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Cooper Claims Budget Is Going To Be Brutal

Deputy Progressive Liberal Party leader Chester Cooper.

Deputy Progressive Liberal Party leader Chester Cooper.

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Senior Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

PROGRESSIVE Liberal Party Deputy Leader Chester Cooper says the Minnis administration’s 2020/2021 budget will be “brutal” for ordinary Bahamians.

The budget will be released tomorrow in the House of Assembly.

Mr Cooper’s statement came after Finance Minister Peter Turnquest vowed to deliver social protection and economic stability for residents while acknowledging that COVID-19 will weigh heavily on revenue and expenditure estimates. Mr Turnquest said the budget will be unprecedented. He said he will not sugar coat the problems the country faces.

“The next budget more than anything,” Mr Cooper said, “represents the cumulative impact of a series of poor fiscal decisions in the three previous budgets. These poor decisions started with the disbanding of the revenue task force, continuing with a VAT increase which did not account for elasticity in the economy. The results of the FNM’s budgets have been failed target after failed target and delivered nothing but misery to the Bahamian people. The promise in week ten of this crisis, that the new budget will make sure that no one grows hungry rings hollow. Many Bahamians are going hungry now as the prime minister’s promise of a food delivery network remains just that. The government has a responsibility to protect citizens. Additionally, money allocated and approved but not yet paid out, does little to stimulate the economy and is useless in helping the needy.”

On Sunday Mr Turnquest announced that the government has applied to take advantage of a low-cost emergency loan facility available to member countries of the International Monetary Fund. The $252m facility has an interest rate of 1.054 percent. Mr Turnquest said the loan would come with no strings attached, referring to IMF structural adjustment requirements.

Mr Cooper said: “On the fact of it, 1.05 percent is not an unattractive rate in a market where government 2024 paper is trading at 15 percent, following the recent downgrade and negative outlook. However, the offer raises many questions. We have previously warned about leaving a rainy-day reserve, as well as borrowing headroom. With more than $3 billion borrowed even before Dorian and COVID-19, that Bahamians cannot see or touch, it appears that the chickens may be coming home to roost.”

Comments

Porcupine 4 months, 4 weeks ago

The PLP is no more in touch with the chickens than the FNM. That is a fact most Bahamians can identify with and agree with. Bahamians just choose to be cheerleaders for the rich, listening to the lies over and over again from their "leaders". Show me where there is truly any concern for the poor in this country, besides the soup kitchens.

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moncurcool 4 months, 4 weeks ago

Has Cooper been living under a rock. Does he not realised the whammy from Hurricane Dorian and Covid19 that our country has taken? This is not time for political shenanigans. This is time to try build our country because we are in for a rough ride.

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shonkai 4 months, 4 weeks ago

And in March he wanted to borrow $1bn-$2bn? Also $128M for an e-government, is that an alternative for the I-government?

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birdiestrachan 4 months, 4 weeks ago

After all is said and done. the poor Bahamians will be taxed in order to pay the money back.

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The_Oracle 4 months, 4 weeks ago

He is a young and ambitious politician who can only operate how he has been taught. To expect anything else from him would be foolish. He too will soon be a legend in his own mind. Yes, brutal times are ahead. We are not prepared for it, courtesy of that type above. We have been fat and happy with our folly. Time to pay the piper.

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geostorm 4 months, 4 weeks ago

These people think this is time for games. Our economy has suffered a significant blow. Dorian and now Covid 19. There is no sugar coating. Peter Turnquest and crew have a lot on their plate and there is no easy fix. This calls for serious management, no time for nonsense and foolish talk.

Chester Cooper should be working on giving positive feedback in order to help the government improve our country's situation.

I am so sick and tired of political games. This country is in a tough spot and people are playing politics. It's nonsense!

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