The members of the Fiscal Responsibility Council (FRC) received their instruments of appointment yesterday. They will be immediately foisted into their new roles as the government adjusts its medium-term fiscal position this month because of the disruptions that have been and will be caused by Hurricane Dorian.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said yesterday in a press release that “the government can no longer make significant deviations to its fiscal plan” because of Dorian “without first presenting a plan and rationale to the public” and to the newly appointed FRC.
Speaker of the House of Assembly Halson Moultrie brought remarks at the appointment ceremony and revealed that the FRC will be comprised of Certified Financial Analysts’ Society of The Bahamas representative Kevin Burrows, who will serve from November 4, 2019 to November 4, 2022 and will also serve as chairman of the council; Bahamas Bar Association representative Kahlil Parker, who will serve from November 4, 2019 to November 4, 2021; Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants representative Gowon Bowe, who will serve from November 4, 2019 to November 4, 2021; Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation representative Christel Sands-Feaste, who will serve from November 4, 2019 to November 4, 2022; and University of The Bahamas representative Dale McHardy, who will serve from November 4, 2019 to November 4, 2021.
“It is an honor and a privilege for me to host this brief but very important ceremony for the appointment of distinguished persons that will form the first Fiscal Responsibility Council, established pursuant to the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2018,” Moultrie said.
“This council comes at a time when our government is challenged financially due to the passage of Hurricane Dorian and the devastation and decimation of Great Abaco and Grand Bahama left in its wake.
“Despite financial constraints, our people have demonstrated a resilient and indomitable spirit to rebuild and to re-engage economically.”
It is mandated by the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA) that the FRC is comprised of individuals from civil society and professionals with specific areas of expertise in law, business, economics, accounting and finance.
The new oversight body will not only be involved in the budget process as mandated by the act, but according to Moultrie, will also review the fiscal strategy report, mid-year review, pre-election economic and fiscal update, government annual accounts, reports on deviations from the fiscal responsibility requirements and the fiscal adjustment plan of the government in response to deviations.
The FRA 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.
“It is in this environment that we say how humble we are as a nation that you have so kindly consented to accept the significant function of this council, which includes assessing compliance with the general principles, fiscal responsibility principles and fiscal objectives and to advise on fiscal and budgetary matters of the government,” said Moultrie.
“The council is fundamental to achieving the objectives of the act, which are to establish the principles and procedures of responsible fiscal management; to guide the formulation and implementation of fiscal objectives; to guide the annual budget within a medium-term fiscal framework; and to facilitate effective parliamentary and public scrutiny of the fiscal performance of the government.”
While the government is mandated by law to consult the FRC, it is under no obligation to accept its recommendations.