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“Budget for the Rich, Not the Poor,” Says Mortimer

“The Rich People’s Budget,” is what Deputy Leader of the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) Chris Mortimer is calling the 2017/2018 Fiscal Budget revealed by Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest last Wednesday in the House of Assembly.

In a press release yesterday, Mr. Mortimer said the Free National Movement (FNM) backed away from its pledge to reduce value-added tax (VAT) on core items and services and that the new budget does little for the small man.

“After examination of the budget communication by the new Minister for Finance Peter Turnquest on behalf of the new FNM administration it is clearly a budget which favors the rich, but does very little for the small man,” Mr. Mortimer said.

“In their latest campaign promise bait and switch, the FNM has moved away from reducing duties on bread basket items, and instead decided to reduce duties on ‘much needed’ goods and foods like salmon, cakes, x-ray machines and gym equipment.

“The FNM has backed away from its pledge to reduce value-added tax on core items and services.”

In his statement, Mr. Mortimer also said the FNM backed away from many of their promises, suggesting that they were only made to secure a win, as many of the promises were unsustainable.

“Similarly, they have also backed away from their inner-city tax initiative which was supposed to be a Hallmark of their government. That promise, however, was unsustainable as suggested by the IMF and other analysts prior to the election.

“That did not stop the FNM from saying it because they felt they could win by telling Bahamians anything!” Mr. Mortimer said.

“We are left to wonder if Minister Turnquest’s declaration of ‘no new taxes’ was true and sincere. At the rate at which the FNM has backed away from central themes of their 2017 campaign. We are not prepared to believe that the FNM administration will not back away from their promise of ‘no new taxes’ or little else it has proposed to do!”

In noting the new government’s bid to borrow in excess of $700 million for the current fiscal cycle, in his statement the deputy leader of the DNA said their party felt it was premature to state the amount to borrow.

“The DNA believes this is too much, too soon for the forecasted borrowing estimates for the 2017/2018 fiscal year.

“The conventional wisdom is that if you borrow that much in advance on the expectation of expenditure, without even presenting a budget slimming programme to go along with it, you will run the risk of spending that which you forecasted to borrow and we will be back to higher debt for the foreseeable future,” Mr. Mortimer said.

In that, he further noted that the FNM’s pledge to borrow millions of dollars “begs obvious questions which the minister has yet to answer.”

“Where will the money come from to finance this debt?  Will new forms of taxation be introduced?  Will the VAT rate be increased?  Who is waiting to finance this debt?  What are the proposed terms upon which this debt will be borrowed?” Mr. Mortimer said.

“These must be answered, brought to parliament and debated. The Bahamian people deserve to know.”

Notwithstanding, Mr. Mortimer stated that although the former administration left the country in a critical financial state, the FNM government did the same when they were in office before their defeat in 2012, adding that both governments’ storylines are similar in the way they have left the finances after their respective terms in office.

“The former administration has left the country’s finances in a deep financial hole that we will not be able dig ourselves out of any time soon, however it must never be forgotten that it was the FNM that added to the same financial mess when they were last in office.

“In fact, in June 2013, the current prime minister, who at that time was leader of the Opposition, conceded that it was the FNM that left economy and its finances in a wheelchair. Now, the current deputy prime minister and minister of finance has likened the state of the country’s finances, after five years of PLP (Progressive Liberal Party) governance, to a house with bare cupboards.

“The narrative between the FNM and PLP is ominously similar. Both of them have exploded the country’s debt. The clear take away from this budget is that the FNM has turned ‘The People’s Time’ into ‘Their People’s Time.’

“This is a budget for the rich and not the small man, or the inner city.

“The DNA still stands ready to hold this government’s feet to the fire and to the promises which they made to the Bahamian people!” Mr. Mortimer said.


Written by Jones Bahamas

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