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Decide on reductions first - then the amount to cut

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Gowon Bowe

By SANCHESKA DORSETT

Tribune Staff Reporter

sdorsett@tribunemedia.net

GOWON Bowe, president of the Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants, yesterday said the government appeared to be "working backward" on its plans to cut back on the country's expenses, claiming the reductions should have been announced during the recent budget debate.

He also questioned where the cuts will be coming from and how the government plans to ensure important programmes are not affected.

Still, he applauded Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis for announcing the planned cut backs, however he said "mouth can say anything," as he eagerly awaits an explanation on what will be cut from the various ministries and how.

Mr Bowe said the prime minister had the "easy task" of saying what needs to be done, now the ministers of government, in particular Minister of Finance K Peter Turnquest, have the responsibility to carry out the plans.

On Wednesday night, Dr Minnis 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 that 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".

In relation to the ten per cent cut from government ministries, Mr Bowe said the government is working in reverse as the cuts should have come when Parliament debated the 2017-2018 Budget.

"What exactly does all of this mean? Where are the cuts coming from? Will it come from the utilities, programmes, jobs? They seem to be working backward on this one," Mr Bowe said.

"The ministries have set out their agendas based on what was allocated, so they know how and where they have to spend their money. Will programmes of priority be differed and how will it affect education and national security and the armed forces? I appreciate that the government wants to cut back spending and it is needed but what is important is the specifics, we need to have a complete understanding of what is being proposed. We have heard these things before, now we need action. Like Bahamians say, 'mouth can say anything,' this is the benchmark on how they will be judged."

Mr Bowe said he believes the government implemented the hiring freeze in order to make sure "the right persons are in the right roles" and persons are not being employed "for the sake of being employed".

"This will give them the freedom to take on the persons they need. Outside of debt, payroll is a big government expense it's 35 per cent," Mr Bowe said.

"They are going to have to try and maximise efficiency. We have as a country for years, even going back to the previous FNM administration, taken pride in not trying to reduce the civil service work force. I do believe that some attrition will happen, the government will let contracts expire, and retire some persons to shrink the size of the civil service. This will allow them to engage the right persons in the right roles so it won't be termination per say, but they will let the natural order take its course and not keep people employed for the sake of keeping them employed."

Mr Bowe said Dr Minnis' speech was a "sobering reality", but now it needs to be "matched by a clear articulation of plans".

Comments

licks2 5 years, 2 months ago

This man simply don't have the where with all to be sooooooooooooooooooooo everywhere telling how everybody is doing everything wrong. . .he is an accountant just like our DPM. . .go figure!! What plan he is asking for? Did't he read the dang NDP? Man go carry ya backside and read the plan. . .the plan you cried so much for. . .with all them economic plans for the future in it!! Everybody calling for change but nobody want to pay a dang dime to the carrying out of the change!!

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