DPM: Govt. ‘cautiously optimistic’ about revised fiscal projections

DPM: Govt. ‘cautiously optimistic’ about revised fiscal projections
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance K Peter Turnquest

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Government remains ‘cautiously optimistic’ it will beat its revised fiscal projections, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance K Peter Turnquest said yesterday.

Speaking with reporters ahead of a Cabinet meeting, Turnquest noted the nation continues to see positive results from the tourism sector hat despite Hurricane’s Dorian significant impact on the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama.

“We are cautiously optimistic we will beat our revised projections,” she said.

We prefer to be conservative in that and plan for the worse case and do better than  anticipated.

When Parliament resumes today the government will table a resolution to borrow $50 million from the Caribbean Development Bank to finance Hurricane Dorian recovery efforts.

“The loan is expected to supplement lost income and hurricane expenditure as a result of the Category 5 storm result.

Rurnquest  noted that the fiscal deficit had  ballooned to $677.5 million as a result of the deadly storm, which prompted the Minnis administration to borrow $507.9 million to address the shortfall.

The economy according to the government’s Fiscal Strategy Report was expected to grow by 1.7 percent in 2020 but is now projected to contract next year by 0.6 percent because of anticipated weakness in tourism activity in the first half of 2020.

For this fiscal year, the government projects revenue loss of $236 million and an expenditure increase of additional $302.6 million.

Turnquest said the government will continue to pay close attention to the country’s fiscal position and assess whether it can offer any further relief such as tax concessions.

“We will look at it again to see where we are and how we can maybe give some further relief in that regard.

“At the end of the day we have to be sure that we continue to manage our fiscal situation and do not create an environment where we put the the stability of our financial situation at risk by trying to overly compensate on one issue.

Turnquest said: “The fact of the matter is that the cost of this hurricane is significant. It will result in a bump in government expenditure.