NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis announced plans for another tour of the country to gauge the public’s input on the national budget.
The prime minister did a similar tour to explain the 2018/2019 budget and the reasoning for the government’s increase in value-added tax (VAT) from 7.5 percent to 12 percent.
Minnis traveled to Blackpoint, Exuma on Tuesday to give a progress report of the governments work.
The prime minister said he told those residents that the government is in the process of starting the budget, and he wants to hear from them about their five priority items.
He warned that these priorities must take in consideration the economic impact of Hurricane Dorian and the now global pandemic of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Minnis added that even though five suggestions may be submitted, only a few may be prioritized.
He said those suggestions will be discussed and he will later inform which of those suggested would be accommodated and why the government is unable to accommodate the others.
“They were very receptive and they were happy, because it’s the first time in their life and in the history of The Bahamas that I know, that a prime minister is traveling to each and every island and community and asking them for their input in the national budget,” Minnis said.
“After all, it’s their money that we used, though it may be small, it’s their money.”
He also noted that he has instructed the Minister of Finance to create models reflecting a 10 percent and 20 percent decrease in the country’s revenue stream.
The models will determine what adjustments can be made to the budget, “taking into the consideration that we must at all costs protect the poor, marginalized and indigent”.
At the time of the prime minister’s 2018 tour, the opposition criticized Minnis’ moves, insisting that he was campaigning on the public purse.
Minnis had informed Opposition Leader Philip Brave Davis that the government would fund his travel throughout the Family Islands to provide Bahamians the opposition’s views on the budget.