Cooper: FNM version of events “nonsensical”

Member of Parliament for Ragged Island and the Exumas, Chester Cooper and Deputy Leader of the Progressive Liberal Party, Chester Cooper.

Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Deputy Leader I. Chester Cooper said the drastic situation the Minnis administration has painted with regard to government debt, has been proven to be nonsensical, given recent upward gross domestic product (GDP) revisions by the Department of Statistics (DOS).

“A more measured plan to actually grow the economy, instead of slashing what will surely be critical areas of government spending, would be much more effective in shrinking the debt-to-GDP ratio,” said Cooper in a statement released Wednesday.

Cooper pointed out that, “the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has clearly stated once again, that Baha Mar is responsible for growth in the economy … adding 4,000 jobs to the workforce in one year.

“The current administration should feel exceptionally unaccomplished in failing to forward any economic policy within the past year that has benefitted this economy.”

Cooper also added that the IMF warned against bad policy decisions made so far by the current administration, including choking off capital expenditure and failure to address policy to stimulate lending among financial institutions.

“The lack of revenue reform measures is also clear, as revenue to GDP is only at 17 per cent; spurring additional economic activity is another sure way to improve this,” the statement read.

“It clearly demonstrates the damage done by this government to undo, through public sector disengagement, the work done by the last administration to enhance revenue collection.”

Cooper said he blames the Minnis administration for being irresponsible, promising tax cuts in line with its campaign promises, and a few more tax cuts and government subsidies they made up along the way, without articulating how any of it will be paid for.

Calling this a “grave mistake”, Cooper also said, he hopes the current administration will correct the zeal of an election victory and meet the realities of governing a country and managing a national economy.

“As far as the Fiscal Responsibility Bill is concerned, while I emphatically support a sensible, comprehensive approach to fiscal responsibility, the government should be wary of handing off to the Bahamian people, legislation dictated to it by large global financial institutions,” he said.

“Whose bright idea was it to only allow two weeks for consultation from the public on such broad government commitments to fiscal goals that will surely impact the nation?

“It must also be asked what the point of the legislation is really, if the government can simply waive its responsibility to adhere to it.

“Rather than create more bureaucracy and hopes for the Bahamian people and the public service to jump through, the Minnis administration should really focus on getting the economy going, with fresh foreign and local direct investment.”

Cooper alluded that Baha Mar’s success cannot do it all alone and that the government must, at some point, do its job.