NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Government expects the real impact of reduced economic activity due to the COVID-19 pandemic to be felt in the late Fall or early Spring, according to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance K Peter Turnquest.
“As we go into the late Fall and early Spring, things will start to become more immediate for us in terms of having to look at making any adjustments because then we would expect to start seeing the real impact of this reduced activity,” Turnquest said outside the Churchill Building.
He noted that while government revenue for September is tending a bit higher than anticipated, its revenue yield is down significantly year-over-year.
“We went to Parliament for a borrowing resolution of $1.3 billion,” he said.
“Of that, we have to take loans of $500 million and so the balance of that $1.3 billion is still available to us. We would have indicated that we intend to come to the capital markets later this year for a significant borrowing, which will give us the balance of what we need to carry us through this fiscal year.
“So far we are holding in line with our projections. Our revenue is obviously significantly down year-on-year given what has happened, and the fact that our tourism plant remains closed.”
He added: “We are trending a little above where we thought we would be for this month. Of course, it’s still early in the reporting.
“We are overall in this fiscal year, from June to now, behind. We continue to monitor our expenditure, maximize our revenue yields, and continue to make adjustments as we go forward to ensure that we are able to meet our commitments.”
Turnquest said government had long projected that the country’s tourism sector would not ramp up until late Fall or early November.
“Unfortunately the major hotels have already announced that they will not be ready for that date. That puts some difficulty or delays some of the activity we anticipated would happen. We do hope some of the smaller properties and Airbnb properties will be able to pick up some slack or what we will lose by not having the major hotels,” said Turnquest, adding that government is still able to meet its commitments and provide the necessary assistance to those in need at this time.
“The government has made it a priority to ensure that we provide as much assistance as we can to the Bahamian people.
“We recognize that this is a difficult period for all of us and there are persons operating on the margins that find it more difficult because NGOs (non-governmental organizations) that may have existed before may not have the resources to be able to assist.
“The government is stepping up to do the best it can to fill this gap. How long we can hold it really all depends on what happens in terms of the economic realities.
“One of the things we are committed to is taking care of our people and help to avoid any Bahamian going hungry or shelterless.”