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GB senator calls mid-year budget misleading

Progressive Liberal Party Senator Michael Darville yesterday accused the government of bringing a mid-year budget to parliament to mislead the Bahamian people into believing that the financial storm is over and The Bahamas is on the road to recovery.

“The instability in the Middle East and the price of oil approaching close to$105 per barrel[along with]land, air and sea transport prices rising are forcing many local expects to become cautiously optimistic about these preliminary economic projections outlined in the budget,”Darville said.

He labeled the year budget”a well crafted document”that hides much about the true revenue collection in the last six months of 2010.

When he presented the mid-year budget statement in the House of Assembly last month, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham reported that relative to the corresponding period in fiscal year 2009/2010, revenue collections in the first six months of 2010/2011 were down by approximately$50 million.

He noted that the economy has not fully recovered from the global economic downturn.

Speaking in the Senate yesterday, Darville said,”I fully understand that the country has switched into the election mode, but[in]this present economic climate, Bahamians want to know what is the government’s economic plan for job creation and the government’s strategy to foster the entrepreneurial spirit throughout our country once again.”

He said Bahamians want to work and not rely on a”broken, underfunded, ineffective”social service program.

But leader of government business in the Senate Dion Foulkes charged that the social services program is effective especially since$3.8 million is being pumped into it as a result of the mid-year budget.

Darville, however, noted that despite the funds, people in Grand Bahama are still suffering.

Foulkes indicated there is sufficient funding to meet the demands of Grand Bahama residents.

Darville noted that there are thousands of Grand Bahamians who are out of work and are finding it hard to make ends meet.

He called on the government to start representing the needs of the people and not the government’s needs.

“I am saddened to observe the misguided management of the country’s scarce financial resources. It appears that many of our cabinet ministers live in a protected artificial environment and because of the tunnel vision nature of their policies they cannot see or feel the devastation and hopelessness of the vulnerable, the poor or the unemployed,”Darville said.

He called for the government to immediately stop what he called excessive borrowing.

“Without any national policy in place, the government apparently has the power to spend even if it causes irreversible damage to the Bahamian economy, and our children’s children are left behind to pay the bill,”Darville said.

He explained that he voted against the 2010-2011 budget because of the excessive taxes he said the government placed on the backs of Bahamians.

Darville said it created much stress on families and discouraged both local and foreign investment in the country.

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