Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest yesterday called Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Philip Brave Davis’ recommendation for the government to establish an economic advisory council ridiculous, callous and reckless.
Stressing that the country is going through perilous times during a press conference on Sunday, Davis recommended the establishment of a non-partisan economic advisory council comprised of the government, the official opposition, the business community, organized labor, the church and civil society.
“One simple question to ask Mr. Davis, when his government was in office, what was its fiscal record and why did they not establish such a committee? It is a ridiculous statement,” Turnquest told Guardian Business.
“When he can answer satisfactorily the results for the fiscal outturn during his administration, then he can talk to me. And if they can show that level of transparency and accountability that this government has shown, then we can have something to talk about.
“Until then, he really has to stop because it appears that his objective at this stage is to inflict more pain and hardship on the Bahamian people.”
The government announced last week its intention to borrow more than $500 million to offset the costs associated with Hurricane Dorian. As a result, the fiscal deficit is expected to balloon to five percent of gross domestic product and the debt is expected to skyrocket to $9 billion in the next two years.
Davis said on Sunday that the government has proven to be “incapable of managing” the economic and fiscal affairs of the country.
“His callous statements are reckless and they are unbecoming of a leader in this country,” Turnquest said. “He knows how government finances work and the reckless statements that they have been making are unhelpful and in fact counter-productive to what we are trying to achieve as a country.
“The statements about reporting to the IMF and the sovereign ratings people, it is absolutely callous and I couldn’t believe that a leader in this country would make such a statement. To what end, to what end?”