Ahead of the mid-year budget statement, Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said he is “cautiously optimistic” that the government will meet its revised fiscal goals.
“Despite what has happened in terms of the significance of the storm, we are still seeing very good trends with respect to tourism in particular that is having a positive effect on the government’s revenue,” he said outside Cabinet yesterday.
“And I think you will see that in the midterm report.
“We are cautiously optimistic that we will beat our revised projections. But again, we prefer to be conservative in that and plan for the worst case and hopefully we will achieve it and do better than anticipated.”
Following Hurricane Dorian in September, the government said that its 2019/2020 deficit is expected to be $677.5 million, or roughly 5.3 percent of the gross domestic product, compared to its initial projection of a deficit of $137 million for the year.
The Fiscal Responsibility Act, which was passed in 2018, mandated a deficit ratio of 0.5 percent for the 2020/2021 fiscal year, but that is now not expected to happen until 2024/2025.
However, months after the grim projections, Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar revealed last week that The Bahamas hit a record 7.2 million tourist visitors in 2019, despite the loss of the country’s second biggest tourism earner, Abaco, after it was devastated by Dorian.
During a press conference at Baha Mar resort to reveal the record-breaking year – up nine percent over 2018 – D’Aguilar explained that The Bahamas saw its highest number of stopover visitors from the United States ever, with 1.45 million Americans coming to The Bahamas; and its highest ever number of stopover visitors generally, at 1.78 million.