NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Just one week before the government delivers its 2019/2020 fiscal budget in the House of Assembly, Opposition leader Philip Brave Davis on Sunday claimed that the Bahamian economy is ailing, and the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) has no confidence in the government’s ability to effectively manage the public finances of the country.
“We in the PLP have no confidence in the government’s ability to put politics aside and bring to parliament a realistic and practical budget; taking into account the reality of what is happening on the ground and literally in thousands of Bahamian households. We say again, the country would have been better off and better served, had the FNM left in place many of the policies they inherited from the PLP government,” said Davis at the PLP’s ‘pre-budget’ press conference held yesterday at Gambier House.
According to Davis, the government has missed critical fiscal targets for the last two budget cycles, and have failed to present realistic budget estimates.
“The finance minister and his Cabinet colleagues, led by the prime minister…are intransigent in their desire to abandon the well-considered plans for the modernization of The Bahamas, left in place by the PLP administration, so that they can essentially mortgage the assets of the state to the benefit of foreigners, friends, families and political cronies.”
The PLP leader said government’s revenue is also down because of the ‘ill-considered’ sixty percent increase in the VAT rate and because of government’s ‘meddling’ with the tax structure of the web shop gaming industry.
The Opposition leader also claimed that empirical data and objective research has revealed that there was over $400 million dollars in uncollected taxes and hundreds of high-end properties were unregistered while no taxes were paid on these properties.
“No explanation was ever given for his rookie mistake, but we, the ordinary Bahamian people, are paying the price for this today,” the PLP leader claimed.
In wrapping up his comments, the PLP leader said the government’s inability to meet its revenue targets has resulted in the government failing to meet many of its expense obligations on a timely basis. This, he said, is imposing a “secret and invisible” tax on businesses and on individuals who cannot afford it.
Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, K. Peter Turnquest, wasted no time to respond to the PLP on Sunday, noting that the former administration took the country to an economic brink and any government would have been reckless and irresponsible if it continued along this trajectory.
Turnquest said while operating under tight fiscal constraints, the FNM administration increased direct social assistance by over $600,000 in the last budget and made human development a top priority by investing millions in new initiatives directly for education, entrepreneurship and other programs for vulnerable communities.
He said the government’s focus on the fiscal health of the country allows the government to restore stability and generate economic growth.
The finance minister said instead of spreading misinformation and false propaganda, the Opposition leader should be guided by facts.
He said the Opposition has a ‘shameful’ record of uncontrolled spending, massive deficits, poor credit downgrades in five years with an accompanying junk bond status.
Turnquest said these facts alone should disqualify the PLP from commenting on the fiscal affairs of the country.
The DPM said the government will not be distracted by the Opposition’s desperate attempts to stay relevant and the government will be accountable to the Bahamian people when the facts are presented at the Budget Communication on Wednesday, May 29th.