Bowe: Despite IMF report, Bahamas still walks a “fine line”

Bowe: Despite IMF report, Bahamas still walks a “fine line”
Gowon Bowe

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Despite a recent review by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which commended the government for several key policy initiatives, Gowon Bowe, the Chief Financial Officer at Fidelity Bank said the country still walks a fine line towards a promising economic state.

“While it was a relatively upbeat synopsis of the visit, it really highlighted that we have things that they are placing reliance on us to get done,” Bowe told Eyewitness News Online on Monday.

“Their pre-visit is likely centered around one, the availability of information; two, the progress made since the formal full visit and three; the plans for the coming months.”

Last week Finance Minister Peter Turnquest noted that the government will continue to stay the course with its fiscal strategy to boost economic growth.

Yesterday, Bowe explained that before the next IMF report is released, the government needs to have documented financial records in place as a report by the IMF should only be validation to what the country already has recorded.

“What we need to make sure is that we have a documented plan that we ourselves are monitoring,” he said. “That we ourselves are evaluating how we have either met the milestones or delayed or differed so when outside observers come along we already have the pitch that we have already made.”

The IMF Mission outlined key economic indicators in its report, which stated that the Bahamian economy continued to recover, with real GDP growth projected to reach 2.3 per cent in 2018 and 2.1 per cent in 2019.

It outlined that the fiscal deficit narrowed from 5.5 per cent of GDP in fiscal year 2017 to an estimated 3.3 per cent in fiscal year 2018.

The IMF Mission said in the budget for fiscal year 2019, the government committed to further fiscal consolidation, targeting an overall deficit of 1.8 per cent of GDP.

The IMP further stated that as of June 2018, the average capital to risk-weighted assets ratio across domestic institutions was 34 per cent, above the regulatory target ratio of 17 per cent.

The Mission also revealed that non-performing loans declined to 9.6 per cent of total loans, from 12.3 per cent a year earlier.

Finance Minister Peter Turnquest said the government plans to stay the course with its fiscal strategy to boost economic growth, strengthen the fiscal balance and increase transparency and government accountability.