Here come the cuts.
That’s the message coming out of government as it prepares to deal with the economic cost of COVID-19.
Spending will be down, we are told, with recurrent expenditure to be cut by $100m and capital expenditure to be cut by another $100m – all that between now and June.
Kwasi Thompson, the new Minister of State for Finance, says the government has been forced to seek deeper cuts due to unplanned spending on COVID-19 related food and unemployment assistance, plus $21m in extra subsidies to state-owned businesses.
That’s no shock – we knew all that. In fact, we’d imagine that’s just dipping the toe into the situation.
Anyone looking at the state of the economy over the past year will have seen large numbers of people out of work or furloughed because of businesses – especially the tourist market – having to shut their doors. That knock-on means less income for the government too, through taxation on imports, VAT and so on. People who don’t have money aren’t spending, which means the government gets less back.
On the other end, the government has been paying out to keep people going until the end of this crisis. In short, more money out, less money in. That was always going to have to be paid back.
Looming over all of that is the spectre of our $1.5bn debt payments that are coming due. The acting finance secretary, Marvin Johnson, says he “foresees no challenge” over meeting that debt – but we don’t imagine there’s a lot of room to spare.
We hope those cuts in expenditure will be limited in terms of the jobs that are cut – although those are often one of the biggest areas of recurrent expenditure. Putting more people out of work won’t help the economy to kickstart again – or to help pay those bills at the likes of the Water and Sewerage Corporation or BPL that have stacked up.
But make no mistake – there will be real pain in this for many. It won’t be an easy road back by any means.
One key factor is this – how soon we can get those vaccinations and get our economy running again. Whatever price tag there is on those vaccines, the cost to our economy of not having them will be far worse.
You would think the PLP hardly knew Peter Nygard.
Party leader Philip ‘Brave’ Davis tweeted out that he hopes the women involved in the allegations against the Canadian billionaire receive justice, while Fred Mitchell decided to throw a stone from inside his glass house and said look over there, the FNM got money from Peter Nygard too.
Take a moment and go and look on YouTube – you can easily find videos in which Peter Nygard “takes back The Bahamas” or another one, from which you can see photographs in today’s Tribune, of Mr Nygard shaking hands with the new Cabinet ministers after the PLP’s election victory.
In another recording from 2015, Mr Nygard speaks of having just come from a meeting with then Deputy Prime Minister Mr Davis.
So tweets about justice, we are afraid to say, are just platitudes. What is the PLP doing to assess its links with Mr Nygard? What was said, what was promised, what was done? It is disingenuous to point the finger elsewhere, rather like the Biblical flaw of pointing out the mote in someone else’s eye while disregarding the beam in one’s own.
The PLP must properly face up to its Nygard problem. And not just them. Everyone connected to Nygard must be forthcoming.
The allegations are not just against Nygard, but against all of those involved in helping him build his empire and cover up his alleged wrongdoings. Justice will only be done when all of those who played a part have been held accountable.