NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Government plans to amend the law that requires the Fiscal Strategy Report to be presented to Parliament before the data is released to the public.
The Ministry of Finance yesterday noted that both the 2021 Fiscal Strategy Report and Medium-term Debt Management Strategy will be delayed and that both reports will be tabled immediately after the passage of the 2021/22 Supplementary Budget.
The Ministry noted that each year, according to the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2018 the Government is required to present to Parliament its Fiscal Strategy Report on or before the third Wednesday of November.
This year, the deadline for tabling was November 17, 2021; however, Parliament has been adjourned until November 29, 2021.
The Fiscal Strategy Report is required to include, amongst other things estimates of revenues by type; aggregate expenditures by economic, administrative, and functional classifications; fiscal balance for the overall budget; a summary of the sources of budget financing; and the level of debt by an external source, domestic source, and total. In tandem with the presentation of the Fiscal Strategy Report, the Public Debt Management Act, 2021 requires the tabling of a Medium-term Debt Management Strategy.
“The debate on the FY2021/22 Supplementary Budget has not yet been completed and is scheduled to commence the week of November 29, 2021,” read the ministry statement.
“As a result, the revised estimates of revenue and expenditure for the FY2021/22, which establishes the baseline for the Fiscal Strategy Report, have not been legitimized by the Parliament.”
The statement continued: “The Government remains committed to the tenants of fiscal transparency and accountability in the management of public finances. There should be no requirement that critical fiscal data be presented first to Parliament before it can be released to the public. The Government would seek to change this requirement as soon as possible to promote transparency in public finances.
“While The Bahamas continues to battle the very fluid nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, we also seek to ensure that our fiscal forecasts and estimates are prepared in a responsible manner. Both the FY2021 Fiscal Strategy Report and the Medium-term Debt Management Strategy will be tabled and debated in the Parliament immediately after the passage of the FY2021/22 Supplementary Budget.”