Declaring the nation’s public finances are being restored, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis heralded his administration reducing the annual deficit in half during the first quarter of the fiscal year.
He indicated that while doing so the government has continued to make significant investments in education, entrepreneurship and anti-crime programs, among other initiatives geared toward improving the lives of Bahamians.
“We are dutifully paying off in a structured manner substantial arrears accumulated in the last several years,” said Minnis at the opening of the Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants Week 2018 at Baha Mar.
“This means more money in the economy and for Bahamians who have waited for many years to be paid money owed [to] them by the government of The Bahamas.
“We must not return to the years of wasteful and reckless spending that threatened to wreck our economy and our future.”
The government recently released a report on its budgetary performance for the first quarter of the fiscal year.
According to the document, the government recorded an estimated deficit of $52 million this quarter, a reduction of $56.6 million from the $108.6 million deficit registered for the same period in fiscal year 2017/2018
The report also shows that government revenue increased by $60.1 million in large part due to increased stamp tax and value-added tax (VAT) collections.
The government collected $199.4 million in VAT during the first quarter.
In the same period last year, the government collected $167.4 million.
Minnis said the publication of the budgetary performance document is in keeping with the tenants of the fiscal responsibility legislation his administration tabled in Parliament last month.
The government expects the legislation to drive down deficits and meet its targeted 50 percent debt-to-GDP over the long term.
The prime minister also said the government has committed to adopting by 2022 International Public Sector Accounting Standards, which involves accrual-based accounting standards.
As it relates to businesses and the ease of doing business, Minnis said businesses can expect to begin experiencing even greater progress as the government eyes adopting key measures early next year.
“The challenges of access to capital in The Bahamas is a common cry,” he said.
“While there are many factors contributing to this, the lack of quality financial reporting, and comprehensive business plans are some of the major factors.
“Accordingly, members of BICA must be a part of expanding capital market activity in The Bahamas. You must also help to educate the public that capital markets are not limited to public companies, but rather the entire process of capital raising.”
According to Minnis, central to his government’s vision is Bahamian ownership and entrepreneurship, job creation and the reduction of poverty levels.
He said while former administrations undertook various reforms to modernize the nation, a new era of innovation is needed “if we are to transform The Bahamas into a 21st century economy and society”.
He also touched on his government’s advancements in tourism, noting that greater diversification on The Bahamas’ tourism product will help to create greater economic benefits for micro, small and medium-sized businesses.