As the government prepares to present the 2019/2020 budget, it should find “any excuse to abandon the disastrous and failed fiscal policies of the prime minister and minister of finance”, said Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Philip Brave Davis yesterday.
“As we are all aware, Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest will deliver his third budget communication of this term on or before Wednesday, 29th May, 2019,” Davis said, during a press conference at PLP headquarters.
“He will present to the House of Assembly his third estimates of revenue and expenditure and the government’s fiscal priorities for the upcoming fiscal year.
“While he would like this to go the way of his mid-year budget statement, that is not going to happen. There will be a debate.
“We in the PLP have said on several occasions that we have no confidence in this government’s ability to effectively and practically manage our public finances because they have missed critical fiscal targets for the last two budgetary cycles and because they failed to present realistic budget estimates.
“The finance minister and his Cabinet colleagues, led by the prime minister, are bloody minded and intransigent in their desire to abandon the well-considered plans for the modernization of The Bahamas left in place by the last PLP administration, so that they could, essentially, mortgage the assets of the state to the benefit of foreigners, friends, families and political cronies.”
Davis insisted yesterday that the government’s fiscal strategy is doomed to fail and its options for the upcoming budget are limited.
“The government’s inability to meet its revenue targets has resulted in the government failing to meet many of its expense obligations on a timely basis,” he continued.
“This is imposing a secret and invisible tax on those affected businesses and individuals who can least afford it. This phenomenon has an add-on effect to the misery index.
“Since the government can only extract so much funding from businesses and consumers through these payment deferments, the unadulterated truth about the fiscal and economic health of the country must be revealed sooner or later – as no lie lasts forever.”
He said at this point, the government’s only options are to increase taxes and/or fees and push the economy into a recession, or drastically cut recurrent and capital expenditure and hasten the economy’s descent into a recession.
Davis said the government could also borrow money from the Central Bank, which will put the U.S. peg under pressure, or borrow internationally, which would have the same result.
However, he noted that none of these options are favorable.
“In light of the foregoing, we in the PLP have no confidence in the ability of this FNM government to put politics aside and bring to Parliament a realistic and practical budget, taking into account the reality of what is happening on the ground and literally in thousands of Bahamian households,” Davis added.
“We say again that the country would have been better off and better served had the FNM left in place many of the policies they inherited from the PLP government.”