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Govt Will Borrow $722m To Pay Bills

Finance Minister K Peter Turnquest speaks in Parliament.

Finance Minister K Peter Turnquest speaks in Parliament.

By KHRISNA VIRGIL

Deputy Chief Reporter

kvirgil@tribunemedia.net

THE Minnis administration projects borrowing more than $722m to cover inherited outstanding bills along with the costs associated with running the country moving forward, after discovering the current fiscal year is “far bleaker” than anyone could have imagined as the Christie administration left “the cupboard bare,” according to Finance Minister K Peter Turnquest.

The deputy prime minister explained that $400m is 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.

Describing the new administration’s position as “difficult” because it has to grapple with an “historically high burden” of government debt, Mr Turnquest said to continue on this track is “destructive.”

Therefore, he said the government will have to run a ship that is fiscally prudent with an agenda of change aimed at eliminating the deficit to return the debt level to more sustainable levels.

He further pledged to table in Parliament a complete list of subsidies the government awards to foreign developers so that Bahamians can see not only where value added tax (VAT) dollars were spent but how other tax dollars were handled by the previous government.

“To cover the fiscal overhang for 2016-17 we need to borrow $400m,” the deputy prime minister explained to reporters following his budget presentation in the House of Assembly.

“What it means is that we have bills outstanding today that we have to borrow to meet because of the fact that there was no provision made for those expenditures in the previous budget. So in order to make sure that we can pay salaries and that we can pay all of the existing payables that we know about as well as some of them that we are aware of that are still coming in, we need to provide the Treasury with funding to be able to do that.

“You would know that over the last couple of weeks there have been numerous complaints from various institutions that they have not been getting their salary deductions forwarded. All of this is a part of why we needed to do this borrowing to make sure that we meet our commitments to our vendors directly as well as to our employees throughout the civil service who are due these payments.”

He continued: “In our 2017-18 Budget we are projecting that we are going to have to borrow $323m. So it’s two sets of borrowing here.”

“Obviously we are not happy about that. But included in that $323m is a lot of commitments that you can’t just sever. So as soon as we are able to within the next couple of months, we intend to do a detailed project to identify those expenditures to do a complete efficiency audit to make sure that these expenses (and) these costs are legitimate that they are necessary in order for us to function as an effective government,” Mr Turnquest also said.

Bleak prospects

According to the East Grand Bahama MP, while the former Progressive Liberal Party government had forecast a GFS deficit of $100m, the actual out turn is expected to be around $500m. This is five times the budget prediction from 12 months ago.

Speaking to members of Parliament, he said Hurricane Matthew further accounted for the ballooning of the deficit and missed fiscal targets.

“To foreshadow what I am about to discuss, let me be quite blunt: the fiscal situation in the current fiscal year is far bleaker than we could ever have imagined. Our predecessors have literally left us with a cupboard that is bare.

“The stark facts are as follows: the deficit out turn in the current fiscal year features a significant deterioration as compared to the fiscal projections contained in the previous final budget. While they had forecast a GFS deficit of $100 million, the actual out turn is now expected to be on the order of $500 million. That is an astonishing five times the budget forecast of only 12 months ago.

“The sharp deterioration in the state of the public finances in 2016-17 did admittedly flow, to some extent, from the multi-faceted impacts of Hurricane Matthew in early October 2016. On one hand, the hurricane severely dampened economic activity in October, with the impact extended and through to the fourth quarter of the year. As a result, it is estimated that real GDP in 2016 posted a zero rate of growth for the year as a whole, as compared to the Budget forecast of 0.5 per cent growth.

“This directly weakened revenue collections. Recurrent revenues were also reduced through the effects of the exigency order implemented by our predecessors, as a means of providing relief to those impacted by the hurricane. In combination, these factors resulted in a shortfall in recurrent revenue collections to the tune of $216 million, to a level of $1,960 million vs. the $2,176 million budgeted. “Weaker revenues thus account for a significant portion of the $400 million slippage in the GFS Deficit in the current fiscal year.”

He went on: “Hurricane Matthew also affected the expenditure side of the budget, through the actions implemented by the government to assist in the rebuilding efforts and the repair of public infrastructure. For example, the capital expenditures of the Ministry of Public Works were bolstered by over $55 million above and beyond its budget allocation. Total capital expenditures thus amounted to $310 million vs the $242 million budgeted.

“In addition, recurrent expenditures during the year amounted to some $137m more than had been forecast, ie, $2,458 million vs $2,321 million.

“Key contributors to this increase were a higher level of debt redemption, at $21m, as well as higher interest payments on government debt, at $27 million. Total government direct debt at the end of the 2016-17 fiscal year is estimated to amount to $6.5bn or 71.5 per cent of GDP.”

Mr Turnquest said this, however, is not the end of the story in the current fiscal year. He said the combination of revenue shortfalls and accelerated spending contributed to a greater than usual backlog of payments and commitments as the government approaches the end of the fiscal year.

“The latest information has this backlog in excess of $300 million and it is possible that this number could increase before the end of the year as we get a greater understanding of the many deals of the former administration. This high level of outstanding payable is directly responsible for the government seeking emergency funding to meet the obligations of the 2016-2017 Budget, as vendors are clamouring for payments. It is our intention to fully pay all of this backlog of payments and commitments this fiscal year and minimise, to the greatest extent possible, any carryovers into the 2017/18 fiscal year.”

Fiscal improvement

Over the next three months, the government plans to work diligently to improve the fiscal situation and prospects that have been left behind, Mr Turnquest said.

This includes, among other things, an in-depth review of government expenditure programmes to determine where and how value for money can be enhanced, how effectiveness and efficiency of service can be improved and where savings and reallocation can be secured to both finance the government’s policy priorities and facilitate a more expeditious reduction and elimination of the GFS deficit.

“We will strengthen the accountability and transparency of the fiscal operations of government in the Ministry of Finance as such we have embraced and would vigorously implement the IDB funded Public Financial Management project details of which are on the website.

“Also as part of this initiative, to bring transparency and accountability to the fiscal operations, we intend to table in Parliament a full list of financial subsidies provided to developers so the Bahamian public can see not only where the VAT money has gone but where all of the tax money has gone.

“We will also seek to reduce these subsidies to an irreducible minimum and apply a very rigid test on future requests for financial subsidies to ensure that more money is available to finance the operations of the government.

“We will introduce revenue administration legislation which, if approved, would formally create the Department of Inland Revenue and strengthen the enforcement powers and revenue collections. “Individuals and businesses should be alerted that, in this new era of accountability and transparency, this government will adopt a zero tolerance approach to those who do not pay their taxes. We will be fair and transparent in our enforcement efforts but we will also be decisive,” Mr Turnquest said.

Comments

Tarzan 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Oh, gee Brave. I guess the cupboard was indeed bare. What a bunch of brazen crooks!

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Well_mudda_take_sic 6 months, 2 weeks ago

And no one will ever see the inside of prison in connection with all of the money that was and continues to be borrowed and stolen from the Bahamian people, not to mention the squandering of our tax dollars. The only difference is now our rate of borrowing under Minnis will be like never before - on steroids! This is what happens when too many voters refuse to just THINK, THINK, THINK!!

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Reality_Check 6 months, 2 weeks ago

And next comes the coup de grace from the lips of Turnquest by order of Minnis: "We must increase VAT to 15% to help pay for all of this new borrowing."

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DDK 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Please don't be right, Mudda.

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Islandboy242242 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Agree with mudda. Should we really pay all the balances owed if they are illegitimate balances or to fake companies where no work was done? Has all the "invoiced" work been reviewed and checked for accuracy and completion, we're just gonna pay because its on the books? To a tune of 400 million???? Just throwing around millions like they are 10 cent pieces.

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Porcupine 6 months, 2 weeks ago

What is the interest alone on the new 722 million loan? Where is it coming from? How much will each Bahamian pay in extra VAT for the crimes of the kleptocrats?

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TalRussell 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Comrades! Now you know I was not just talking a Billion Dollars beggars cup in hand, hot air. But into 23 days of Red Shirts governing and the first Billion Dollars in loans fast creeping upon 'KP.' They said be careful what colours of t-shirts you elected manage the state's finances....and wait till they add up all the millions for auditing this and that ministry and department of government - yet they decided it would be wise to payoff the vote buying election promises of the former PLP administration?
Is this bunch really the smart business-types?

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concernedcitizen 6 months, 2 weeks ago

There are a couple of things happening , One our air arrivals are down .For two reasons , Cuba is opening and people are no longer going to pay high prices for bad service ,secondly w/ Arbnb ,home away etc tourist on the Island I live choose to stay in homes instead of run down small boutique hotels w high prices . Secondly no country can tax or borrow enough to continue to have 1 in 4 people on the government payroll ,, Air arrivals are down another 3.6 % which means less revenue , I think apart from Abaco and Exuma they have been down the last couple of years and the PLP fudged the figures ,,

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paul_vincent_zecchino 6 months, 1 week ago

Cuba has a long way to go, despite the relentless hype from those who stand to profit from Cuban 'tourism'.

Many people visit Cuba. Once. Curiosity satisfied, they do visit other places instead.

Some who visited said, yes they would go back, in the distant future as Cuba presently is a very difficult, inconvenient and dangerous place to visit.

It's a communist country, North Korea with good weather; not much to recommend it beyond that unless bringing your own toilet paper and toilet seat is your idea of a great trip.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Re-post

Turnquest was quoted as saying:

"Things just keep coming at us. It is unusual that there isn’t one agency that can tell you what all the commitments are and we are finding that we are getting commitments from all over the place in a very decentralised kind of way and that just cannot work. Vendors are clamouring for payments, and it is our intention to fully pay all this backlog of payments and commitments this fiscal year and minimise, to the greatest extent possible, any carry overs into the 2017/18 fiscal year.”

Turnquest has no idea how foolish he sounds. Why should the new government being honouring last minute (mainly illegal) commitments made by the previous government that for the most part involve fraudulent schemes of one kind or another, with the heavy wrongful padding of contracts being just one such scheme! When will Minnis start cutting the heavy fat from a grossly over-bloated public sector that is wasting and squandering hundreds of thousands of our tax dollars with each passing hour?!

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ThisIsOurs 6 months, 2 weeks ago

100% agree!!! I don't know if they've thought this budget through. It's most likely the same budget that Halkitis was going to present.

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sheeprunner12 6 months, 2 weeks ago

This is the problem that downgrading will create for the FNM government ....... the borrowing will come with a higher interest rate ........ We may soon have to pay $800 million per year just to cover debt interest ............ The government MUST find a way to raise another $500 million per year revenue (by hook or court) ....... The former PLP Cabinet should pay that off

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Well_mudda_take_sic 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Re-post:

It's clear now that Minnis has directed all of his cabinet ministers to cry poor mouth in an effort for his new government to go on a borrowing binge as opposed to a desperately needed serious cost cutting program to get rid of the heavy fat and waste in our grossly bloated public sector that continues to devour our tax dollars with each passing day! Simpleton Minnis would have us believe our country needs to borrow its way out of its financial mess. Will someone please remind dimwit Minnis that that didn't work for the last government and it certainly won't work for his government. Minnis needs to grow a pair and get on with the heavy lifting that must be done in cutting significant unnecessary costs in most areas of our government. The people put you in office Mr. Minnis to right the sinking ship - not blow it up!!

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themessenger 6 months, 2 weeks ago

re-post: We are only seeing the tip of the iceberg that sank the SS PLP, there will be many more revelations yet to come. How does one budget for 100 then spend 500? You seem to have more accounting skills than Halkitis, James Smith & Turnquest rolled into one, so tell us how would you pay the bills after your tiefin neighbor cleaned out your bank account, sell crabbie or get a loan? Oh I get it, we can't be overdrawn we still have cheques...........

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banker 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Christie has a hell of a legacy -- Poverty for close to 300,000 people.

I rather suspected that the financial situation of this country was dire. At least we will know how bad the situation is.

I foresee defaulting on some government bonds, and a devaluation of the Bahamian dollar in our mid-term future.

I also see a crash of NIB and a total shutdown or divestiture of BahamasAir. I also see a further selling of the 49% of BTC to raise money.

I see a huge reduction in the civil service, and efficiencies gained by total computerisation. I see an increase in crime and disorder, and even possible civil unrest in the streets.

I see a mass exodus of second home owners, and a crash in luxury real estate prices.

I see all of this suffering as necessary to a re-adjustment of an untenable situation in the economy of the Bahamas.

I see the need for huge austerity measures.

I see the need for dollarisation of the economy, but doing that would create economic chaos at this moment, and it is debatable whether we could stand it or not. However it has to be done. It would get rid of the charade that we call reserves, and it would open up the Bahamas to foreign capital to re-capitalise the economy.

I see pain and misery for the average Bahamian for several years.

I see an exodus of capital. I see a 50 percent loss of the financial services industry by this time next year, and a 5% decline in tourism. I see the failure of BahaMar as economically not viable in this uncertain fiscal, monetary and social climate.

I can't see hope unless the FNM start swinging a big cleaver and start swinging it soon. The problem is where to chop to hurt and bleed the least.

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Islandboy242242 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Dam...dats grim my brudda, might be true and we need to realize the seriousness but looks scary in text.

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Publius 6 months, 2 weeks ago

@banker I agree with much of what you stated.

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paul_vincent_zecchino 6 months, 1 week ago

Agree. From all one reads and hears, the damage has been done, and it runs broad and deep over the long arc.

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TalRussell 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Comrades! Few doubted the previous PLP administrated operated under financial chaos and indecisiveness management . But what - It's the People's Time' - were not expecting was that it would quickly show signs of it becoming the new normal under the Red Shirts '4th' governing mandate. All the signs are there that there will be a repeat of ministerial incompetency and poor governing decisions. The 4th Red Shirts administration have not presented a plan to revolutionize the system of governing...... But will repeat the mistakes of past administrations - by attempting to spend and borrow in the name of the people - their way through their 5-years governing mandate.
Pretty damn, sad state of affairs that no politician seems to grasp!

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MassExodus 6 months, 2 weeks ago

We all expected this major borrowing, because we knew the PLP fucked the country up. Why did the PLP even submit a budget? They committed to 5 times that of what they budgeted for. Of course they will have o borrow to meet commitments... Get your head out of your ass.

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concernedcitizen 6 months, 2 weeks ago

It is a balancing act ,if you cut government spending too quickly the economy will crash , if you send home tens of thousands of civil service workers you will have hungry people losing their homes and civil unrest . You have to quit hiring civil service employees for the next ten years .Start getting revenue from the Airbnb rentals ,, On another note the PLP used foreign consultants for everything even the gaming referendum ,,this was to get money out of the country and into their ,The PLPS ,accounts ,,an rough guesstimate would be at least 500 million to a billion stolen in the last five years ,,geez 40 million alone walked out of Road traffic ,,another 100 odd million from BOB ,, This was theft on a massive scale

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ThisIsOurs 6 months, 2 weeks ago

There's more to cut out than jobs. Those contracts are inflated. We ALL heard credible stories of contracts padded with kickback from the issuers. It's rampant. The true reveal on Fire Festival, BAMSI, UR, Environment , MOW, PHA, MTA, MOFA should be very interesting. There's a lot of fat to be cut before one job is lost. The question is whether Turnquest is up to it, I'm not sure, I hope he proves me wrong.

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BahamaPundit 6 months, 2 weeks ago

I must say I am disappointed with the FNM budget disclosure. I voted for change and this seems like more of the same old bag of tricks: borrow the country into the ground, nobody goes to jail, nobody is named, no real information or details are released. Heck no!!!! Things got to change. This is the people's time. Junk bond status is all this borrowing will achieve. No creativity. Nothing fresh. Who made the 30 million for tje sidewalks? Who mad the ten million for NHI consultation? We want names!!!!

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observer2 6 months, 2 weeks ago

I'm skeptical that the government actually has $400 million in unpaid legitimate invoices. The simple solution is not to borrow the $400 until the bills are verified. If the funds are borrowed then it immediately legitimizes the bills and everyone will be calmorouring for payment. Each bill must be fully scrutinized and make the vendors wait. People are doing sloppy work or provide fraudulent invoices to the government because they know if they wait long enough they will be paid. And what about the $800,000 Ingram said was missing from the Treasury?

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Islandboy242242 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Agreed. I would think people may be clamoring in the hopes that the govt would rush to quiet them and just pay the bill, but they may end up finding 200 out of 400 million is for unfinished work, supplies that aren't even in the country etc.

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tell_it_like_it_is 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Make sense. If the new government has spoken about the corruption of the old administration so much, why would the first thing you do is honor possibly corrupt invoices without properly vetting them first. Who would just pay out $400M without greater scrutiny. Come on Dr. Minnis, let's be wise.

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MassExodus 6 months, 2 weeks ago

I don't think the government is that naive that they are just going to pay these vendors. Of course they will do their due diligence! They are just formally letting the pubic know of the former administrations financial commitments and how dire it would have been...

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TalRussell 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Comrade BahamaPundit, it's a crazy political world out there. One first acts the former PLP administration was to spend $1 million hiring auditors to audit the National Insurance Board's (NIB) practices under the "3rd" Red Shirts regime.
Isn't "KP" not using the exact same auditors playbook as the former PLP's minister of finance.
It's all a joke but unfortunately its the people who always are left to foot the auditors bills.....likewise......not a damn thing will come out it to benefit the people, or to alter the questionable ways NIB runs crazy with the peoples contributions monies.
Comrades, I do not say the things I say because I support a particular political party. I says them because it's how I see them.
Bad governing decisions is bad governing decisions. Tief's is tief's - regardless colours they t-shirts! The Red Shirts know that one they own got convicted over his under-da-table crookedness over in the boardroom at BEC, yet they never asked for a BEC audit. Why not?

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TheMadHatter 6 months, 2 weeks ago

So in other words YOU wont get to know the itemized list that makes up the $400M and furthermore there will be no comprehensive transparency until the new IDB funded system is put in place.

So in truth there will never be any transparency because the true purpose of the IDB software is to monitor our finances in detail and for them to choose the correct timing to devalue the Bahamian dollar.

Secrecy under the PLP. Secrecy under the FNM. But thats what the people have grown to love for over 40 years.

TheMadHatter

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TalRussell 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Comrade the Madhatter, my only point is this. If we're trying to make some sense out of the 'auditing' positions being taken by Minister Finance "KP"... If we only read things written by red shirts for the purpose of denouncing PLP's - we won't see any signs leading to revolutionary changes in the way the Bahamaland is to be governed over the next 5-Years.
There is nothing revolutionary about spending another million dollars to re-audit the NIB, if the reckless spending workers contributions are allowed to continue.
Why not start-off your mandate with the revolutionary construction of 4,000 Two-Bedroom low-cost homes in Nassau, Freeport and the Family Islands, that can be built at a cost of $25,000 per home [ built on crown lands turned into subdivisions ] - for our financially challenged citizens?

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John 6 months, 2 weeks ago

The provobial economic cloth is on the table. The government must now cut and sew the suit accordingly. Failure to stimulate the economy, cut excess spending, waste and T'iefin will lead to financial downgrades, increased taxes and more government debt increased borrowing. Let's work and fix this!

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banker 6 months, 2 weeks ago

For once, I totally agree with you.

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athlete12 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Its simple, have more money coming in than going out. There pretty much know money coming in. VAT comes from the people so what do we export? Tourism is pretty much non-existent, cruise line and hotels aren't enough.

We need to decriminalize or legalize marijuana. Lower crime because you devalue the dealers product and we take a lot of our youth out foxx hil. The world thinks its legal here anyway. Regulate it and tax it for recreational and Medicinal use.

Canada is moving in this direction and they are probably the best example to follow. We cannot afford to be 30 years behind this one.

Our think must be outside the box because the one we're in hardly worked 30 years ago.

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banker 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Agree. To regulate it, I see it that it has to be illegal to import it. It must be grown here. And there must be quality control to insure a safe product with consistent dosage.

We could do several things with this concept. We could increase stop-over visitors and increase hotel occupancy with medical marijuana tourism. We could follow the Amsterdam model and have marijuana and soft designer drug cafes that would increase tourism.

Alcohol is scientifically proven to be more socially destructive than marijuana, and yet it is a big part of the economy. As you point out, it is time to get with the times and increase our GDP.

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SRM10 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Response to the Countries Budget Debate :

The Budget was straight nonsense filled with untrue disclosures ........... 722 million thats tryna get borrowed , knowing full well none of it will generate revenue for the country but perhaps pay past due bills ...Y so much money , it will take almost 7 generations to pay back.......But the debate did speak to the 1.1 Billion in residual revenue , and guess what ...they using the plp vat reform to do so along with egov, which means the incoming administration does not have a viable plan moving forward for revenue generation....1.1 VAT +Egov residual revenue, NOT JUST VAT unless the count egov and VAT as 1 entity in revenue, but in accounting laws thats impossible as 1 is a product and the other is the tax on the product ...Obviously the incoming governing party does not realize this or they plan to lie to the people for 5 years like the alternate governing party did ........Disgusting they don’t even know where they are getting the 1.1 billion every year to spend and not interested in finding out according to that budget debate , that’s not moving the country foward but just hung the next generation to the gallos when the current admin feet should be to the fire.............................no future economic plan .................... ? At least let its worth match Egov+VAT, a challenge for the new PM, please do embrace.. Not one time was egov mention in the debate , the country is not withstanding on just vat , and some accountability has to occur effective IMMEDIATELY , someone has to question where is the funds from the 17 + Connected government ministries on the egov network that are responsible for creating revenue from different programs from within their division of governance ... e.g Ministry of Transportation , Road Traffic department falls under , one revenue program they have on egov website is for the renewal of drivers license "department revenue on the shelf product" + VAT added to the price , now saying that, each ministry should now be catapulting to creating the revenue along with the other ministries .................

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banker 6 months, 2 weeks ago

cancel ... i just read your second post.

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SRM10 6 months, 2 weeks ago

.Not using the egov network to its efficiency level notice I did not say maximum level results always in revenue money being left on the table/missing money /$400M in bills left behind and the politicians redlining their pocket with the rest claiming they walking away with big bag o money to ...Egov is a fail safe network that will send all hands in the cookie jar to jail as its electronic audit is relentless when locating missing revenue , NIB,BEC,BTC , are just a few with millions in capital missing because they refuse to use the egov platform as government mandated that is y all the stealing is occurring ....Hurricane relief was just an offset for the missing 400M excess.......not blaming plp as this bs started under the current admin 2 terms ago and continues today ....Without sharing the vision public service employees will never carry out revenue generation as prescribed but monkey see monkey doo aye.............and Just to think that they got 5 years with an empty RED briefcase , smh.....apparently there is nothing in it but bills ? Mr. PM I beg u, Sir Knowledge is Power and thus I share with you Sir Tourism has been mentioned as barley improving but #1 revenue generation the country today "egov and vat "leaps and bounds like a bicycle free wheel, and yall cant be safe guarded from sticky fingers.....Yes Mr. PM tourism has not been our main source of revenue for the last 7 years HELLO............Please educate the Bahamian populus so that the country can move forward financially ..............Thank You again Mr. PM
Besides spending the Egov(Product)+Vat(TAX) = revenue = 1.1 bill estimate annually , residually , over the next 7 years to even out what u are trying to borrow (722M) , just one question , WHAT exactly is in the RED briefcase called economic future besides the BILLS and I don’t mean LAW bills but past due bills $$$$$....... And from now on when y’all speak to the people speak English, every day English and continuous communication ……. Stop using words that the average voter will never understand as those words u guys use are Professional Synonyms of the English words are asking you to use ……….“a $2 million provision has been made in this Budget for electronic notepads for two of our preschools. "(personal campaign adgendas)…… This was a request I made of the last FNM administration before the launch of egov” …for all public schools to benefit from …., however thank you for finally realizing that education is a key to success , 2 M will fund every child a ipad in the public schools , at 100,000 students *$250 per unit at discounted bulk government vat free rate via Apple Computers , I am sure $2500,000 will cover , truth is not sure if we have that many students , see we have to audit yall from day 1 , no longer will we wait for 5 years …….

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BahamaPundit 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Yes. We need radical changes to stimulate our economy: 1. Legalize marijuana right away; 2. Open sex tourism type resorts... etc. Our tourism product is stale and boring. We need to spice things up completely!

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TalRussell 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Comrade BahamaPundit, means open legalized Vegas likes boutique "Bunny Ranches"..... But likes the legalization the numbers houses, will it not result in the closing down of illegal prostitution houses - or maybe they're still operating them illegal numbers houses?

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banker 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Been to the Daily Grind lately?

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BahamaPundit 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Everyone is killing us because of sex tourism. Jamaica, Dominican Republic and now Cuba. We want to attract high rollers and high rollers like girls. Either we become more sexy or our tourism product will diminish.

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TalRussell 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Comrade I know "KP'" likes “trade offs'.......but not if it would require our woman's citizens be trading off they clothes to engage in 'legs spreadeagled' legalized pimping - all for the taxable benefit of the state's public treasury.

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BahamaPundit 6 months, 2 weeks ago

So many no brainers: 1. National lottery scratch cards. Done. 2. Legalize Marijuana and prostitution/strip clubs. Done. 3. Completely open Free Port to American companies and persons. No work permit required. Done.

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banker 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Completely open Free Port to American companies and persons. No work permit required. Done.

This one is so easy and could be so lucrative. And what we could do, is open up residency restriction to digital nomads -- self employed tech guys who work remotely and live anywhere. They still like the old fashioned sun, sand, sea and beer that other tourists find outdated, especially when it is part of their work environment.

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MassExodus 6 months, 2 weeks ago

I agree with 1) and 2) but I think 3) we should consider opening Nassau up to people with common sense, no work permits required. Our D- average would surely rise significantly.

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sheeprunner12 6 months, 2 weeks ago

THIS IS NO TIME FOR YOU TRIBUNE BLOGGERS TO BE SO FLIPPANT ABOUT THIS SITUATION ......... PRAY THAT THIS GROUP OF CPA & CFA FELLAS IN THE M.O.F. BRING THIS FISCAL CHAOS UNDER CONTROL IN THE NEXT 3 YEARS ........ OR ELSE

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banker 6 months, 2 weeks ago

else ...

the close to a billion was a shock.

As far as being flippant, the die was set when Crisco Butt squandered away the first receipts of the VAT.

I am with you in the fervent hope that the pros (CPAs etc) can pull this thing off, but the criminal PLP have put us in a very deep hole and the oxygen is running short.

In this case laughter is the only medicine for the soul.

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Alex_Charles 6 months, 2 weeks ago

The former administration ramped up a crap ton of contracts right before the election. Among them were sir Bethel's contract of 6 figures. I can't even say this is new because the FNM did the same shit in 2012.

Just release the documents to the public and expose this shit then outlaw it. The PM needs to divest himself from his contracts as well.

I know damn well Minnis won't do it and that very little will change as Bahamians will sit on their asses and let history repeat itself. Heads need to roll and people need to go to jail.

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TalRussell 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Comrades! Shouldn't you base things on evidence?
The UBP, PLP & Red Shirts "1st", "2nd", "3rd" and now "4th" governing regime, all seemed to kick-off their first days, weeks in office by spending 'smokescreen" millions dollars - with a holier-than-thou attitude that they going uncover this and that about the previous administration - yet where is the evidence where they ever used the evidence to charge the corrupted in order to do justice by the people?
Comrades you know it's all bullshi#, right? In the end they will serve not the people but to protect the their own kind political class.
Case in point.....has KP ever heard of Renard Wells, cause whilst in opposition KP stopped just short of asking for an full audit over Renard Well's $650,000 Letter of Intent? You can believe in them, but they're not binding in political credibility with this Comrade.
Where and what in the hell is Renard serving in today..... And in which capacity?

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TalRussell 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Comrade Banker, you really should try experience a come to Jesus moment. If you don't like Jesus, the devil will take you back......cause only someone full of the devil, would call for completely opening Freeport to American companies and persons. No work permits required. The only done in your done - is Wallace Groves [ who had the final say on whom got work permits ] tried this before and Freeport went nowhere. Freeport's only hope of financial rescue is to not just bend the Hawksbiil Agreement but to rip it up and burn the outdated sucker of an agreement - of which the Bahamalander citizens being the number one suckers since the 1960's. A private family's corporation owns a nation's second city. Really....you can't be serious?

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sheeprunner12 6 months, 2 weeks ago

True Tal ........ The government needs to take back Freeport now ..... the Groves is dead and the St.Georges and Haywards cannot help us anymore ..... Their shell companies have taken all of Freeport's wealth out of the country and left us with the cheapskate Chinese

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TalRussell 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Comrade Sheerunner12, hardly likely this red movement will move to remove Freeport from under the Hawksbill Creek Agreement - when the very first action taken by Minister Finance "KP" was to roll out the red carpet to keep Freeport's status quo, tax-free.

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banker 6 months, 2 weeks ago

I agree about taking back the private ownership. But what I don't agree with, is giving it to the Nassau government. It should be an economic zone that is a city state unto itself that is totally free.

Like this:

http://www.caymanenterprisecity.com/

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TalRussell 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Comrade Banker, to be honest, I haven't in years read the Hawksbill Creek Agreement - but I'm pretty sure there's a clause that gives Freeport Business Licensees, a Veto power over the actions of the Port Authority? I think it requires a body of 80% Licensees to Veto? I also don't recall Licensees ever using their Veto?
Comrade Banker, don't you agree that a good start at restructuring the Hawksbill Creek Agreement, would be to amend the 80% requirement to require a majority vote by Licensees of 50% plus 1, to veto - and only allow citizen Licensees to vote to Veto?

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banker 6 months, 2 weeks ago

I may have told this story in public before, and if I have, please excuse me. I had a client who used to visit Freeport in 1980's. He fell in love with it. He wasn't an Ultra High Net Worth Individual, but he was fairly loaded -- a millionaire many many times over. He wasn't using us as a tax haven either. He was paying taxes in Canada & wanted to escape the winter & move to Freeport. Furthermore, he wanted a relocation, because a move to Freeport and a transfer of his domicile & business would automatically reduce his income tax, as Canadians are taxed on residence & not citizenship. If you live full time in an income tax free country, you don't pay Canadian income tax.

At the time, the development arm of the Port Authority (Devco, I think) was building canal-side houses. He inquired about about purchasing one & was met with an eager-beaver sales person. The sales person handed him a card that was half the size of a sheet of paper. It had room for name, address, telephone no, business number, etc, and it had six questions on it.

The six questions all had to do with establishing net worth -- yearly income, investments, investment income, business income and the sixth question was "do you have assets totaling .... I think it was 1 million dollars." The threshold was very low. Get this ... the final step was that when the card with the answers was taken to the back room, the "manager" came out of the office momentarily to take a quick peek at the person. My client was convinced that it was the last test, and it was a skin pigmentation test. Anything over a light shade of mocha was unacceptable.

So, my client passes the test, and the salesman starts showing him the particulars of the dwelling. My client, who in an earlier life owned a construction company asked the price. When it was quoted, he did a quick calculation using a cost per square foot metric. He had a quick thumbnail sketch of how much per square foot it cost to build a luxury home, and this seemed to be 3 times what he thought it should cost -- particularly since there wasn't granite counter tops and the materials and workmanship that he was used to.

The manager came out, and said that he was authorised to reduce the price of the house by $210,000 and that pending verification of his financial data, all that he had to do, was put a down payment of $100,000 and they would finance his mortgage at an attractive rate. But, the application fee to set this all in motion was something ridiculous -- can't remember whether he said $2,000 or $5,000, but it was exorbitant just for applying.

My client was not pleased at all at the ethics of these people, and instead, bought a condo at the Taino Beach complex. Along came hurricanes Jeanne and Frances, and his condo building was destroyed. The insurance paid fair market value, and his investment was repaid handsomely.

But the moral of this story, is that not only Bahamians have issues with the Port Authority.

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Publius 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Right. The worst thing you could do to Freeport is try to repeal the HCA to give the city to the government.

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Publius 6 months, 2 weeks ago

As long as it is "easy" from the government's perspective to borrow, the excessive borrowing will not stop. Successive governments take comfort in what they feel is our continued ability to afford to borrow. It is why they do not make any of the hard choices and there is zero innovation and little to no common sense injected into the country's financial management. When you look at the budget, recurrent spending is projected to continue to be higher and higher year to year than that of the Christie's administration's final year in office. That is madness. The government is not behaving as if we are in a state of emergency. On this track we might as well call it a day right now.

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Greentea 6 months, 2 weeks ago

This is a tragedy. Borrowing almost a billion dollars to pay past due accounts? Poor decision making from the get go. All the glow from May 10 gone.

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ThisIsOurs 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Don't come back for more anytime before June 2018. Do not throw away this money on unnecessary programs. Cut out the fat, send a strong, concrete, public message to your ministers and govt employees on the ethics of issuing contracts and providing service to the public.

No more bribes or extortion, they ultimately cost the treasury in inflated contract pricing. All of you govt officials who ask people to pad the contract with 5,000 dollars are STEALING from the treasury. All of you govt officials who create businesses and use insider info to secure contracts while delivery sub par work are STEALING from the treasury, cuz it has to pay for someone else to complete or redo your work. How. Any government vehicles do we really need? Is UR being run efficiently. What is BAMSI? Three years later and the campus still isn't open. Send them to Trinidad or COB. UOB is a farce btw.

There a lot of wastage at environment. We expect to see the costs drop dramatically now that the contractors don't have to allegedly pay 10,000 per month in kickbacks.

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sheeprunner12 6 months, 2 weeks ago

The FNM administration needs to sit down and evaluate whether following the BTC model will actually benefit the overall economy of The Bahamas ......... Has the sale of BTC improved customer service, phone rates, job spin-offs etc to the population??????????

What would be the effect of PPP/privatising BEC???? ........ ZNS???????......... BOB?????......... Bahamasair???????........ What purpose do Nassau Flight Services, Hotel Corporation, BDB, BMC, BAIC, etc serve, other than cushion politically-appointed jobs???? ....... They just need to be dissolved ............... Why keep subsidizing UB, BAMSI, BTVI or private schools??????? ..... Why own the Dump or continue to collect garbage by DEHS?????? ......... Why does the government need to own ambulances or fire trucks??????.......... Why does the government need to operate 150 public schools and hire 4000 police and 4000 teachers?????? ......... Why does the government need to own 30 airports or 50 island clinics?????? Why do the Out Islands not become autonomous municipalities responsible for retaining and managing at least 75% of their taxes????

The CENTRAL government must be trimmed by at least 30% of its spending, infrastructure and civil service over the next 5 years and provide private sector opportunities for these non-productive government departments or sectors

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DDK 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Quite right. What part of these obviously correct suggestions do our newly elected officials not understand? To continue in the same vein is lunacy, pure and simple.

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BahamaPundit 6 months, 2 weeks ago

BahamaPundit says... It is time to free Free Port!!! Remove all restrictions to US and Canadian persons and companies moving there for comercial purposes. No work permits required. No duty. No BIA approvals. The Government would still make a killing from stamp tax, VAT and company incorporation fees. If this is done, Free Port real estate would pop overnight. In ten years, it could become another NYC with skyscrapers etc. Nassau residents would flock there due to its booming economy and Nassau would become less over populated. The US government would start investing in The Bahamas again. Only sector reserved strictly for Bahamians should be the commercial fishing sector. We would still have the rest of The Bahamas all to ourselves. We have no choice. We are bankrupt! Time to be innovative. Time to put The Bahamas on the map again. It is time to free Free Port or die a slow death of financial stagnation and ruin.

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baldbeardedbahamian 6 months, 2 weeks ago

governments do not create wealth. this what the plp leaders have never understood. because the government controlled the money supply through printing and minting currency they thought they could make money out of thin air. it does not work like that, only private businesses create wealth through adding value through production. raw materials plus labour produces something with more value than its constituents. this is how wealth is created in an economy. yhe government then taxes the businesses and the products and uses this money for education and, until recently, to fly fweddy and friends on paid junkets round the world. it also uses the money to pay the salaries and pensions of thousands of fiscal parasites called civil servants . the government will never correct our failing economy until it gets rid of most of these parasites. we need to keep some of course, educators, police, medical staff. but please close the useless corrupt zns, the useless defence force, the bankrupt BOB, bahamasair, ministry of tourism, BAMSI, etc.

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gbgal 6 months, 1 week ago

Let's see these bills! This amazing level of debt is the people's greatest worry. Accurate or padded? It boggles the mind and we fear we can never pay it off!

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sheeprunner12 6 months, 1 week ago

Good point ...... The FNM needs to lay EVERY PLP bill on the table for the people to verify before they start paying off a bunch of PLP sweetheart deals and contracts

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BahamaPundit 6 months, 1 week ago

I agree. Most of these bills could be voided and xorrupt dealings. The rest could be voided for fraudy workmanship. Those sidewalks are terrible, crooked, slanted, rushed. We want to see the bills before a dime is paid out. It's our money! It's our time!

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Maynergy 6 months, 1 week ago

“Behind Grey Curtains” by P. Carl Gibson decodes a development agenda for the Bahamas that ought to be told. Mr. P. Carl Gibson is indeed a brilliant storyteller of the history of the new and independent nation, which has demonstrated and thrived minimally to grow and or parcel out with fairness to all residents any sense of pride, where equilibrium should be praised and admired.

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TalRussell 6 months, 1 week ago

Comrades! Funny how the Red Shirts "KP" and Dionisio, seems be ducking away from any attempt to shine some light when it comes to transparency to expose how deeply the ministry of tourism's and other ministries and government departments and appointees involvement with the doomed for failure Fyre Festival - that has left the unfulfilled promises cupboard bare of funds pay the many millions dollars of ticket holders, workers, local and international contractors, suppliers, performers and individuals? How could the Red Shirts, not have immediately launched an public inquiry to better understand that the crookedness could never have been to pull off - without government's involvement? The Fye Festival was an massive on scale things - well orchestrated vehicle for massive crookedness on a Bahamaland island and this red government should not be ducking away from uncovering all local conspirators - regardless what is they political colors party affiliation t-shirts. The Royal Bahamaland policeman's, have been called on to investigator much smaller crookedness matters - so why not in the case of Fyre?
Comrades, people in government had to have been involved in allowing what can only be described as a '"Tent Shanty Town" to be promoted to the world.

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banker 6 months, 1 week ago

There is something really fishy about Fyre. I still have access to a Bloomberg screen, and along with financial news, there is a news portal and one for legal news. There was an article stating that lawsuits are initiated against the organisers, and the lawsuits allege fraud. The plaintiffs in the case have documentary evidence stating that the organisers "SAID" that they were being granted close to nine million in Crown land, and that was supposedly the collateral for loans given by famous people to guarantee the funds. Even the lawyers on both sides of the question cannot verify if in fact that the Ministry of Tourism offered the land -- even on a verbal basis. I rather suspect that the Tourism officials did not keep notes of meetings like James Comey did after meeting Trump.

There are a lot of curious things here, and the courts in the US may get to the bottom of it. I am wondering if an LOI surfaces in the Ministry. You can never take anything that PLP says at face value.

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TalRussell 6 months, 1 week ago

Comrade Banker, this is but a test shot fired across the bow of the Red Shirts promises of transparency. It would have been impossible to pull off something on such a large scale on a tiny isolated island - without local involvement. But this red regime seems not to want to questions the obvious culpability of government in marketing Bahamaland's first intended "Tent Shantytown" for foreigner rich white folks. The only issues surrounding this "Island Shantytown's global fraud is the question of local culpability in line to have stood to financially line their pockets from it?
Comrade Banker, let's acknowledge that He who paid the Piper, picked the tunes to be played on that tiny island? A black nation's tiny island's residents - played for fools!

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ThisIsOurs 6 months, 1 week ago

That's funny shantytown for rich people, with "outdoor" toilets and all, lol. D'Aguilar's nonchalant response to clear unethical conduct by a staff member really disappointed me...he said "the superiors didn't know she was involved", basically...that's a giant ding ring ding "unethical conduct, time for disciplinary action" bell ringing in your head.

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ThisIsOurs 6 months, 1 week ago

Who knows what they were doing, probably using crown land like personal currency. #50millionshadesofgrey

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Truism 6 months, 1 week ago

Wow! Those PLP left such a mess that we can't begin to think how we're gonna fix this. The true gist of the entire budget communication.

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