Prime Minister Perry Gladstone Christie Responds To United States State Department…
Entire Country including Bahamas Press rallies behind Prime Minister’s response to State Department
RT. HON. PERRY G. CHRISTIE
COMMONWEALTH OF THE BAHAMAS
Response to U.S. Department of State
2014 Investment Climate Statement
1st July 2014
· This annual statement by the State Department is meant to present a factual, objective assessment of the economic and fiscal situation in our country.
· Unfortunately some have been led to draw on specific points in the statement to present a negative tone in respect of the plan of action that my Government laid out in our Charter for Governance prior to the election and which we are aggressively pursuing during the course of our present mandate.
· It is simply inappropriate to look at a snapshot of the current situation and draw negative conclusions on the success of our plan.
· We were abundantly clear in the Charter that, while our plan does offer numerous measures for short and medium-term relief, a responsible Government cannot think only five years at a time. As such, we committed ourselves to a “true national development plan (that) reflects a vision for The Bahamas of the future”.
· We have been true to our word and we are pursuing just such a plan for the future.
· In the recent Budget Communication, I outlined in detail our efforts to bolster the growth of our economy and the creation of jobs. Indeed, I laid out the many new and expanding investment projects in both New Providence and across the Family Islands that offer real hope for better days ahead.
· My optimism for our economic prospects has been justifiably buttressed by the most recent forecast by the IMF which sees real growth of 2.3 per cent this year, followed by yet stronger growth of 2.8 per cent in 2015 and 2016.
· Already, we are seeing progress on the unemployment front, with the national rate of unemployment down to 15.4 per cent from its peak of 16.2 per cent.
· We are also decidedly and firmly addressing the critical fiscal challenge that we inherited as we came to office. We are embarked on an ambitious and necessary medium-term plan to eliminate the Government Deficit and reverse the growth of the Debt burden.
· The international credit rating agencies have supported us as we move ahead with this plan.
· On this score, I would wish to correct one statement in the State Department’s assessment to the effect that that both Moody’s and S&P downgraded our credit rating in 2013. In actual fact, Moody’s announced a downgrade in December 2012 but clearly stated that this reflected the worsening in the Government’s balance sheet since 2007, largely on the basis of a low and inadequate revenue base.
· S&P did not downgrade our rating; rather they revised their outlook to negative in September 2012.
· Importantly, both agencies announced that our efforts at fiscal and tax reform, to restrain spending and broaden the tax base through the medium term, would be critical to underpinning and potentially improving the credit rating of our country.
· Moody’s, for example, proclaimed after this year’s Budget that our fiscal reforms are credit positive and that they should ensure debt sustainability.
· We thus have a logical and fully-articulated economic and fiscal plan for the full duration of our current mandate. Through our perseverance in the pursuit of this plan, I firmly believe that we are on the right track to much better days ahead.
· That will be the true measure of the success of our agenda for change.