Friday, Sep 20, 2019
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On the fiscal snapshot

Dear Editor,

While the Progressive Liberal Party supports sensible fiscal management, we have repeatedly cautioned the Free National Movement (FNM) about its fixation on numbers over people.

This administration gets more ridiculous by the day.

After implementing a punishing tax increase on the Bahamian people and falling hundreds of millions of dollars short of its own bad projections, we can hardly fathom how the minister of finance has the gall to crow about meeting the deficit target.

The deficit supposedly being met is simply the result of scaling back spending when it became clear this lost administration could not extract what it expected from the Bahamian people.

But, congratulations.

Doctors have gone unpaid to the point they strike, but the deficit target has been met.

Public infrastructure is in a state of disrepair as they cut capital expenditure, but the deficit target has been met.

Public servants cannot get payments due to them, but the deficit target has been met.

BPL is in crisis, blackouts plague New Providence and two generators at Clifton worth over $50 million burned under this administration’s watch, but the deficit target has been met.

School repairs cannot start or finish on time, but the deficit target has been met.

Ragged Island has suffered for two years, but the deficit target has been met.

Grand Bahamians are crying out for relief, but the deficit target has been met.

For the record, we have seen this provisional data change before.

The minister should await the final numbers before popping the champagne. We will await the Central Bank’s numbers.

Further, it should embarrass the government that it claims such fiscal prudence while recording a cash payment to and a mortgage from the owner of the Grand Lucayan as an investment and not an expense, when they in fact paid more than the appraised value.

The only major initiative by this government to impact anything was the massive hike in VAT which has had a dampening impact on economic growth.

There is no evidence of any positive impact of any initiative announced by this government on jobs.

Yet, we do know that the number of unemployed persons increased since this government took office

Debt has increased under this administration and the debt-to-GDP ratio stands at a whopping 58.8 percent.

Meantime, FNM initiatives like the Grand Bahama tech hub, the Over-the-Hill renewal and the Commercial Enterprises Act have all been stillborn.

The question the government should be asking is: “Are Bahamians better off and more hopeful for the future as a result of meeting the deficit?’

The answer is a resounding no.

The FNM should know that what it seeks to spin as success is seen by the Bahamian people for what it is – abject failure.

We all deserve better.

— Chester Cooper, Exumas and Ragged Island MP

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