By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
THE Opposition leader yesterday said his party has “grave concerns” over the outcome of Standard & Poor’s (S&P) visit to the Bahamas this week.
Philip Davis based his fears on the “knee jerk reactions” of the Ministry of Finance, and “the many confusing, misleading and contradictory statements by the Minister of Finance and the acting financial secretary to date”. S&P is visiting for its annual assessment of the Bahamas’ creditworthiness and associated rating, and will focus primarily on this nation’s economic and fiscal performance.
S&P last December handed the Bahamas a ‘junk’ creditworthiness downgrade, and Mr Davis said: “Considering the knee jerk actions of the Ministry of Finance since May 2017, and the many confusing, misleading and contradictory statements by the Minister of Finance and the acting financial secretary to-date, the Progressive Liberal Party has grave concerns about the upcoming consultations and the outcome of the review process.
“Of particular concern is the flippant dismissal of over 30 Bahamian professionals from the Central Revenue Agency last week. I am advised that these individuals were assigned to, and were working on, various revenue enhancement projects that to-date proved to be extremely successful in improving the Government’s revenue performance, specifically in the collection of much elusive and long outstanding taxes.”
Mr Davis added: “The Government’s dismissal of these professionals must also be viewed in light of the fact that the Bahamas has the least number of revenue collection agents per capita of taxpayers in the region.
International financial institutions have advised over the years that the Bahamas is grossly understaffed in the area of revenue collection and administration.”
He argued that there appeared to be no clear plan as to where the Bahamas was headed in terms of revenue collection and financial management.
“The Government seems focused on undoing all of the good work done in the interest of the economy and all Bahamians,” Mr Davis said. “Their actions have essentially resulted in the dismantling of the various revenue projects left in place that were yielding positive results to the benefit of the country.”