DPM: Govt’s stimulus initiative put on hold

DPM: Govt’s stimulus initiative put on hold
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister. (FILE PHOTO)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister said yesterday that the government does not have enough funds to continue its stimulus initiative, which provided contracts for repairing sidewalks and parks and has put some projects on hold temporarily.

When asked about the ongoing initiative outside Cabinet, Bannister confirmed that several of the government’s capital works have had to be stopped due to the financial constraints of the pandemic.

“That does not mean they’re not going to happen,” he assured.

“What that means is we have to be very careful about how we spend the Bahamian people’s money.

“As we go along, we anticipate being able to do more of them.

“The ones that have started, we are going to continue. The ones that have not started, we have to hold back until there’s funding available.”

Bannister did not indicate which of those projects have been stopped.

“We have a worldwide pandemic,” he said.

“We have a worldwide recession that affects everybody. We created stimulus initiatives so that Bahamians could have the dignity of working. We had people [who] were not to work for six to nine months.

“…Our tourism industry was impacted, the result of which, all of the funding that we would like to have was not available.”

The public works minister explained that $100 million in capital works has had to be held back across multiple government ministries.

“That impacts us severely, but that is just what we have to do in these circumstances,” he said.

In September, the government had engaged some 200 small Bahamian contractors and allocated some $20 million for the construction of sidewalks and repairing of parks throughout New Providence.

Amidst public furore over the repairs of sidewalks, Bannister argued that the initiative sought to boost the economy and employ Bahamians who have been impacted by the COVID pandemic.