The blame game adopted by the FNM in the face of latest downgrade by Standard and Poor’s is absolute lunacy because the failed fiscal and economic policies of the FNM government over the last five years are largely responsible for this downgrade. The policies of the FNM government and their general handling of the economy made the recession worse for The Bahamas.
The state Minister for Finance shamelessly maintained right up to the time of the general election that the fiscal deficit was just $316 million when in fact the deficit was in excess of $500 million. The incoming PLP government was forced to borrow $511 million to pay off the bills left behind by the outgoing FNM government.
Further, many of the big-ticket items in the form of infrastructure projects in various stages of progress must be paid for as the PLP government is honouring many of the financial commitments made by the former administration. This is what reasonable governments do.
The FNM must engage in a more rational and constructive national discourse if it is to be taken seriously a viable alternative to the government.
Bahamians are well aware that the FNM government mismanaged the New Providence Road Improvement Project (NPRIP) that ran over budget by almost $100 million and caused scores of businesses to shut down. The public knows full well that the fifty-two weeks jobs program was budgeted for $24 million and the FNM ran up the bill to almost $50 million because of politics and without Parliamentary approval. The BEC project in Abaco was a colossal debacle as over $150 million was spent on this $105 million project and the blackouts continue unabated. More monies will have to be expended to correct this problem.
To date the FNM has failed to own up to its failures in governance in these critical areas.
The leadership of the FNM is in total denial and lacks a modicum of credibility if they believe they can wash their hands of these national challenges they helped to create, stand on the sidelines and point fingers.
Having inherited an ailing economy with weak government revenue performance, the government has laid out a sensible and prudent economic rescue plan and the PLP throws its full support behind the government’s initiatives.
We support the government’s slew of tax incentives and a fiscally responsible mortgage relief program to encourage investment in the tourism, real estate, and the construction industries.
The Prime Minister remains aggressive in dusting off and reviving projects that were shelved and were dormant for years. This will no doubt stimulate greater foreign direct investment and attack the vexing problem of unemployment.
The government’s comprehensive and inclusive approach to the fight against crime is laudable because crime serves as a tax on businesses and is a proven economy killer.
The circulation of a White Paper on tax reform will broaden our tax base and bring about the structural and functional changes to our current tax regime necessary to support the growth and development of our country while arresting this deficit free fall.
We accept that Rome was not built in a day, but we are confident that the PLP government is on the correct strategic path to turn this economy around, put The Bahamas back to work and tackle the root causes of crime, poverty and social decay.