By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
THE DNA’s ex-leader yesterday told the government it must “walk and chew gum at the same time” by reducing the deficit and stimulating economic growth, slamming the 2019-2020 budget as the “same old, same old”.
Branville McCartney told Tribune Business: “I wanted to see a budget that would do things to enhance and help our economy and, more particularly, the average man on the street. I wanted to see the government help to facilitate the growth of the economy.
“I don’t see that unfortunately. I don’t see where there are opportunities for employment of our people. I certainly have not heard anything about building new industries. It’s really the same old, same old.”
Mr McCartney added: “I haven’t seen any bold steps taken. We need bold steps to be taken to ensure that our economy gets back on track. That doesn’t appear to be happening from what I’m seeing, so we’re going through another fiscal year with the economy stagnating. People are struggling to put food on the table, pay their rent or pay their mortgage. The status quo remains.”
He warned that government cannot be solely focused on debt and deficit reduction, and neglect efforts to stimulate the economy. “You cannot tax yourself out of a recession, and that’s what they seem to be doing,” said Mr McCartney. “By taxing the Bahamian people more it’s just going to put us more on a downward spiral. The government must walk and chew gum at the same time. Yes, you have to reduce the deficit but you also have to do things to stimulate the economy so that people are back to work and have money in their pockets as opposed to struggling to make ends meet or keep their businesses open.”