Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Shadow Finance Minister Chester Cooper yesterday hit back at Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest’s assertion that it’s an “utter falsehood” that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is dictating the fiscal policies of the Minnis administration.
Cooper cited the IMF’s own Article IV report on its last consultation with the government as backup that the administration is in lock-step with global economic institution.
“In May of 2018, the IMF Article IV Consultation on The Bahamas, conducted months prior, revealed that IMF ‘staff proposed… allowing for a transition period of three years covering FY2018–FY2020, a deficit target of one percent of GDP from FY2021 onwards…,’” Cooper said.
“The IMF went on to say, on page 13 of that document, ‘The [government] authorities agreed with staff’s proposed fiscal rule targets. They welcomed staff’s proposed calibration of the fiscal rule, which they plan to include in the draft fiscal responsibility legislation. The bill is expected to be sent to Parliament in late May.’
“That same month, the Cabinet of The Bahamas approved that legislation. This document is widely available on the Internet.”
The back-and-forth began with Cooper’s response to Turnquest’s mid-year budget statement, which revealed that government revenues are below target despite value-added tax.
Turnquest said the government, however, is still in line to meet its deficit target as the government plans to further trim spending.
Turnquest shot back this morning that Cooper should “do the right thing and apologize for telling fibs”.
Cooper said Turnquest should spend less time worrying about the PLP.
“For someone who should be spending the remainder of the fiscal year chasing every VAT dollar he can so as to not look completely inept at budget forecasting, the minister of finance appears to have a lot of time on his hands,” Cooper said.
“His repeated protestations about the lack of the International Monetary Fund’s involvement in the Hubert Minnis administration’s fiscal policy, however, belie the facts as they stand.”
Cooper added, “Just yesterday, the minister of finance said the IMF is helping draft the Public Financial Management Bill, which will eventually replace the Financial Administration and Audit Act, the very core of how our public finances are managed.
“I am not interested in a back-and-forth with the minister with his emotional rants.
“He should focus on his significant revenue shortfall rather than issuing nonsense press statements.
“I will have more to say in the upcoming debate on the mid-year budget which he is seeking to suppress.
“So much for transparency and accountability. Minister, please get to work.
“Your numbers suggest there is a lot of it to be done to meet your delusional projections.”
Paige started working as a business reporter in August 2016.
Education: Palm Beach Atlantic University in 2006 with a BA in Radio and Television News