All of the private sector entities mandated to nominate a member for the Fiscal Responsibility Council have done so and they are being vetted by the government, outgoing President of the Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA) Gowon Bowe told Guardian Business yesterday.
While Bowe did not want to release the names of those who have been put forward, because there is still the possibility that they do not pass the vetting process, he confirmed that the process is underway.
Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest told this paper recently that the council will be privy to the 2019/2020 budget, which will be debated in the House of Assembly sometime next month.
The council will be comprised of individuals from civil society and professionals with specific areas of expertise in law, business, economics, accounting and finance, according to the act.
The new oversight body will be involved in the budget process as mandated by the act. Its members will be nominated independently by the Bahamas Bar Association, the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation, the University of The Bahamas, the Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants and the Certified Financial Analyst Society of The Bahamas.
The Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA), which mandates the formation of the Fiscal Responsibility Council, sets policy that will seek to constrain the government’s fiscal processes and keep the country on a medium-term trajectory toward economic growth, while creating a culture of transparency and responsibility with regard to public funds.
The act requires the government to reduce its debt-to-GDP (gross domestic product) ratio to 50 percent of GDP over time.
Besides lowering the debt-to-GDP level, the law when implemented will require the government to lower the fiscal deficit of 5.8 percent of GDP to no more than 0.5 percent within three years.
The government will also be required to keep its comparative year-on-year current expenditure in check.
The act also limits the government’s ability to spend beyond its budgets without oversight and increase spending during an election year.
It does, however, allow for the government to spend beyond its budget during times of crisis, though those scenarios, like others will have to be put before Parliament and the council.
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