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Opposition Says Fnm Rhetoric Has Triggered Moody's Alert

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PLP Chairman Fred Mitchell.

Reader poll

With Opposition members accusing the Minnis administration of triggering an impending Moody's review, who do you think is responsible?

  • The Minnis administration 10%
  • The Christie administration 90%

182 total votes.

By RICARDO WELLS

Tribune Staff Reporter

rwells@tribunemedia.net

MEMBERS of the Official Opposition have accused the Minnis administration of triggering Moody's looming review of this country's credit rating with damaging rhetoric, saying the actions and words of the current government prompted the threat of a new downgrade.

In a statement issued Tuesday, PLP Senator Fred Mitchell said the new administration engaged in "reckless" borrowing shortly after assuming office, stating: "You made the broth, so now stew in your own fat."

In a separate statement, the PLP's finance spokesperson and Exuma MP Chester Cooper said the Free National Movement's description of the country's finances since assuming office prompted Moody's latest stance on the matter.

The reaction came after Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance K Peter Turnquest on Monday blamed the Christie administration's efforts to "hide the true extent" of the country's fiscal crisis on Moody's announcement that it has placed the Bahamas' Baa3 credit rating on review for a downgrade.

Mr Mitchell berated Mr Turnquest for his claims.

The former Fox Hill MP said the assertion put forth by Mr Turnquest reflected the thoughts of a person who had not read the Moody's report in full, noting the credit rating agency did not differentiate between the actions of either administration.

"All one has to do is read what Moody's said. They talked about the government and The Bahamas," Mr Mitchell noted.

"In our parliamentary debates, the leader of the opposition, our MPs and senators tried to warn the FNM, stop talking down this economy. We thought it reckless to borrow nearly a billion in their first week in office. We said the only reason for the less than promised fiscal performance was Hurricane Matthew. Moody's affirms that fact."

Mr Mitchell added: "Mismanagement and corruption by the PLP figured nowhere in what Moody's had to say. Those were FNM propaganda lines. Now look what you've done.

"And yet the only thing you can say, having called your own fish stink, is that it's the PLP's fault. As my mum used to say: 'You all ain't shame?'"

The Minnis administration previously announced plans to borrow $323m to cover the deficit for the 2017-2018 fiscal year and an additional $400m to cover the fiscal overhang for 2016-2017.

Moody's last week cited these revelations, together with poorer fiscal consolidation prospects, as the key factors behind its decision to place The Bahamas' sovereign creditworthiness on review for another potential downgrade.

The move comes nearly a month after Moody's indicated that it had been spooked by the incoming government's nine-figure review of budget estimates left by the former administration.

During the budget debate, Mr Cooper attacked Mr Turnquest's budget presentation for sending the wrong message to investors and the rating agencies with talk of $722m in new borrowing.

Despite calling for a bi-partisan approach to fixing the issue, Mr Cooper said yesterday the damage has already been done and urged the Minnis administration to "take a course of corrective action" as it looks to "stave off a likely downgrade".

Mr Cooper's statement read: "The FNM must, no matter how late to the game, develop an economic recovery strategy that will encompass drawing in more foreign direct investment, increasing the ease of doing business, continuing and expanding mortgage relief for troubled homeowners, job creation, reducing the cost of electricity, stemming the tide of crime, and further allowing Bahamian businesses to access global capital to increase employment, and laying out a plan to further develop our capital and Family Island infrastructure.

"To be sure, there is not much point at this juncture in blame-casting; and this latest development is nothing to be celebrated, as despite our divergent views, the failure of the FNM government will mean the failure of The Bahamas."

Mr Cooper said the government and opposition must work together despite their differences in philosophies and approaches toward the success of the country.

Advice

The Exuma MP called on the government to engage a bi-partisan solution to the problem and consult the top private sector experts in formulating an economic growth plan and appointment of an economic growth czar.

He added that organic growth from domestic investment and entrepreneurial growth through the streamlining of the business license process and significant investment in entrepreneurship via the Bahamas Entrepreneurial Venture Fund must be key to this new plan of action.

Touching on Baha Mar, Mr Cooper said the government must also "reject any suggestion that fosters uncertainty" regarding the development and its new owner Chow Tai Fook Enterprises Ltd.

Mr Cooper continued: "The Minnis administration's pontification over wild requests by Sarkis Izmirlian that suggests he should somehow reacquire the property at Cable Beach has surely led to uncertainty among those who would wish to book and invest in the property in this most fragile stage of its infancy.

"We note that S&P (Standard & Poor's) cited the stalled opening of Baha Mar as a reason for their downgrade. The former administration was successful in ensuring the opening of Baha Mar. We reiterate in the public's interest that Baha Mar must succeed.

"Mr Izmirlian remains a friend to The Bahamas and a permanent resident of this country. A prudent government would be assisting him in finding another project in the country in which to invest his considerable resources; the property at South Ocean situated next to Albany comes to mind.

"Anything less than full-throated support in word and deed for Baha Mar is potentially harmful to our economy at this time."

Mr Cooper also insisted the government postpone its resolution to borrow $320m to facilitate deficit spending this fiscal year and implement appropriate alternative strategies.

"We suspect this was mere posturing, optics, from the current administration with a plan to revise such a hefty downward outlook at the time of the mid-year exercise to appear the saviour of the economy," Mr Cooper noted.

He added: "But such dangerous games are not suited for serious-minded governments to play. Governance is serious business. This government should focus, like the last, on using the revenue and spending control tools at its disposal to focus on reducing the deficit, not prefacing the year to come with such a burdensome level of debt without looking for cost savings and ways to increase revenue."

Comments

DaGoobs 2 years, 1 month ago

So what are people like Dread Fred and Alfred Sears really, really inferring: keep quiet, say nothing and Moody's and the other ratings agencies won't find out how bad they and their colleagues left things because it might precipitate a negative rating? This is the kind of lopsided PLP thinking that we got rid of on 10th May for at least the next 5 years. Fred and Sears are trying to keep themselves relevant in the hope that should the voters swing back to the PLP in 2022 they will be in the frontline and able to secure the leader or deputy leader positions. Tell them to get lost, we don't fall for their brand of crap. The revelation that China Construction still is no closer to completing the unfinished work at Baha Mar demonstrates that we would have been worse than clowns to have followed the PLP's Pied Piper song and dance routine when they can't get this contractor to complete anything. Fred and Sears and others like Picewell, Brave and Glynnis don't seem to have gotten the message that there are a great many of us who have a severe credibility problem with them. To follow them is to court disaster of untold dimensions.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 2 years, 1 month ago

As usual, pretty much spot on. The brand of the PLP as a political party has no value whatsoever going forward, essentially meaning that the party is now 'dead' for all intents and purposes with absolutely no hope of resurrection. And there you have the eternal legacy of two corrupt politicians, Pindling and Christie. As for Fwreddy Boy, well, let's just say his name alone will illicit much laughter in the international diplomatic community for years to come, and rightfully so because he epitomizes the obvious pseudo-intellect who cannot hide the fact that he is nothing more than a foolish buffoon.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 2 years, 1 month ago

Oops! "elicit" not "illicit", but I do naturally tend to think of the latter word whenever Fwreddy Boy comes to mind.

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licks2 2 years, 1 month ago

I hope Sear don't get himself mixed up with this sorry bunch of " idjits" . . .Chester, now Sears. . . and this "nudder" person talking fool. . .ALL OF THEM THEM SAYING THE SAME FOOLISHNESS. . .KEEP QUITE AND THEM RATING AGENCIES WON'T KNOW HOW BAD THINGS ARE. . .THEN THEY WON'T DOWN GRADE WE!!

DON'T THESE WIGS KNOW THAT EVEN IF YOU HIDE THE REALITY FROM THE RATING PERSONS DON'T MAKE THE REALITY ANY DIFFERENT WITH OUTCOME FOR THE PEOPLES DEM. . . THESE NIGGERS THEM DOES TELL SO MUCH LIES THEY WANT THE WHOLE COUNTRY TO ADAPT THEIR WAYS AND LIE TO EVERYBODY!!

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birdiestrachan 2 years, 1 month ago

If the Bahamian economy does not grow, it will be very sad. so far the FNM government has no plans to grow the economy. VAT Web shop license. Baha Mar according to the FNM government were all the wrong things to do, but they have done nothing to correct these things, They made promises they never intended to keep and they pretend that that Hurricane Matthew never happened which affected the finances of the Bahamas, Anything that is based on lies will not stand and the FNM party did a lot of that,

Their honey moon will be very short and many will rue the day they vote for them. they have no vision.. BAMSI, college of the Bahamas. and many others were visionary ideas of the PLP.. We shall all see what the FNM will do.

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sheeprunner12 2 years, 1 month ago

Are these senior PLPs aware that their statements are really exposing the blatant, reckless, and corrupt actions & gross mismanagement by the previous Christie government????????? ........ They are further damaging an already radioactive PLP brand ........... Not that most of us FNMs care that they are so dumb

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sheeprunner12 2 years, 1 month ago

Further ........... Cooper is really naive to believe that the FNM does not have a plan to move the country's economy forward ........ but that is the PLP mentality that they have the inalienable right to govern this country ..... Well, they will have to sit on the sidelines and watch while this FNM Cabinet methodically set about putting a REAL plan into action ..... It will take several years to undo the damage of the past decade of economic depression

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Alex_Charles 2 years, 1 month ago

the PLP is looking like the Democratic party in the USA, completely lost and disconnected from reality.

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sealice 2 years, 1 month ago

Does this fool really think we are that stupid???
Fweddy you and your cronies purposely not spending money on education to dumb down the population hasn't worked, although many have and will continue to suffer thanks to you and the PLP.... We can read we can write and we can see you for what you are ...... go away we are trying to move forward.

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birdiestrachan 2 years, 1 month ago

It is the PLP who gave the Bahamian children free high school education. It was the PLP who instituted the collage of the Bahamas and now the University of the Bahamas. No honest person can say they dumb down the Bahamas. But people can wright what ever they wish it does not really have to be true,

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sheeprunner12 2 years, 1 month ago

For every ex-PLP Cabinet Minister brought to court on bribery/extortion charges ...... we will probably get one brownie point for a S&P and Moody's upgrade ....... The Minnis Doctrine is bound to get us off the Moody's hit list ............ Better days are coming, Bahamians!!!!!!!!!!!

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