Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest told Guardian Business yesterday that the opposition’s lack of support for the Fiscal Responsibility Act is disheartening, and noted his fear that should the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) regain the government and renege on the commitments of the act, that it could take the country back economically.
Turnquest said he hopes the PLP’s recent posturing about the legislation is simply rhetoric and not a true policy position.
“We continue to work towards achieving our fiscal consolidation plan,” Turnquest said.
“It is disappointing to have read reports of the lack of commitment by the opposition to the Fiscal Responsibility Act, the cornerstone of a new paradigm of transparency and accountability in government and fiscal management and reporting.
“We pray that this is just more idle rhetoric from a group void of understanding the demand for proper fiscal reporting and management, rather than a true policy position, which, if taken seriously, will take this country back to the disastrous period of 2012 to 2017, where fiscal restraint and transparency were strangers to those charged to manage our affairs.”
The Fiscal Responsibility Act is expected 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. The act requires the government to reduce its debt to gross domestic product (GDP) ratio to 50 percent of GDP over time.
It also calls for the government to lower the fiscal deficit of 5.8 percent of GDP to no more than 0.5 percent within three years, and to keep its comparative year-on-year current expenditure at or below 3 percent.
The legislation also requires an independent fiscal responsibility council, comprised of individuals from civil society and professionals with specific areas of expertise in law, business, economics, accounting and finance to hold the government to account and give recommendations.