Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis yesterday refuted the opposition leader’s claim that The Bahamas is on “a fiscal cliff” and that a “financial crisis” is looming in the country.
“I read in The Tribune ridiculous commentary from the PLP (Progressive Liberal Party),” Minnis said in the House of Assembly.
“The leader of the opposition was quoted as saying at his Sunday press conference related to this borrowing that: ‘We are on a fiscal cliff, falling, there is a financial crisis that we think is looming and looming large.’”
Referring to those claims, Minnis said, “That is nonsense.”
PLP Leader Philip Brave Davis held a press conference at PLP Headquarters at Gambier House on Sunday.
During the press conference, Davis noted that The Bahamas is in a “perilous time”, noting that the government has proven to be “incapable of managing” the economic and fiscal affairs of the country.
“It would be incredibly selfish and unpatriotic of me and my political colleagues to watch and do nothing as this administration, through sheer incompetence, drives this country over a fiscal cliff,” he said.
However, the prime minister shot that down yesterday.
“From a base of stability and growth before the storm, led by this administration, we now have the room to responsibly borrow to help those in need,” Minnis said.
“It would be a sad day in The Bahamas if the opposition opposed the government borrowing to help Bahamians who lost everything in a natural disaster.
“It would be a sad, though no longer surprising day, if they turned their backs on our people who are in need.
“This would be a terrible example of a lack of compassion, of empathy, of solidarity with those in need of hope and rebuilding.”
Last week, Deputy Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest revealed that the government would have to borrow more than $500 million to deal with the effects of Hurricane Dorian.
Turnquest tabled the 2019 Fiscal Strategy Report, which revealed that the 2019/2020 deficit is expected to be $677.5 million, or roughly 5.3 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP).
Prior to Dorian, the government intended to meet a deficit goal of 0.5 percent of GDP by 2020/2021.
However, Turnquest now says that won’t happen until fiscal year 2024/2025.