NASSAU, BAHAMAS- The Opposition has accused the Davis administration of being “fiscally irresponsible” and called on the government to stop the wasteful spending in the wake of the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) warning that the current fiscal year’s deficit will be “considerably larger than projected.
Opposition Shadow Finance Minister Kwasi Thompson in a statement said, “Again and again, the Opposition has warned this PLP government that its reckless and wasteful spending will worsen the country’s fiscal position at a time when rising revenues from a recovering economy should be moving the country toward a balanced budget.”
He added, “Now again, the IMF in its statement is now projecting that the government’s deficit for this fiscal year 2023/2024 will approach $380 million, which is almost 300 percent higher than the $131 million deficit in the government’s budget and medium-term fiscal strategy. This massive projected spike in the deficit is also projected by the rating agency Standards & Poor (S&P) in its September 2023 report on The Bahamas.”
Thompson questioned why the government has failed to publish the monthly and quarterly budget and fiscal reports.
“The last two required quarterly reports remain outstanding, as do the monthly reports from August, September, and October. It would seem that the Davis administration has been and continues to keep away the lawful reports of the shaky state of the public finances from their employer, the Bahamian taxpayer. Perhaps this explains why the Davis Administration has failed to properly constitute the Fiscal Responsibility Council – which has six reports outstanding some of which are well over a year late,” said Thompson.
Thompson called on the government to state whether the projections by S&P and the IMF are accurate are accurate and if it is true that the government is on track to blow the budget deficit target by almost 300 percent.
“The IMF also specifically expressed concern about the “renewed pressures on global food and oil prices” that burden lower-income households and expressed the need for well-targeted measures to help without adding further strain. We have raised this point time and time again. We say again, take VAT off healthy food and pay for it by cutting unnecessary spending and raising VAT on property transfers over $2 million,” said Thompson.
He added, “Surely, the government must stop the wasteful spending while the critical needs of the people continue to go unmet and at a time when they are projected to overshoot their budget deficit target by some $250 million.”