By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Progressive Liberal Party will not commit to leaving the Fiscal Responsibility Act in place if it returns to power, PLP Chairman Fred Mitchell indicated yesterday.
Robert Myers, a member of the Organization for Responsible Governance (ORG), told Tribune Business on Wednesday the opposition should publicly affirm its intention to stick with the fiscal consolidation plan outlined in the 2018 Act whenever it is re-elected to government.
“Frankly, we need to be hearing more from the opposition that they’re committed to that plan also,” he said. “People would like to hear that. I’d like to hear the PLP saying the future is the Freedom of Information Act, the Fiscal Responsibility Act, the Integrity Commission Bill and all those other issues.” Although the integrity commission bill has been tabled in Parliament since 2017, the Minnis administration has given no indication that it will soon debate and pass the bill.
The Fiscal Responsibility Act establishes deficit and debt targets and safeguards to limit government spending.
Mr Mitchell yesterday called the legislation ill-conceived, adding: “The PLP has no obligation to confirm or deny any such thing in the face of a demand from an organization that is not credible. This organization is one of a group of Fred Smith affiliated organizations that engaged in sustained propaganda campaign of disinformation and FNM talking points in the last general election campaign. Try as they might they cannot wipe that stain of political bias from their organization. Those FNM talking points continue today.”
“Further, the public record with statements from both the leader and the deputy leader show the PLP’s position on the fiscal responsibility legislation. It is all show to please the foreign minders but can be dispensed with by the finance minister at the stroke of a pen.”
During debate on the bill last year, PLP Deputy Leader Chester Cooper said there is nothing in the Act that prevents the government from breaching its fiscal targets and approving new expenditure.
“The bill talks about doing many things without consequences for not doing so,” he said.
Mr Mitchell added: “Mr Myers himself has a credibility problem having confessed to cheating Bahamas Customs. A good place to start with fiscal responsibility might well be for each citizen to pay his or her taxes.”
In 2014 Mr Myers stepped down from the Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Directors following a valuation dispute with the customs department over a hybrid Porsche SUV he imported from the US.