FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
13TH FEBRUARY 2014
By Bradley B. Roberts National Chairman Progressive Liberal Party
THE GOOD NEWS MID YEAR BUDGET STATEMENT
On behalf of the Progressive Liberal Party, I am pleased to join my colleagues in the government in lending my full support to this mid-year budget statement and the efforts of the Minister of Finance and his team at the Ministry to promote growth in our economy and increase employment throughout the country. It is clear that the government is on the right track. This budget statement is good news for the country and we thank the government for its discipline, leadership and resoluteness.
It is worth repeating, however, that this government inherited a fiscal crisis by any objective measure where the country’s recurrent revenue was under-performing by well over $200 million and capital expenditure exceeded the budgeted amount by more than $200 million. This sad but real fiscal state of affairs placed extraordinary pressure on public finances and the government’s ability to meet its commitments to fund its operations.
Further and through no fault of its own this government was greeted with a downgrade of the country’s sovereign credit rating due to the unsustainable levels of borrowing and spending over the previous five years by the previous administration; this quality of fiscal stewardship can only be branded as reckless and irresponsible.
The PLP government was hired by the Bahamian people on MAY 7th, 2012 to clean up this fiscal mess left behind by the former FNM administration and in the face of jeers and criticism from those most responsible for this mess; we thank the Bahamian people for their continued patience and support.
Notwithstanding a protracted and painfully slow global economic recovery, the government’s multi-faceted Fiscal Consolidation Plan is bearing positive fruit for the Bahamian people. We fully support the government’s strategy on the way forward which consists of four key parts: “growing the economy; restraining expenditure; enhancing revenue administration; and securing new sources of revenue.”
To our critics, I take grave exception to Dr. Minnis’ characterization of the Prime Minister as a vacillator because it was none other than this same Minnis who sat around a cabinet table not so long ago and agreed to VAT as a viable tax reform option only to oppose it when opposing became politically convenient to do so. He also agreed to legalize web shops and stem cell research and therapy without regulations only to back track on both when the Bahamian people fired the FNM Government. Dr. Minnis is the poster child for vacillation; he couldn’t hold a position on principle if his life depended on it. He is the quintessential opportunist and carpetbagger.
He should also be the last person to open his mouth about Bahamian ownership. Bahamians know well that Dr. Minnis aided and abetted the fire sale of the Bahamian patrimony BTC. He was also a party to the mass cancellation of many contracts to Bahamian road builders in favour of the foreign Jose Cartellone of Argentina in the New Providence Road Improvement Project debacle.
And where does Dr. Minnis get off at scoffing at the government’s jobs creation plan?! I remind him that under the FNM’s watch, unemployment doubled from just over 7% to some 14.7%. When Minnis and the FNM were fired from office, more than 30,000 Bahamians were unemployed; NOT ONE NET JOB WAS CREATED WHILE MINNIS SAT IN THE FNM CABINET FOR FIVE YEARS. Further, more than 4,000 homes were in various stages of foreclosure and the misery index was off the charts.
Thanks to Prime Minister Christie and his team, the economy has turned the corner, unemployment is trending downward, fresh money is pouring into the country, the economic momentum will intensify therefore Bahamians have good reasons to be optimistic.
I ask for the continued support and patience of the Bahamian people as this government charts the future for our beloved Bahamas. Let us collectively reject the din in the marketplace by the merchants of doom and gloom, the political opportunists who vacillate, have no policy position on nothing and oppose for the sake of opposing and the carpetbaggers. Let’s keep our eyes on moving forward and building a stronger, safer and better Bahamas for all Bahamians.