The government has revealed that the deficit for the fiscal year of 2020/2021 will climb to an unprecedented $1.3 billion, which will push the national debt to near or over $9 billion.
To its credit, the government has stated that there will be no new taxes introduced.
And much to the relief of the over 20,000 public sector employees, there will be no job cuts in the civil service.
With perhaps tens of thousands of job losses in the private sector over the past two months due to the near shutdown of the economy because of the COVID-19 outbreak, which has probably raised the unemployment rate to 30 percent, public sector employees should be thankful to God that they still have an income to look forward to at the end of each month.
Moreover, the government has kept thousands of teachers on the payroll, notwithstanding the fact that they have been on holiday over the past two months.
And then, one must take into consideration the hundreds of teachers on Grand Bahama who have had a two-month holiday in 2019 after Hurricane Dorian.
Their salaries were never stopped, despite not being in the classrooms for nearly five months and counting.
For tens of thousands of Bahamians in the private sector who have been laid off, uncertainty abounds.
Granted, many of them are currently collecting $200 in NIB jobless benefits. But with its current rate of disbursement, the reported $1.7 billion NIB has in reserves could come perilously close to depletion if this economic crisis drags on into 2021 and beyond, which isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
More is coming out of the NIB fund than what is going in.
Bahamians have a sense of dignity. They want to work. They want to be able to meet their financial obligations.
Bahamians appreciate that the NIB handouts are only a stop-gap measure until the economy bounces back.
With the precarious situation that the government finds itself in due to COVID-19, the decision to defer salary increases and promotions is understandable to open-minded Bahamians.
If disgruntled civil servants are unwilling to understand the volatile situation the country is facing, then that’s on them.
I’m calling on right-thinking Bahamians from the private sector to take a stand by not standing in solidarity with the Bahamas Public Service Union (BPSU) and its membership if they decide to engage in any industrial unrest.
It would be an utterly unconscionable and immoral move to engage in any industrial action in light of The Bahamas’ financial situation.
— Kevin Evans