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Editorial: Steady As She Goes

Taking care of the cents seems to be saving the dollars when it comes to the latest budget.

The headline numbers were that there was nothing major that was new – but it’s the detail that proves most interesting this time around.

Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest, wearing his Minister of Finance hat, told how a line-by-line analysis of each department’s budget has helped to trim spending.

Rather than just letting departments throw in the same budget request as the year before plus a little bit extra for new projects, taking care of the details seems to have shown areas where some spending wasn’t needed. Funds for salaries that were no longer being paid, for example, with members of staff having moved on but the required funding still sitting in the request list.

We perhaps shouldn’t be too enthusiastic in applauding this – it is, after all, a fairly basic piece of management. Add to that the more disciplined approach to real property tax collections and you have an extra $21m coming in at a time when less money is required. No bad combination.

Ahead of the budget, the whispers had been that VAT might go up – no such measure, as Mr Turnquest signaled ahead of time. Indeed, funds are steady enough it seems that tax breaks have been put forward that will help families in particular – refrigerators and stoves, crayons and pencils among the new duty free items, while a reduction in duty on furniture.

Electric bills of $300 or lower or water bills of $50 per billing cycle being made VAT free permanently will also be welcomed by those in that range.

Overall, rather than leaving us all with a sense that the government is still struggling to right the ship as it wrestles through turbulent economic waters, instead it seems to be steady as it goes for the good ship Bahamas.

There are valid concerns – PLP Deputy Leader Chester Cooper certainly has solid questions about the projected extra income from VAT and the likelihood of bringing in $250m a month according to projections for the last two months when only $190m on average has been raised for the first ten.

However, his cry that the budget is an “epic failure” is the kind of overblown hyperbole that makes people roll their eyes at politicians. Indeed, were he to glance across at the mess that transpired over the BAMSI fire under his leader’s tenure at Ministry of Works, he might in his heart applaud the more detailed look at departmental spending advocated by Mr Turnquest.

More, in saying the government might have hit its revenue targets if not for “reduced taxes” for special interests and a VAT refund to “special interests in Grand Bahama”, he’s essentially admitting that the general shape of the economy is on course barring those areas.

We hope this is the shape of things to come – and that the government doesn’t lapse into politically motivated giveaways as we come closer to the next election.

Now that the ship is sailing more smoothly, let’s keep it that way.

Comments

birdiestrachan 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Small stoves and fridges crayons and pencils not to mention furniture's Is Turnquest serious. when Families can not afford the basic for daily living? How much does crayons and pencils cost in the first place.

Mistakes were made at BAMISI not as much as OBAN so the lovers of the FNM Government and the peoples time voters will applaud them for nothing ZERO

The FNM Government is a Government for the rich and not the poor..

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Economist 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Oban did not cost the Taxpayers anything. Bamsi cost the taxpayers millions.

Birdie, 50 years of massive Budget deficits cannot be corrected in one or two. Peolple don't have any money because it was spent recklessly over the last 50 years.

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birdiestrachan 4 months, 2 weeks ago

AT least BAMSI benefit Bahamians. Check out the land give away for OBAN. The people of Pinder's Point laments day and night about BORCR a storage facility Cancer and other aliments they claim. And you go to the beautiful East End pristine land and put a oil refinery. How Smart is that.??

Bahamians will receive low wages minimum, or they will be casual workers, And when the hurricanes come, they will pack their bags take their insurance money and leave.

There is a saying :If man could learn from history what lessons it would teach"

History Bahamas Princess, and the Our Lucaya just to mention two,

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Economist 4 months, 2 weeks ago

The land has not yet been given away and there is no approval for a refinery for out east yet either. Where is the BAMSI benefit? What lessons did you learn and say what you would have done with Princess and Our Lucaya?

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BONEFISH 4 months, 2 weeks ago

i have not had a chance to have a detailed look over this year's budget. i like the attempt to refit the street lighting.It should reduce the amount of money the government pays to BPL for street lighting The attempt to improve the collection of real property tax was something the FNM government met in place They discontinued it and had to bring it back this fiscal period.Peter Turnquest finally realize there is widespread tax evasion in the Bahamas.That is why he had to recreate the revenue enhancement unit.Those persons were sent home in fall 2017.It was simply a basic budget. Very conservative and nothing special.

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sheeprunner12 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Take one look at the headings for projected 2019-20 Government Revenue ............. How much has that changed since 1973 ...... 1992 ....... 2012???? ............ HMMMMMMMMM

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