symonette said.

The delays in announcing boards is indicative of what the government will be like in times to come, he said.

"It seems that in the first 100 days, most of his other ministers are doing a lot of the work and we are not seeing a lot from the prime minister," Mr. Symonette said. "If that's his style, fine. But I think they need to be proactive. The time is over for blaming the FNM. Bring in your policies and move forward."

There was much talk today about Mr. Christie's performance on "Parliament Street."

On Love 97's "Issues of the Day" with host Jeff Lloyd, some callers slammed the prime minister for being "long on words, but short on actions."

Other callers, however, said 100 days was too short a time to judge the government on its actions. Mr. Christie is merely laying the foundation for the sound policies that he will put in place, some callers pointed out.

"I think that the prime minister did exceptionally well [on the Island FM show] and I'll give him an "A," one caller said. "I think the government has done well given the odds that are stacked against it and the adverse economic conditions which it met when it entered power. So far, I think the government has performed up to standard and I would give them a "B."

Another caller said, "He's progressing slowly, I'll give him a "B." He's doing what he could."

Mr. Christie is simply re-hashing the former government's programmes, another caller said. He thought the prime minister needed to be more original in his actions.

Meanwhile, Felix Bethel, a political analyst who was a guess on "Issues of the Day," criticized the "Parliament Street" co-hosts Charles Carter and Jerome Sawyer.

"They had the questions and the answers and they prompted him. I thought they had a wonderful time together," Mr. Bethel said. "As far as being incisive, being critical, that's definitely not Mr. Carter's finest hour. And Jerome Sawyer disappointed a number of people."

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