#Nassau, June 2, 2018 – Bahamas – Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance K. Peter Turnquest said for too long, national budgets in The Bahamas have presented a far rosier picture of national finances than was actually the case.
“Worse still, the unpaid bills and unfunded obligations have kept appearing,” DPM Turnquest said during a press conference to provide supplemental details for the Budget Communication at the British Colonial Hilton, Thursday, May 31, 2018.
“At my insistence, the team at the Ministry of Finance worked hard to pull every file from within the Ministry, and to liaise with their colleagues throughout government, to ensure that we once and for all obtained a full accounting for all outstanding and unfunded obligations.
He said, “This was a key driver in our recent budget preparation exercise. As I said in the Budget, the end result of this exercise, we now find ourselves with a mountain of such bills, to the tune of some $360 million.
The DPM said for the first time in a long time, the government is being fully open and transparent about this and – more importantly – it is addressing it once and for all.
“Such flagrant mismanagement of the country’s national finances must never, ever be allowed to happen again.”
The DPM explained that in developing the Budget, the government needed to square a number of pressures and challenges:
- First, it must pay off the $360 million in arrears, which it will do responsibly over three years;
- Second, the government must fully and properly account for all of the known expenditure commitments across all Ministries and Departments, so it does not accrue any more unpaid bills;
- Third, it must provide financing for a selected number of the highest priority new initiatives in its growth agenda, and;
- Fourth, the government must do all of that in a way that leads to significant and permanent reductions in the fiscal deficit, and to a balanced budget in three years.
DPM Turnquest said, “I want to stress at this point that, while balancing the budget is the responsible thing for Government to do, it is also critically important to the prosperity of this and future generations of Bahamians.
“Sound public finances set an environment that is conducive to confidence in the future, the blossoming of entrepreneurship and investment, both domestic and foreign, and the creation of well-paying jobs for our people.”
He said this is what this budget is ultimately all about. “It is not simply about reducing the fiscal deficit just for the sake of doing so. It is truly about stronger growth, more jobs and a higher standard of living for all.”
The DPM said Government deficits and debt matter to all of all the population, because if the government does what other governments have done – to obscure the facts and play games with the budgets and just kick the can down the road, the country would one day wake up to find out that it cannot pay its bills and that it cannot maintain the value of its currency.
“Experience in other nations clearly shows the very real economic and social costs on society when Government debt is allowed to grow unchecked to critical limits.”
DPM Turnquest said, “As the responsible government you elected, we had to do what is right, as opposed to what is politically convenient.”
By: Llonella Gilbert (BIS)
Photo Caption: Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance K. Peter Turnquest brings remarks at a press conference to provide supplemental details for the Budget Communication at the British Colonial Hilton, Thursday, May 31, 2018. Seated is Financial Secretary, Marlon Johnson.
(BIS Photo/Patrick Hanna)