Financial sec: Govt. has enough ‘headroom’ for COVID-19 stimulus

Financial sec: Govt. has enough ‘headroom’ for COVID-19 stimulus
Financial Secretary, Marlon Johnson.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS —The government has sufficient headroom to cover the cost of its COVID-19 stimulus initiatives committed to to-date Acting Financial Secretary Marlon Johnson said yesterday.

Johnson was participating in a media briefing via Zoom yesterday.

He acknowledged that if the government has to extend the programs and exceed the current allocations, it may have to look at other financing options which would likely be under the new budget.

“We do have sufficient headroom to accommodate it,” Johnson said.

“Obviously there has been an impact of the closure of the economy. Certainly the month of April in particular we have seen a significant slow down in revenue. That notwithstanding we do quite a bit of cash planning and cash management to ensure that we meet the obligations.

He continued: “The simple answer is yes. This does put heavy cash demands on the  government but we have planned for it and we are in a position where we can accommodate it. Our plans obviously have changed and will change but so far we have been able to cover our obligations.”

So far the government has announced several initiatives to help combat the COVID-19 fall-out.

The government last month announced a $10 million allocation to provide for a temporary unemployment benefit. The government has also launched a tax exemption and tax deferral initiative to protect up to 10,000 jobs within the private sector. The government will forego some $60 million in revenue over the next three months. Among the other measures introduced is a $20 million business continuity loan program to assist small businesses.

Johnson also noted that  “without question” the COVID-19 crisis has pushed the government to accelerate its digitization agenda, which the government is working on in partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).