Deputy Progressive Liberal Party leader Chester Cooper.
By YOURI KEMP
Tribune Business Reporter
The opposition’s shadow minister for finance says that the deficit is nearly 350 percent than presented in the ministry of finance’s latest fiscal snapshot for the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2019/2010.
Chester Cooper, also the Progressive Liberal Party’s (PLP) deputy leader, said in a statement: “While the marketing department of the Ministry of Finance is to be thanked for yet another colourful fiscal snapshot report, these are of little use to the Bahamian people at this point.
“The PLP is less interested in last quarter’s fiscal performance than it is in examining the current state of the Public Treasury and having sight of this administration’s plan for economic recovery.
“Given the severity of the crisis, the information in this report is dated. We are nonetheless examining the numbers closely and will have more to say in due course.
“The government’s disastrous mismanagement of the crisis has wreaked havoc on the economy, making it worse than it had to be as businesses have been unable to plan and pivot as quickly as the rules change.”
“As for the fiscal snapshot, we are on record that the management for fiscal affairs over the last three years has been horrendous, even before COVID-19 and Dorian.
“We note that the deficit, at $788m, is roughly 350 percent more than the prior year and almost $110m more than forecasted in June.”
The ministry of finance released its fourth quarter fiscal snapshot report over the weekend where they said that the fiscal deficit rose by 259 percent to $788.1m from $219.3m in fiscal year 2018/2019. The government attributed this stark rise in the deficit to Hurricane Dorian spending and continuing fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr Cooper further states, “We remain concerned that the government continues to account for the full spending on the Grand Lucayan Resort as an investment notwithstanding that it paid much more than the appraised value and spending continues pending a sale.
“The government needs to advise the public as to our specific financial exposure on this so-called investment.
“While Dorian is casually used as the substantial reason for missed targets, the people of Abaco and Grand Bahama still suffer from lack of restoration and not being able to touch, see or feel the impact of the spending. We decry the lack of restoration in light of the newly projected deficit.
“With the one-year anniversary of Dorian today, there is still salt water coming out of taps in Freeport and no electricity in East Grand Bahama. Abaco is still in a frightening state and still not fully re-energised.
“More must be done for those who have directly suffered through both crises,” said Mr Cooper. “Finally, we would point out that on April 10, 2020, we issued a plan to mitigate the economic fallout of COVID-19. The plan included advice to go to the market early and proactively when the cost of money was low.”