Cooper: Don’t sugarcoat economic realities facing the country

Cooper: Don’t sugarcoat economic realities facing the country
Chester Cooper

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) deputy leader and Opposition finance spokesman yesterday urged the government to be forthright in forecasting its financial needs and not “sugarcoat” the economic realities the country faces.

Cooper pointed to recent comments by international credit rating agency Moody’s, which said it expects the government’s gross borrowing requirements will likely hit $2 billion.

Moody’s said:  “Even if there is a degree of under-execution in the capital expenditure plan, the fiscal deficit will widen substantially, reaching 11 percent of GDP in 2020/21 and pushing gross borrowing requirements to 16 percent of GDP, or around $2 billion, given the debt repayment schedule.”

Cooper continued: “We note that the government is still stubbornly sticking to its forecasts of $1.3billion. Had this not been such a dire set of circumstances we would say, “I told you so.”

“In March, we forecasted the same and advised the government “to go hard and to go early”. By being reactive they will cost the Bahamian people handsomely. For example, we forecasted that in the recent $600 million loan the Bahamian people will pay at least $200 million more over the life of the loan than they would have, had borrowing taken place earlier. The price is more than the Bahamian people should have to pay.”

Cooper argued that decisions made today will have a generational impact on the value of the Bahamian dollar, the sustainability of the Bahamian economy, and the way of life for its citizenry.

“We call on this government to be forthright and truthful in the forecasting of the government’s financial needs without any attempt to underestimate or sugarcoat the realities,” he said.

“Reports of many of its programs running out of money tell the current reality. Crisis management requires vision, forecasting, and strategy. We renew our call for a debt management committee to assist the government in managing, structuring, and negotiating its current and future debt,” he said.