Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said yesterday Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Philip Brave Davis is being unrealistic in his criticisms of the government, accusing him of pandering instead of making suggestions grounded in reality.
Minnis said his government did not make decisions to improve its popularity.
“The misguided presentation by the leader of the opposition is mostly divorced from reality,” said Minnis in the House of Assembly at the conclusion of the budget debate.
“To blame this administration for the hardships caused by the pandemic is immature political nonsense.
“My government realized from the beginning that this was a historic crisis.
“We acted quickly to save lives. We did not make decisions to be popular. This is the problem with the leader of the opposition.
“In my view, his utterances are often desperate attempts to appease the popular mood. Good leaders do not do this during a public health crisis.”
Minnis said his government is not to blame for the hardships facing the Bahamian public.
“The leader of the opposition’s budget contribution was full of empty rhetoric and woefully short on substance,” he said.
“If one accepts his ridiculous assessment, he gives little to no blame or responsibility to COVID-19 for most that has happened the past 15 months.
“In his politically biased and bizarre view, most things the virus caused is the fault of our administration.
“I guess he will also start to blame me, Mr. Speaker…for climate change, for the hurricane season, and everything under the sun. It’s only a matter of time.
“I’m surprised that he’s not blaming me for the virus.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is the worst global public health crisis in 100 years. All countries have been affected.
“The virus has killed millions. It has made hundreds of millions sick.
“The virus has collapsed the healthcare systems of some of the richest and most powerful countries on earth.
“The global powers with the best scientists, the best hospitals and the biggest pharmaceutical industries have struggled with this virus.”
In 2021/2022, the government projects record debt as a result of the difficult financial position the country is in.
In all, it projects to take in $1.8 billion in proceeds from borrowing in the coming fiscal year.
The corresponding government debt level is expected to rise to $10.4 billion in 2021/2022, equating to roughly 84.3 percent of GDP.
PLP Deputy Leader Chester Cooper has been particularly critical of the government’s borrowing.
However, Minnis said the government had no choice given the economic crisis the country faced.
“We borrowed to feed our people when the global economy was in meltdown and Bahamians were in need,” he said.
“We borrowed to give our people record amounts of unemployment benefits, so they could have some money in their pockets during a global public health crisis.
“We borrowed so we could support Bahamian businesses.
“We borrowed to help our people get through these tough times, as a caring government should do.
“Governments around the world took on debt to support their people. It was a common policy for survival. It was about saving lives.
“To not borrow would have meant leaving Bahamians to fend for themselves while the world’s economy was in free fall.
“It is sad to listen to the opposition, Mr. Speaker. They have taken a cynical position. They criticize everything we do for political reasons, even if it is good for the people.”