Govt. stands by actions, practices on fiscal affairs

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, K. Peter Turnquest.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said Wednesday that the Leader of the Opposition Philip Davis needs to stop making ill-informed statements, as he accused the government of not being transparent and labeled Turnquest the “worst minister of finance”.

The Cat Island, Rum Cay and San Salvador MP cited what he said was the deputy prime minister’s “incompetence, ineptness and actions”.

Davis also accused Turnquest of changing the way Central Bank reports its information.

“The member publicly questioned the information provided to this house by the Ministry of Finance, where he went on to imply that this minister has ‘attempted to change’ the way the Central Bank reports its macro-economic information; the way the Department of Statistics calculates its data; and the way in which the Ministry of Finance accounts for its disbursements and receipts,” Turnquest retorted in the House of Assembly (HOA).

“He did this all in the name of politics.

“I will no longer spend time in a futile debate over budgetary numbers with members of the opposition, who have the relevant information in hand to answer their own questions. They had numerous opportunities to seek clarity on all matters in the context of parliamentary debates and discussions. The numbers stand for themselves and I stand by them.

“I will correct the record on comments made about the government’s activities with respect to the Central Bank, the Department of Statistics and the government’s accounting system however.”

Turnquest confirmed the government’s practices proclaiming, “I can say without reservation that this administration has not and will not, ever seek to inject any political interference into the operations of the Central Bank, its critical role of managing monetary policy, or its reporting on all related matters. Any statement to the contrary is knowingly false, misleading and mischievous.

“I invite the member to clarify his statement on the information produced by that institution and the professionals engaged there, including the governor and the staff, in the same venue he sought to besmirch it.”

Moreover, Turquest affirmed the government’s accounting system will be moving toward a more accrual base.

“As of today’s date, there have been no changes in the method of accounting for Government receipts and disbursements. The Ministry of Finance will however make significant improvements in the accounting and reporting of public sector finances by moving away from a cash-based accounting system to an accrual-based account system.

“This move is long overdue and is widely supported in the public and private sector, including by the Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA). All such changes will be done transparently and have been previously foreshadowed by the prime minister. 

“The purpose of the changes is to ensure greater transparency and accountability in public sector finances. These changes will be done consistent with the International Public-Sector Accounting Standards or IPSAS, as well as other leading global protocols for the reporting of fiscal matters.

“Furthermore, the statements made by the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) leader, unfortunately, help to erode the confidence of our people as well as investors, bond holders, multilateral and ratings agencies, and does a disservice to our nation’s future.”