Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said yesterday that the Fiscal Responsibility Council (FRC) will likely formally convene for the first time next week in order to begin its assessment of the 2020/2021 budget.
Turnquest said a memorandum of understanding is yet to be finalized that will allow the group to officially begin its work.
“We hope to have that done next week, so that they can start to do their work in earnest and work at whatever technical issues there are in respect to that,” said Turnquest.
“So we look forward to the report, as again we have been a very open, transparent and cooperative government, particularly in the Ministry of Finance, with respect to financial affairs.”
According to Turnquest, the statutorily mandated FRC will be an impartial observer of the government’s 2020/2021 budget, which came into force yesterday.
“They are obviously, observing as all Bahamians are, and the realities and circumstances [of the 2020/2021 budget] are as relevant to them as they are to us,” he said.
He explained that the FRC will ensure that the principles outlined in fiscal responsibility legislation are followed as closely as possible; and that the government comes back to its outlined fiscal consolidation as quickly as possible.
“We don’t control their assessments and we’ll see how they score it (2020/2021 budget),” Turnquest said.
‘We think most Bahamians agree that the budget that was put forth is the budget for this time and that it reflects the needs of the Bahamian people, as well as the absolute imperative for us to ensure that we support and sustain the economic activity in the country, so that we do not have a total collapse during this very tenuous time.”
The FRC, while a statutory body, does not have the power to veto budget decisions and the government is not beholden to any recommendations made.