PRIME Minister Philip “Brave” Davis. (File photo)
By LEANDRA ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
WHILE tabling the 2022 Fiscal Strategy Report (FSR) in Parliament yesterday, Prime Minister Phillip Davis said his administration’s plan to restore the country’s fiscal health is working and already “bearing fruit.”
He told parliamentarians that the report outlined the government’s plans to achieve specific key fiscal targets, among them an improved revenue performance.
“These targets include: an improvement in government revenue yield to more than 24 percent of GDP by fiscal year 2024/25, a measured reduction in government expenditure to less than 23 percent of GDP by fiscal year 2024/25, and as a result of these measures, achievement of a budget surplus by fiscal year 2024/25,” Mr Davis said.
Yesterday, he also tabled the fiscal year (FY) 2023/24 to 2025/26 medium term debt management strategy.
“Madame Speaker - the general outlook is that the fiscal plans implemented by this administration since coming to office are already bearing fruit,” Mr Davis continued.
“As a result, the public can expect the achievement of a budget surplus by FY 2024/25 and a decline in the debt to GDP ratio to 67.1 percent by FY 2026/27.
“The comments I make today about our nation’s fiscal health echo those of reputable international financial institutions and economists, who have performed advanced reviews of the draft documents.”
Mr Davis also praised the report, saying it is widely believed to be the “most comprehensive and clearly articulated” strategy the country has ever produced.
“And these are not just technical achievements – they represent real progress for The Bahamas, progress that Bahamians are going to feel.
“Progress on our fiscal goals supports our efforts to build a diversified economy, one that will generate more inclusive opportunities and prosperity.
“Progress on our fiscal goals means progress for the people,” he continued.
The prime minister said his administration has always been transparent about the challenges facing the country, but remains confident that they have what it takes to chart a new course forward.
Mr Davis’ tabling of the report follows recent criticisms from the Free National Movement concerning the government’s failure to meet the initial deadline to publish the annual report.
As mandated by the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2018, the government is required to present the report by the third Wednesday in November of each year; however, Mr Davis told parliamentarians the report was delayed for several reasons.
The date for one, he said, was simply “not feasible.”
“While in opposition, and since coming to office as the government, we have articulated on multiple occasions the fundamental flaws in the FRA – including this very same timeline,” Mr Davis said.
“During the fiscal year 2022/23, the FRA would have required government to table its fiscal strategy report in Parliament on 16 November 2022. This date, Madame Speaker, was simply not feasible, for at this time, the Bahamas was in the middle of its S&P biannual credit rating review.
“Tabling such a document would have interfered with the independent review process.”
Following Mr Davis’ speech, FNM leader Michael Pintard asked when debate will begin on the report as required by law.
However, no timeline was provided.