NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Dr Hubert Minnis will table the 2020 Fiscal Strategy Report (FSR) during Wednesday’s sitting of the House of Assembly, according to a Ministry of Finance statement issued yesterday.
The statement noted the government is usually required to present the FSR in the House of Assembly by the third Wednesday in November, but that “given the unprecedented times, the government decided to take extra diligence in crafting its strategies, making use of the most current fiscal information about the planned reopening of tourism in November to inform critical policy deliberations about the FSR”.
Recently appointed Minister of State for Finance Kwasi Thompson will also “detail key elements of the report in the Senate, outlining the government’s fiscal strategy over the next few years with its focus on securing economic resilience beyond the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) and accelerating the pace of economic recovery”, the statement noted.
“During his presentation, Minister Thompson will also provide updates on the government’s ongoing efforts to respond to the COVID-19 crisis, including policy actions to provide ongoing assistance to Bahamians and communities in need,” it read.
Thompson said: “Our fiscal strategy looks at the macroeconomic picture over the next three to five years. It starts with where we are today in terms of our economic growth prospects, our current spending ability, capacity to generate revenue and debt levels.
“Today, these are all defined by the two unprecedented external shocks that rocked the nation of over the past 14 months. These shocks have caused us to act with a sense of urgency as we cannot take a business-as-usual approach.”
Former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest previously cautioned that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a tremendous toll on the economy, saying: “It’s no secret that these are some difficult times for the country.”
Last month, he said it was anticipated that due to the double whammy of Hurricane Dorian and COVID-19, the government’s fiscal consolidation strategy has been pushed back to two to five years.
Thompson, in yesterday’s statement, said the 2020 FSR “charts the course forward for where we want to be in the next few years”.
“It outlines how the government plans to achieve fiscal sustainability as quickly as possible, including policy actions to accelerate the pace of economic growth and key fiscal adjustments to mitigate risks,” he said.
“The importance of the fiscal strategy to our economic development cannot be overstated for strong, structured and disciplined fiscal management underpins our economic viability. Our approach will be to make the difficult decisions while also pursing innovation, training and encouraging local and foreign investment.”
The 2020 FSR will be available on the official budget website at www.bahamasbudget.gov.bs, the Ministry of Finance said.