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Minnister Of Pain: Pm Swings Axe To Turn Round Economy

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis addresses the nation.

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis addresses the nation.

By SANCHESKA DORSETT

Tribune Staff Reporter

sdorsett@tribunemedia.net

MAKING good on his promise to slash government expenses in an effort to balance the country’s books, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis last night announced a variety of conservative fiscal measures, including a ten per cent cut in spending in all government ministries and no new public sector hiring.

In his first televised national address as the nation’s leader, Prime Minister Minnis also said there will be no renewal of contracts for salaries which exceed $100,000 per year. He said he will ensure his ministers “adhere to their budgets and to financial constraints”.

He also announced a reduction in government vehicles as part of a “new era of financial discipline”.

Dr Minnis said because of the “recklessness and massive waste by the former administration,” his government “must get our financial house in order”.

He accused the former Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) government of spending approximately “a quarter billion dollars” in the months leading up to the general election.

“It is my government’s task to respond vigorously to the economic conditions which confront us,” Dr Minnis said.

“In addition to reducing public expenditure, we must move to aggressively stimulate economic growth. One measure I announce this evening (Wednesday) is that all government ministries will have expenditure cut by ten per cent. There will be no new public sector hiring at this time. We must get our financial house in order. We must reverse the arc of government deficit and debt. We will appoint a special committee to advise on state-owned enterprises, with a view to reducing the burden of such enterprises on public finances,” Dr Minnis said.

“There will be no renewal of contracts for emoluments which exceed $100,000 per year. To further reduce expenditure, we will reduce the number of government vehicles. Unlike the former head of government, I will be extraordinarily more vigilant in ensuring that my ministers adhere to their budgets and to financial constraints.

“I am not going to sugar coat the medicine that we are going to have to take to restore our fiscal good health. As a doctor, I know only too well that sometimes you need to deploy strong measures to get a patient’s fever to break as you seek to alleviate the symptoms and the underlying causes of ill health.

“The former practice of bypassing the Ministry of Finance and bringing new spending requests directly to Cabinet, without review by the Ministry of Finance, is over.”

“We are in a new era of financial discipline. The former administration was addicted to luxury travel, often spending extraordinary sums of money on delegations travelling the world at great expense. We will reduce the amount of money spent on foreign travel by government officials.”

Dr Minnis said several forensic audits are being conducted in government ministries to recover, where possible, the people’s money. He said the PLP recklessly spent public funds without checks or balances.

“Approximately a quarter billion dollars was spent by the last administration in the months leading up to the general election. This was another glaring example of the recklessness and massive waste by the former administration, which still today accepts no responsibility for its disastrous governance,” Dr Minnis said.

The Tribune previously reported a “horrendous” $234 million was added to the government’s fiscal deficit during the May 10 general election quarter, according to Central Bank data released earlier this month.

“They stubbornly refused to change tack,” Dr Minnis continued. “In opposition we warned them that there was dire trouble ahead. But the response was to go full steam toward the iceberg, spending the people’s money with wild abandon and few results. One glaring example is the $80 million spent on BAMSI. While there is a need for such an institute, there is little value to be seen for the vast sum of money spent.”

Dr Minnis also referred to a looming review and potential credit downgrade by international rating agency Moody’s, saying the prospect “is the result of five years of gross mismanagement and incompetence by the former administration.”

Last month, the Minnis administration passed bills to borrow more than $722m to cover inherited outstanding bills along with the costs associated with running the country moving forward.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance K Peter Turnquest explained that $400m was needed to satisfy expenditure for the past year, while $322,462,707m will be borrowed for the 2017-2018 budget, amounting to a whopping $722,462,707m.

Comments

Well_mudda_take_sic 1 year, 1 month ago

Simply not enough. A large part of the 10% cut within all ministries is simply doing away with the 10% across the board increase that the outgoing PLP government had factored into the current fiscal year's budget, which budget was accepted for the most part by the incoming FNM government because they had insufficient time to prepare their own budget from scratch.

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sheeprunner12 1 year, 1 month ago

Excellent address to re-set the political and economic direction of the country .............Kudos!!

However, Minnis needs to outline a plan to invest in ONE Family Island each year for the next five years to re-set the national economy ......... Five years means five islands upgraded to diversify the national economy ..... Perry said that if Ingraham could put $100million into roads or Abaco, he could put $100million into Andros (BAMSI) ........... now what about putting $100million (each) into GB, Eleuthera, Long Island, Cat Island and Crooklins for the next five years ............. Can you imagine what that would mean for National Development????????????

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banker 1 year, 1 month ago

Interesting, moving in the right direction, but still not enough.

I have been making a career transition in banking & the institution that employs me has been supplementing my post-tertiary education and it has been an enlightening eyeful.

I am totally convinced that because of the insular, parochial conditions in the Bahamas, even the most progressive Bahamians are behind the eight ball -we do not know what we do not know. I am talking about such folks as Edison, Gowon, Peter, Robert, Dionisio, Brent & the entire government charged with fixing our economy. These are the enlightened ones. The PLP are all enlightenment retards who's chief skill is teifin' from da people.

All of us have had the inbred island tunnel vision to the point that we are almost beyond saving. Ordering a 10% cut of government departments is like putting a bandaid on a wound that requires a tourniquet. Where is the cancellation of BAMSI & Urban Renewal? Where is the surgical necessity of removing 95% of BoB? The real spending is not in the 10% but in all of the gravy-sucking BS like BahamasAir.

Where is the pragmatism and quick action? The Ministry of Tourism is still living in the Dark Ages with the sun, sand & sea tired crap. Baha Mar is destined for failure -more of the same expensive crap that tourists don't want. Our Financial Services leaders are dunces & retrograde. They aren't even aware of the latest advances in Fintech, payments & modern banking. For crying out loud, some of the Canadian banks are moving towards the elimination of cheques & if there is a cheque, one can deposit it by taking a picture with a cell phone & use the funds immediately after doing that. The banking & financial services that we offer clients is laughable. It is the Dark Ages again. We are left behind when our own useless fiat currency, the B$ dollar can't be used to buy crypto-currency like Bitcoin for international transactions. The hottest new investment tool is the ICO & once again Bahamians are precluded from participating in the global economy & the chance to get rich in usable money. BISX is a complete joke & should be scrapped.

As I write this from afar, and I look around me and see functioning and thriving economies, I don't think that the Bahamas will ever be anything else than what it is now -- perhaps worse. In our current office now, we have 35 unfilled jobs that pay over $150,000 a year, and I can't think of a single Bahamian friend or colleague who would qualify for any of them.

The most disturbing thing about the new government, is that they really don't know what they should be doing to future-proof the Bahamas. They think that all they have to do is staunch the flow, and things will take care of themselves. It won't. We need a strategic plan like the Cayman Islands, and Dubai and Singapore. The trouble is that most Bahamians do not have a single clue about strategic re-positioning. We are doomed as a country.

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Tarzan 1 year, 1 month ago

Way too pessimistic. Give the good doctor a chance! He is doing the right things. It is absurd to expect a detailed plan to completely restructure society inside six months! The PLP operated in the dark and as is now being exposed, was nothing but a criminal organization. No one could possibly have known what they would find on the morning after the election. The current government is still in the "look and learn what's there" stage. Banker, hold your water, please!

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sheeprunner12 1 year, 1 month ago

You are a quitter and a loser ......... You left the country and now trying to bad-mouth Minnis for cleaning up the PLP mess ......... STFU

Leaving the country under the disguise that you can contribute to the country is the oldest cop-out yet ........ Check Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica & Puerto Rico

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banker 1 year, 1 month ago

I left the country to contribute to my own life. You only live once. We all owe it to ourselves to make the best possible lives for ourselves. The garden is barren in The Bahamas.

Interesting that you give a full blown ad hominem attack rather than read what is said, and test its validity against reason.

My missive wasn't an attack - it was a piece of reasoning. One has to identify the problem before it can be solved. My analysis was simply that I didn't see a cognitive toolset to fix The Bahamas for the future. For example, if the government wanted to future-proof the country, they would begin a total digital transformation of the civil service which would cut the expenditures by over 60%, deliver better services to its citizens, demonstrate fiscal probity. The FNM is orders of magnitude better than the PLP, but they are still lacking the strategic mindset, the enlightened civics and the propensity for disruptive, positive action. That is true.

People are resistant to change, and fear the unknowns. There will be a lot of ambiguity in transforming The Bahamas, and the current crop of politicians do not seem to have the ability to navigate this. There has been nothing new in terms of strategic development. Yes cutting costs is of prime importance, but if you don't change the way that those costs are incurred, then all that you are doing is worsening the situation. Simple economics.

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Honestman 1 year, 1 month ago

We should "begin a total digital transformation of the civil service which would cut the expenditures by over 60%, deliver better services to its citizens, demonstrate fiscal probity."

Totally agree although my feeling is that the percentage saving might be a bit on the high side but hey, you may be right.

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sheeprunner12 1 year, 1 month ago

There have been many attempts to make e-government work since 2002 ...... and the results have been mediocre for many reasons ........ many contracts and many dollars with little results ........ Time will tell

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Publius 1 year, 1 month ago

I left the country to contribute to my own life. You only live once. We all owe it to ourselves to make the best possible lives for ourselves.

Truth

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Publius 1 year, 1 month ago

Ordering a 10% cut of government departments is like putting a bandaid on a wound that requires a tourniquet.

I agree with this and share this sentiment. Those of us who know how the Budget is laid out know that this is true.

The most disturbing thing about the new government, is that they really don't know what they should be doing to future-proof the Bahamas.

Yes.

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Jonahbay 1 year, 1 month ago

Where I live the talk is that transfers will become instant very soon. So I can transfer money to my friend sitting next to me at a restaurant and he could receive it instantly and pay the bill. Transferring money online between accounts (or even overseas) is still incredibly primitive in Nassau. Way behind the times...

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Tarzan 1 year, 1 month ago

The best and only way to spur national development is to get the government out of the business of business! When will they ever learn? Government in business is another phrase meaning waste and corruption. Privatize the power company now and keep chauvinistic, government insider, idiots like Mr. Miller as far away from the operation of critical infrastructure as is humanly possible.

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TalRussell 1 year, 1 month ago

Comrades! The PM was smart enough to define his 'hiring freeze' to mean 'no new public sector hiring' which leaves crown ministers to continue to appoint political leaches freely. Case in point the PM (taxpayers) hired 'ACE' as his public scripted face and spokesman's - and 'ACE' (taxpayers) now has hired a team of Six (6) with more media scriptwriters for the PM with even more hiring on the way - all to shield the PM from being asked uncomfortable questions by the media. It's like the PM is hiding in his red shirts Bunker. At least when Minnis was a practicing physician - he actually would have had conversations with his patients. Exactly, how much is Minnis (taxpayers) paying to foot the salaries for the PM personal groupies of scriptwriters?

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DDK 1 year, 1 month ago

TRIBUNE. LOOK AT YOUR HEADLINE. Your errors are growing by leaps and bounds! Do you folks take no pride in your presentation?

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banker 1 year, 1 month ago

I thought so too, unlike I looked closely and thought about it. It is actually one of the times that they are quite clever. It is almost a spoonerism on Minnis' name. This alone gives me hope for the Tribune. It is funny as hell and clever. Minnis is the Minnis-ter of Pain.

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DDK 1 year, 1 month ago

If you are right, my bad. How refreshing! Either that or they lucked out!

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TalRussell 1 year, 1 month ago

Comrades! The PM has his (taxpayers paid) mouthpiece 'ACE' and 'ACE' has Six (6) assistant scriptwriters all operating right out the Prime Minister's Bunker (PMB)....yet not one them, including the PM himself, are willing to talk about the controversial rental of a building the PM entered into with the then PLP Government -so long back now since the original Lease Agreement was signed that the former PM Christie's former law partner Papa Hubert is listed as the attorney on the Lease Agreement. Red Shirts Talk is cheaper than Sardines. It ain't likes the PM can't be asked to explain when he's bumping into 'ACE' and his team Six (6) scriptwriters mouthpieces daily - cause they're right there in the PM's Bunker -all being paid for by you the taxpayers?

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Voltaire 1 year, 1 month ago

Yeah banker, I get the Minnis-ter clever part, but 'of pain' is all wrong. Of reality, or of common sense or something would be fine. Pain for who? This is what we have all been calling for and what we held against the Christie Administration. The headline is just wrong.

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sheeprunner12 1 year, 1 month ago

Minnis has a vision for this country ............ that most shortsighted, selfish Bahamians cannot appreciate - after experiencing the PLP spree

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Publius 1 year, 1 month ago

Pain for who?

I asked this same question. I saw nothing painful in what the Tribune highlighted as axe-swinging. What would truly be painful the government is not likely to want to attempt, or has not thought about attempting.

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baldbeardedbahamian 1 year, 1 month ago

The Administer of pain? This article gives me a ray of hope, perhaps the country can be saved from it's headlong plunge over the fiscal cliff, perhaps we can avoid losing all our investments and property values. Close down Bahamasscare, close down the embarrassment called ZNS, terminate most of the fiscal parasites known as civil servants and then free up privately owned businesses from the burdensome regulations they now labour under and the economy would soar to heights undreamed.

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Space 1 year, 1 month ago

"Minnister of Pain?" Is the Tribune a tabloid now? Odd choice of headline

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John 1 year, 1 month ago

When you cut government spending it is a step back on the right track to getting the government revenue and costs in balance. When you cut government wastage and corruption that is an even bigger stride. But when you grow the economy in addition to reducing spending, corruption and wastage, that is the surest and fastest way to get things back on track. With a robust economy not will government have cut its expenses, but the amount of dollars flowing into the treasury will also increase. And this is where the biggest challenge lies. And a growing economy will not only allow for the circulation of more cash but when people are working or their businesses are successful they are more willing and more able to pay taxes. I sincerely believe the government is moving in the right direction and it really is the people's time now. Let me put on my sunglasses.. the future looks that bright.

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TalRussell 1 year, 1 month ago

Comrades! Minnis will do nothing to undermine the power financial clout oligarchy of those which financed the red shirts to power on May 10, 2017. Why else would they be chasing after the poor and near poor to pay their student loans? They could've but wouldn't remove VAT on everyday 'bread basket' items but wasted no time reducing business owners costs which resulted in a whopping quarter of a million dollars per year savings for just one major business?
Comrade PM, are there any red shirts MP's, Senators, or members your cabinet that hold citizenship other than from the Bahamaland?

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Sickened 1 year, 1 month ago

A 10% cut is a good start and I am happy with it... for now. What I really look forward to is the savings we will see once sensible contracts are issued and the work that is contracted for is actually done. Can you imagine if the people who are paid to maintain government buildings and to maintain BEC generators and clean parks and beaches and to manage the dump and to build government houses actually did what they are paid to do? WOW what a thought! BAMSI for instance would be a world class venture attracting people and scientists from around the world. But what we got is similar to a dilapidated 2 acre farm with no machinery, livestock, seedlings which is surrounded on all sides by toxic industry, for $80 million and counting.

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sheeprunner12 1 year, 1 month ago

Has the public really ever seen a true and accurate photo site depiction of what is out there in the bush in Andros??????? .......... The BAMSI facility is still a mystery to most Bahamians

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Honestman 1 year, 1 month ago

This is a small step in the right direction but there is so much to be done. There needs to be a total transformation of the mindset of the people. We need to learn to live honestly, transparently and with respect for the law and our fellow countrymen. Our politicians must set the example. In this regard, the Prime Minister is clearly setting out his vision. He is to be applauded for what he is trying to do. The medicine is going to be unpleasant for many but we have no choice if we want to avoid becoming a poverty stricken, crime ridden Third World nation. Everyone needs to get behind the government as this is one gigantic task. Christie, Davis and the entire PLP cabinet should be ashamed to show their faces in public given what they allowed to happen under their disastrous five year watch.

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sheeprunner12 1 year, 1 month ago

SUGGESTION: ........... Let the wealthy Diaspora of each Family Island invest in the development of each island with proper government regulations and incentives ......... Let each island invest in their own airline(s), mailboats, electrical grid, manufacturing, airports, water facilities, ground transportation, housing sub-divisions, tourism facilities, sports facilities, entertainment facilities, school facilities, clinics etc. .......... This is a National Development Plan

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TalRussell 1 year, 1 month ago

Comrades! Local Islander Government controlled out Nassau has only created a whole new set power hunger oligarchy islanders.

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John 1 year, 1 month ago

Just how the FNM government rose up out of the ashes and took control of the government, so will forces that be come into play and get this economy moving again. But this time it will be fro the benefit of Bahamians. And for those who were planted to create mischief, if only to paint pictures of doom and gloom, you all will fall on your faces and you will burn in your own shame.

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SP 1 year, 1 month ago

PM Dr. Minnis is unquestionably on the right track. After 50 years of asinine political stupidity, and unprecedented massive corruption, PM Minnis is forced to "very carefully" making an 180-degree turn!

PM Minnis actually has no choice but to align the Bahamas with new global norms in the pursuit of addressing endemic corruption if he is serious about restoring FDI and rating agencies confidence.

Righting of the countries economic trajectory and addressing corruption will indeed be an extremely painful process for many people. However, necessary.

PLEASE continue PM Minnis!

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SP 1 year, 1 month ago

The Bahamas is B-R-O-K-E, D-E-E-P I-N D-E-P-T-H, AND D-R-O-W-N-I-N-G

PM Dr. Minnis needs to get with the program as Jamaica has done and get in on the ground floor with marijuana!

https://alternativeeconomics.co/newsline/1586309-jamaican-scientist-s-marijuana-based-anti-cancer-drug-has-been-approved-by-the-fda-https-t-co-of3aayxeli-https-t-co-x8ghweu4dx

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ThisIsOurs 1 year, 1 month ago

Kudos to Dr Minnis for giving the country one consolidated view of where his government is heading. This is a speech that should have been given the second week in office. It should have formed the basis of all action for the past three months. It says we have more to do than put people in jail. This edict can now be taken by each minister individually and collectively and fleshed out. But at least we will know their actions are a part of one consolidated base level plan. I don't put much stock in the words themselves, the proof of the pudding will be in the eating, but it's the right thing to begin with a holistic view. I don't know what a 10% cut means for example, I expect they don't either, they will have to review budgets and find it. .

I second that neither KP, DAguilar or Dames have lived up to the hype. I'm especially concerned about KP, we need someone heading finance who understands the economy first, second someone with the right instincts to turn the economy around, someone the rating agencies can have confidence in. Again nothing against KP, but this isn't a job that anyone off the accounting floor can pick up and do well at.

(I am troubled by the poor quality of board appointments. Do they understand that these people are responsible for making sure the respective businesses are running properly? Too much politicking when serious minded men are needed. Please remember the FNM is supposed to be different )

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licks2 1 year, 1 month ago

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. . .Bahamians are so full of talk. . .everybody knows how the nation should be ran. . .monday morning quarterbacking is the way of our people. . .I don't understand with all these smart persons in dis place. . .HOW WE GET IN THIS DEEP DUMB SOCIO-ECONOMIC HOLE?? Carry right on there "breens" of the world!!

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ThisIsOurs 1 year, 1 month ago

True enough Bahamians are full of talk, (I include myself), but we got in this hole because the decision makers don't listen to the smart people (I don't necessarily include myself in the latter!), they listen to people they like, people who tell them how wonderful they are and people who tell them what a wonderful job they're doing

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sheeprunner12 1 year, 1 month ago

I agree with both of your comments .......... The time for talking is over ...... What we need now is a proactive, forward-looking plan to re-design the political and economic culture of our country ....... and the country needs to be considered as a whole, not just NP, GB and Abaco ..... there are 30 major islands

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