Halkitis says prior experience in Ministry of Finance will help him adjust to new role quickly
“We have been hit tremendously by the COVID-19 pandemic; our revenues are down and businesses have suffered”
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Newly appointed Minister of Economic Affairs Michael Halkitis said yesterday that the first order of business is to stabilize the country’s finances and establish a credible debt management strategy.
Halkitis, who was speaking to reporters after being sworn in during a ceremony at Baha Mar yesterday, said: “We have to get an assessment of the state of our finances and where we are at, what our obligations are medium and long-term, so that we can give the prime minister and the Cabinet a snapshot of our financial position and then we can begin to move forward with our plan and our strategy.”
He noted: “We have been hit tremendously by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our revenues are down and businesses have suffered. We have to take a look at our debt position.
“Our partners in the financial services industry — the banks — are telling us that what we need to do is come up with a credible debt management strategy, so the first order of business is to stabilize the country’s finances and put in place debt management strategy so we can decelerate the rate of borrowing and begin to move towards a more manageable fiscal situation.”
Halkitis, who has previously served as a parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of Finance and as minister of state for finance, said his experience and “familiarity” with the inner workings of the ministry will go a long way in helping him to get acclimated quickly.
“I am honored and happy to have this appointment particularly at this challenging time and have an opportunity to make a difference,” said Halkitis.
While he will not serve as the state minister for finance this time around, Halkitis said he will be working along with the substantive minister. He also foreshadowed wider stakeholder engagement, noting that his portfolio covers addressing the ease of doing business as well as digitization.