Moultrie opines PM “must” call election before govt eyes more taxes in mid-year budget
Says he was told he left the FNM “at the right time”
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Speaker of the House of Assembly Halson Moultrie yesterday predicted that Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis will call a general election in June of this year or shortly thereafter.
Moultrie opined that the government cannot go beyond the mid-year budget exercise without finding alternative means to raise revenue in the form of more taxes, which would adversely affect its chances of re-election.
He said based on his circumstances, his experiences and analytical expertise, he “reached a conclusion that the election must be called very soon”.
“The circumstances are as such that the revenue generator of The Bahamas is basically in shutdown mode, so we don’t have any revenue coming in, comparatively speaking,” said Moultrie, who appeared as a guest on radio talk show The Hit Back with Nahaja Black.
“We were running a deficit budget even with the revenue at its peak.”
According to Moultrie, The Bahamas has entered “loan shark territory”, as he asserted that the country has maxed out its borrowing at preferred interest rates and cannot borrow any more.
“We have a circumstance where the country is going toward a general election, which suggests that the only other way to generate revenue is to raise taxes,” the speaker said.
“Now, tell me which party is going to try to go into a general election raising taxes on the people.
“So, we have a budgetary period coming in June.
“The government can’t go much further than June without finding some other mechanism to generate revenue.
“They can’t go much further than June, so I see the activities and it suggests to me that it’s possible an election can be called.”
Moultrie resigned from the Free National Movement (FNM) earlier this month, citing a “divergent and untenable relationship”, particularly with his stance on the separation of powers concerning the executive branches of the government.
Yesterday, he further explained that he felt an obligation and “urgency” to effect certain changes before a potential June general election.
“[There was] urgency to be able to get some of [what] I believe should be done before June of this year,” he said.
Ultimately, he said: “…I had a patriotic obligation to move myself in a position to be able to effect some of the types of changes that I believe the country can benefit from almost immediately and into the future.”
Moultrie, the Nassau Village MP, revealed that he asked Minnis about his renomination for the constituency earlier this month, and was offered an appointment in London.
“What I was told by the prime minister was that the party was looking at having some changes with some of the incumbents,” Moultrie said.
“I specifically asked him ‘was I identified as one of those incumbents that you were looking at’, and he indicated that ‘well, I have an offer for you’, which suggests to me that the answer was yes.
“So, I said what is the offer. ‘The offer is to send you to London.’
“So, I said to him, as far as I know, we already have an ambassador.
“So, he said: ‘Well, I have spoken with the appropriate persons to begin to prepare your instruments of appointment.’ So, I said: ‘Hold on. I haven’t been consulted on this.’
“You can’t make a decision to send me anywhere and make any appointment.
“I have a wife, family, businesses and so on. I have to make that determination. What if I decide not go? And his response was: ‘You don’t want to fight the party on this.’
“So, I decided not to fight the party and resign from the party because, like I said, no man is going to dictate to me what my future is.”
The speaker said after speaking to his wife following the meeting with the prime minister, he made the decision to resign.
He said: “I decided that I wasn’t prepared to let the prime minister ship me out of the country.”
There was widespread speculation that Moultrie resigned because of concerns surrounding his renomination.
Moultrie previously said if the FNM did not nominate him for Nassau Village, the party could be assured it would lose that seat.
He was vocal for much of the FNM’s term on the autonomy of the Parliament and more recently raised concerns about the poor conditions of the speaker’s office.
He eventually handed over the keys to that office last November.
Yesterday, the speaker said he knew there “would be some consequences” as a result of that move.
It was an apparent reference to his renomination.
As it relates to the election, Moultrie said unless there is a “miracle in terms of the turnaround”, the feedback he has received over his resignation was “man, you got out at the right time”.
But he said he has not heard favorable reports about the official opposition either.
He reiterated there were no plans to join the Progressive Liberal Party.