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DPM: Revenue in July was down 50 percent

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said yesterday that revenue was down 50 percent in July compared to previous years.

However, according to Turnquest, the government is on track for where it thought it would be — from a revenue perspective — amid a worsening COVID-19 pandemic.

“I don’t have the numbers in front of me but we were down about 50 percent in July from where we would have been in an ordinary year,” he said. 

He said no additional borrowing resolutions are expected for this budget year.

Turnquest said the government may consider public-private partnerships to assist with infrastructure.

The Bahamas’ economy came to a near halt in March when Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis imposed a national curfew and weekend lockdowns, and ordered the closure of non-essential businesses across the country at the onset of the pandemic.

He later closed the borders to visitors and Bahamians for nearly four months, bringing The Bahamas’ tourism product to a standstill.

The borders were reopened on July 1.

However, with more than 1,400 COVID-19 cases reported since then, The Bahamas’ tourism sector has yet to rebound.

Turnquest has said that government is aiming for a mid-autumn rebound.

Yesterday, when asked whether that was rebound was still on track, he replied, “It’s hard to say whether we’re on track per se because with this current spike, everything is dependent on the numbers and the advice of the health professionals.

“Certainly, it is our target to be open by early November.”

Asked what will happen to the 2020/2021 budget if that target is not met, he said, “If we continue with this situation that we have today, obviously we’re going to have to make some further adjustments in our overall projections for the rest of the year. We hope not to get there.”

When asked what he meant by adjustments, Turnquest replied, “That means we will have to adjust the budget, cut the budget, massage the budget, manipulate the budget — however you want to say it — as such as it reflects the level of revenue that we anticipate or we are in fact receiving.”

He said he “certainly” hopes and prays that Bahamians will pay attention to health protocols as The Bahamas continues to see an increase in cases.

“They will have to take advantage of the opportunity to help their country…to get through this period so that we can reopen again and everybody could go back to whatever the new normal happens to be,” Turnquest said.

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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