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Pinder: PM’s growth projections unlikely

Elizabeth MP Ryan Pinder yesterday questioned the government’s projections for economic growth this year, suggesting that Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham is far too optimistic.

In his mid-year budget statement last week in the House of Assembly, Ingraham said the Bahamian economy is expected to grow by two percent this year.

However, Pinder, who is a tax attorney, said during his contribution to the mid-year budget debate that that level of growth is unlikely to be achieved.

“Even the IMF(International Monetary Fund), whose numbers I believe are optimistic, forecasts a 1.5 percent growth in GDP. What is more concerning, however, are the inconsistencies in the communication when dealing with external risks such as inflation,” Pinder said

“It seems that there are misleading communications in The Bahamas on inflation. In one breath the prime minister states that inflation is forecasted to remain subdued; yet in the next breath the prime minster states that the price for gas and diesel has increased exponentially over the course of the last year, and especially as compared to the prices this time last year.

“We are witnessing fuel prices increase at the most alarming rate in decades right now, which has a direct effect on the cost of goods, gasoline, travel, almost everything. This inflationary pressure will have an adverse effect on the economic recovery of The Bahamas,”Pinder predicted.

The unrest in the Middle East is one of the main factors driving up the price of oil on the international markets.

Pinder said that with basic commodity prices rising, it is unlikely that local inflation will remain subdued as the prime minister asserted.

“Given our close ties with the United States, our pegged currency to the U.S., we should expect and forecast measurable inflationary pressures. What does this mean to Bahamians, in times where income is not rising, jobs are scarce, many are unemployed?The cost of everyday items could be on the rise,”Pinder said.

He said it is the responsibility of the government to anticipate such realities and put in place policies to counter the adverse effects of rising prices.

The mid-year budget offers no hope to the Bahamian people, Pinder argued.

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