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The Budget: Government Debt 'Historically High'

The Cabinet make their way to Parliament for the budget communication. Photo: Terrel W. Carey/Tribune Staff

The Cabinet make their way to Parliament for the budget communication. Photo: Terrel W. Carey/Tribune Staff

photo

MINISTER of Finance Peter Turnquest delivering the budget communication. Photo: Terrel W. Carey/Tribune Staff

By SANCHESKA DORSETT

Tribune Staff Reporter

sdorsett@tribunemedia.net

MINISTER of Finance Peter Turnquest stressed the "historically high burden of government debt" as the new Free National Movement administration sets about the task of achieving economic stability and fulfilling campaign promises.

In his first budget communication in the House of Assembly, Mr Turnquest said the outgoing-Christie administration oversaw the single largest run up of debt in the country's history.

He said the country’s fiscal situation is “far far far more bleak” than the Free National Movement anticipated”, and noted that the previous administration has constrained the government’s ability to carry out their agenda, in its first year. He added that the government will be borrowing $400 million this fiscal year.

He also also criticised the Christie administration for “entering into several contracts” months, weeks and even days before the last general election - a practice he said his government would outlaw going forward.

He said the FNM’s goal is to get the governments debt down to a more sustainable level, and to get the government’s fiscal house in order.

Over the next three months, he forecast a review of government programs to determine how value of money can be enhanced, efficiency of services can be improved, and how money can be saved to reduce the deficit.

During his speech, Mr Turnquest said the GFS deficit at the end of June is projected at 500 million, five times the 100 million forecasted by the Christie administration.

He said there is an excess of $320 million in commitments left by the former government, with new bills being found daily.

As a result, Mr Turnquest said the FNM administration is holding the line on expenditure and only providing money for things of the highest priority.

The Finance Minister also spoke of reducing import duties on building materials, reduction in business licenses, reducing duties on electric motorcycles, providing duty exemptions on machinery for ground repair and maintenance and service of sea vessels and cruise ships and also exemptions on imported original artwork, once approved by the national art gallery.

Mr Turnquest added that the government will release a full list of the governments expenditure so the public can see clearly where the vat money has gone.

Comments

banker 2 years, 10 months ago

It's good to see that the Prime Minister's Office is still using those "secure" pink briefcases that Fweddy bought many years ago. They are quite the things. The briefcase is bulletproof and fireproof, and if you een gat a key, it is almost impossible to get in without a cutting torch.

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jackflash 2 years, 10 months ago

Even better to see someone other then a lawyer carrying it!

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proudloudandfnm 2 years, 10 months ago

We'll never get out from under these damned taxes.

I think its time I left my country. I see no future here....

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ohdrap4 2 years, 10 months ago

it will take a while to clean up.

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DDK 2 years, 10 months ago

But $400 million? What specifically will it be used for? If there is no money to pay current bills how will this new debt be serviced?

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Wideawake 2 years, 10 months ago

Additional borrowing is unavoidable and what must be borrowed should be as little as possible, but cutting back on spending, eliminating waste, curbing corruption and stimulating the economy are by far the most important elements in rescuing our economy.

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sheeprunner12 2 years, 10 months ago

Who is that lady walking beside the PM, Brent and DPM??????........ Is she the Budget expert the IMF bosslady or the latest PM consultant????

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mangogirl01 2 years, 10 months ago

Ms. Camille Johnson, an experienced PS.

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thephoenix562 2 years, 10 months ago

Secretary to the Cabinet Camille Johnson

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sheeprunner12 2 years, 10 months ago

Thank you for the information ......... She has a lot of power!!!!!! ...... LOL

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baldbeardedbahamian 2 years, 10 months ago

IT IS TIME CUT THE AMOUNT THE COUNTRY PAYS OUT EVERY MONTH IN PENSION FUNDS TO PAST PM'S WHO HAVE SERVED TWO TERMS. CREDIBILTY GAP DOES NOT DERVE ANYTHING IN MY OPINION.

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sheeprunner12 2 years, 10 months ago

Agreed ........... this mindless pillage of the Treasury (with no form of contribution) is unsustainable ......... It adds another $1 Billion to the government's real expenditure every year!!!!!!!!!

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ohdrap4 2 years, 10 months ago

you forgot the 85k per year paid to past governor generals and their surviving spouses there are quite a few of them if anyone cares to count.

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TalRussell 2 years, 10 months ago

Comrades! It's Not the People's Budget.....Stupid....It's the Business Owners Dinner Plates Budget!
What's next 'KP? - import duty on Crabs shipped out Andros to Nassau?

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by TalRussell

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proudloudandfnm 2 years, 10 months ago

It will never be cleaned up. The FNM is talking idiocy about bread basket items and tax free zones in Nassau.

It will never be cleaned up....

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Craig 2 years, 10 months ago

I am not surprised at the projected level of the budget deficit. When you have the likes of Jerome Fitzgerald and Shane Gibson in cabinet advising the PM on such matters its no wonder we have these problems. I have no idea what Shane's qualifications are, what a low level union boss? And Jerome, this guy's business failed miserably and he lost his house on PI. These are the kind of people that we given power to run this country and the now we see the result. Incompetence, nepotism and corruption = a broke country. I hope this new crew is a little better!

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sheeprunner12 2 years, 10 months ago

At least the two guys placed in charge of Ministry of Finance are CPAs/CFAs ....... That should account for something ........... Hope Simon Wilson steps up to the plate as Financial Secretary and speaks truth to power

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ThisIsOurs 2 years, 10 months ago

Anyone in that ministry who oversaw the last four years and old contracts should not oversee the next five. Wilson should be moved

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Millennial242 2 years, 10 months ago

Agreed. But on that same trail of thought, then so should the current Commissioner of Police. Debt & Crime has the country crippling.

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ThisIsOurs 2 years, 10 months ago

Fine by me, but Wilson controls the money. Will be interesting to see the audit of finance, perhaps they should send him on involuntary vacation leave...just saying

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screwedbahamian 2 years, 10 months ago

Are they looking for the briefcase that is holding the documents for the sale of Baha Mar.

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TalRussell 2 years, 10 months ago

Comrades! PM Minnis whilst the Leader 'Unofficial' Loyal Opposition Party, made promises that to help reduce the overcrowded population of Nassau Town - that if elected as the red government - as the minister responsible for crown lands - if you returned back to your island of birth or heritage - his red regime - would sign-over a parcel of crown lands to you.....But the only crown lands talked about for signing-over - is the 15 acres on Kelly Island.

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sheeprunner12 2 years, 10 months ago

80% of this country is Crown Land ......... there is no land shortage for us all

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banker 2 years, 10 months ago

I have a solution to Nassau' over-population. We will send all of the PLPs to a Morton's Salt Gulag on Inagua. We don't send food until each one shovels a ton of salt a day.

They should be good at it. They were pounding salt up the rear end of the country for years.

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sheeprunner12 2 years, 10 months ago

Inagua is too good for the PLP to be sent into exile .......... they need to go to V Alfred Gray's caves on Samana Cay ............... BOL

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birdiestrachan 2 years, 10 months ago

HISTORICALY high and the FNM wants to borrow more? They wanted the job at all cost. making promises they never intended to keep, damaging others character, telling lies. now they have the job. get on with it. Trust me these fellows have no vision,

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sheeprunner12 2 years, 10 months ago

We will frame your comments for the benefit of the analysis by next Bahamian generation ............ We trust that you will be proved wrong

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Alex_Charles 2 years, 10 months ago

birdie pull your head out of your party's ass please. They have to borrow to meet government commitments. Public expenditure must be significantly cut but that's only possible after the fiscal situation is arrested that your full of shit party put us in.

I haven't much confidence in this new administration to do virtually anything they pledged to do, but hot damn I'd prefer this over 5 more years of Christie and his Perrynomics

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jackflash 2 years, 10 months ago

I thought that we stopped playing "It's the Peoples Time" outside of Birdies window!

Did someone add a speaker or something?

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MassExodus 2 years, 10 months ago

Birdie you're a fucking idiot. If you don't understand why the government has to borrow money, please don't comment as your dumb as fuck.

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baldbeardedbahamian 2 years, 10 months ago

BIRDIE STRACHAN IS A POLITICAL TROLL. IT CAN ONLY POST GARBAGE. IT HAS NEVER WORKED A FULL TIME JOB IN ITS LIFE.

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The_Oracle 2 years, 10 months ago

Ok Birdie, so this administration should cancel all fiscal commitments made by the outgoing administration in order to reduce borrowing going forward? I like the idea, as damn near anyone entering onto a contract with such a bunch of crooks aught to probably be prosecuted. However, canceling contracts and not paying bills is a sure fire way to lose any Government credibility remaining. Now, if we could go after the $$ stolen, kicked back and otherwise pilfered....... That aught to negate the need to borrow at all! Locking them up would be icing on that cake!

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DDK 2 years, 10 months ago

There you go. That IS the solution!

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ThisIsOurs 2 years, 10 months ago

Will be waiting to hear initiatives for cost cutting and streamlining government.there's plenty, wastage, theft and overpricing of services to correct.

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sheeprunner12 2 years, 10 months ago

HAS THE 2017-2018 BUDGET BEEN PLACED ON THE GOVERNMENT'S WEBSITE AS YET??? ................ IF NOT, WHY NOT??????????

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proudloudandfnm 2 years, 10 months ago

First step. Cancel any contract signed in the last 6 months.

Second. Fire everyone hired in the last 6 months.

Third. Fire anyone even remotely connected to Perry's PLP.

Fourth. PROSECUTE PROSECUTE PROSECUTE.

If PLP cabinet ministers are not prosecuted the PLP will never change and the country will never regain its footing...

We can't have the PLP coming in every 5 years and screwing this country up...

LOCK THEM UP...

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sheeprunner12 2 years, 10 months ago

100% agreed ........... That will be a good blueprint to follow .................. once the Boundaries Commission is appointed, there should be NO MORE government contracts issued without a mandatory open bidding system in place.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 2 years, 10 months ago

Just like the FNM when they won in 2007 and the PLP when they won in 2012. First order of business: Borrow like there's no tomorrow, and blame the last government for having to do so. The big difference this time though: The lending teat ('tit') is now at the lips of the very greedy doctor and his select few cronies. This next five years is going to seem like the last five years - except on steroids! Voters didn't want to THINK! THINK! THINK! They just wanted Christie out at any cost. Well, well, well......only a couple of weeks have gone by and already the groaning and moaning is spreading throughout our country faster than one of our major dump fires.

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sheeprunner12 2 years, 10 months ago

Government is continuous ............ therefore, the incoming government has to honour ongoing commitments whether it agrees with their stated goals/policies or not ........... This 2017-18 budget is on the PLP

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Well_mudda_take_sic 2 years, 10 months ago

Nothing involving waste, fraud, corruption and outright theft by past or current government officials ever needs to be honoured going forward at the taxpayers' expense.....unless of course government as usual is the planned order of business going forward for the sake of continuity if only to ensure the Bahamian people continue to get royally screwed!

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Well_mudda_take_sic 2 years, 10 months ago

Re-post: “Prime Minister Minnis has said accountability and transparency are the two watch words of his administration,” said Minnis's official spokesman, who then continued, “No matter how it’s spun by the opposition audits are going to be conducted across the spectrum of government. That is the only sensible way to get a handle on the state of wherever you are.”

Where's the transparency and accountability when Minnis refuses to tell the public at large who has been engaged to perform each of these ongoing 'forensic audits' and at what cost?! When Hubert Ingraham became PM in 1992, after 25 years of successive PLP governments, he immediately ordered his then Minister of State for Finance, Bill Allen, to arrange for external audits to be done (by a local accounting firm) of the Public Treasury's accounts for the last two fiscal years of the Pindling administration. Ruth Millar was the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance at the time the external audits were conducted. These audits back then cost the taxpayers about $1.5 million, equivalent to about $5 million in today's dollars. Although the accounting firm ended up being unable to give an audit opinion on the the Public Treasury's accounts for numerous reasons, the voluminous reports of their findings arising from the audits (quite literally hundreds and hundreds of pages long) revealed many things that would have shocked and horrified the public, yet these reports were very deliberately suppressed and never saw the full light of day. And not a single person ended up being prosecuted. It seems history is only repeating itself, but we all know (deep down) that Minnis is no Ingraham......he's something much, much worse as we will all be learning soon enough!

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MassExodus 2 years, 10 months ago

It's not borrow like it's no tomorrow, it's more like borrow so that we can pay the debts the PLP accumulated, and also keep the country running and not get further downgraded. If the money is not in the treasury to pay the bills the must borrow to pay them or they cannot and risk defaulting and being further downgraded...

Well_mudda_sic you should be thanking all your boys for this shit hole they left us in.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 2 years, 10 months ago

You, @MassExodus a/k/a @banker, are truly a light weight.

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banker 2 years, 10 months ago

You are a scumbot liar as bad as the PLP. Categorically, and unlike you, I have only one account here. I have detected more of your stupid clone accounts here.

The community here now knows that you are a troll and worse than birdie. Birdie is a partisan. You sir are a congenital and serial liar like Trump. You make up shiite to reinforce your lies and biases. And like all morally deficient people, you assume that everyone lives as a bottom feeder in the same slime that you do, doing the same lying.

I know it is impossible for you to honour yourself by sticking to the truth, but smearing your shiite all over this forum is a reflection on you and you alone. You have lost all credibility, despite what I think is an underlying intelligence in spite of your deviousness and lack of moral compass.

To state the obvious, Mass Exodus and I are not connected, and if your lies were truth, you would be able to check IP addresses. Please go back to the bunghole that you came out of us, and only re-emerge when the truth within you strikes back. (if possible)

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Reality_Check 2 years, 10 months ago

He or she certainly knows how to goosie you but good! LOL

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killemwitdakno 2 years, 10 months ago

Explain this line please?

As for the Balance of Payments, the Current Account deficit declined slightly in 2016, to a level of $1.1 billion, benefitting from re-insurance inflows to finance posthurricane reconstruction.

http://www.thebahamasinvestor.com/wor...">http://www.thebahamasinvestor.com/wor...

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ThisIsOurs 2 years, 10 months ago

Where's banker and economist when you need them? Well it looks like they're saying the "difference" between the dollar value of what we imported and exported in goods and services was reduced slightly and mainly because of monies that came into the country from international reinsurance companies. Those previous people never mentioned that when they kept blaming poor Matthew.

I think this has to do with our US dollar reserves, not completely sure, I stand to be corrected.

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10to1 2 years, 10 months ago

Balance of Payments = all economic inflows vs. all economic outflows

Current Account includes trade of goods and services, and other things like 'transfer payments', aka, foreign aid. CA deficit means more outflows than inflows. If the deficit decreased, or improved, then outflows were down or inflows were up. The inflows were up by foreign aid. If foreign aid increased after the hurricane, CA deficit decreased (improved)... deceivingly; BoP improved...deceivingly. No real value added in exports of assets/ increase of inflows, just donor money inflating CA to look like less of a deficit.

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killemwitdakno 2 years, 10 months ago

Inflation fell 0.35 per cent making it what?

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killemwitdakno 2 years, 10 months ago

Bahamas Power and Light cost reduced by over 50 per cent to 9.8 cents per kilowatt hour in September. That means we can expect bills to be what when the rate of a barrel is what?

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killemwitdakno 2 years, 10 months ago

Labor market improved last yr from construction, so what percent of that increase can we expect to lose this year?

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killemwitdakno 2 years, 10 months ago

Video oN Bahamian capital and financial accounts needed.

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John 2 years, 10 months ago

When you have one percent of the worlds population owning 90% of the wealth you wonder how they do it. Well one thing they do is manipulate the world's economy so that more and more nations have to borrow more and more money. And as the countries become less and less capable of pay off their debt, the interest rates on the debt get higher and higher. Imagine that one percent of the population have the other 99% of the population working for them. And if your life style becomes to comfortable or too relaxed, they raise the interest rate and increase your misery level and/or devalue your currency. Well-muddy-take sick.

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John 2 years, 10 months ago

In the words of Hillary Clinton (of whom I am no fan". "Not only are there people who try to destabilize our government or destroy our economy, but they try to create disunity among us as a people and destroy us as a country."

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