The country is approaching a “massive” $8 billion debt according to Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest, who on Thursday evening said, the mismanagement of the previous Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) government has put The Bahamas in a dire financial situation.
At the Free National Movement’s (FNM) celebration of its first year in power, Turnquest said, the government spends more on servicing loans and paying interest than it does on “essential government services”.
In an explanation as to why the government borrowed $1.4 billion in its first year, Turnquest said, at this rate, the country is “unsustainable”.
“It’s like the PLP missed math class,” Turnquest said.
“They missed elementary. Once again, let me help them. I will draw a diagram for them. The government borrowed $1.4 billion over the last year. So $750 million went to existing debts, meaning loans already on the books – that became due in this year – we had to refinance and pay off those debts. The cupboard was bare and so there was no money.
“So another $400 million to pay off bills we found in the drawer when we arrived on day one, and these weren’t bills we could spread. They were demanded right then. People who worked had to be paid right then and there. They made no provision to pay. The remaining $322 million went to this year’s current deficit and that money wasn’t our budget. It was the budget we found in place.”
Turnquest said the government is working and he expects the deficit to be reduced “very soon”.