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Shadow Minister of Finance, Chester Cooper yesterday  described the spin by the Minister of Finance on the growth of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP)   as “dizzying”. He  referred to what he called   the Government’s softer than expected GDP growth. 

The Deputy Leader of the Opposition said, “It is interesting that this Administration repeatedly touted it projection of over 2 percent GDP for 2018 as a sign of its supposed economic stewardship, only to have been brought back down to earth by the facts.

“That the Minister of Finance reacts with glee after a lower than expected real, is curious, yet dizzingly out of touch. The Minister’s projections are simply not being met; not even close.

“That GDP growth for 2018 was 1.6 percent, as disclosed in the report by the hardworking professionals at the Department of Statistics yesterday , should be alarming to Bahamians,” said Mr. Cooper.

He said,“with the opening of Baha Mar, record tourist arrivals the current Administration had nothing to do with, the booming US economy and no major shocks to the economy, like a hurricane, over the past year, the government must explain why the growth projection was not met.

“Could it perhaps be the arbitrary raising of Value Added Tax (VAT) and the subsequent starving of capital expenditure to meet a rigid deficit target the Government was told was ill-advised?”

“ The Government will not meet its revenue collection projection; the economy did not meet the stated growth projection.”

“Which projections uttered by this Administration should we believe?”

“Where does fantasy end and reality begin?”

“Any growth in the economy is good, but it stands so reason the Government is doing more harm to economic growth than good,” said the Exuma and Ragged Island MP.

He said, “the poorly thought-out rise in VAT has likely slowed growth in the economy, and it may have a worse effect as growth in world markets is expected to ease in the coming years.

“We note the Minister touts the increase in household consumption. This is drivel

“Yes, household consumption is up because f Baha Mar.

“However, household consumption is also up because VAT is up – people are paying more taxes.

“Household consumption is also up because electricity bills and the fuel charge are up, not necessarily because people have more money to spend.”

Mr. Cooper said ,“the Minister tries to make a subversive political point that the economy experienced a 3 percent (3%) growth in 2013, that was thanks to the FNM.

“The Minister can thank the PLP for establishing Anchor Projects that are seeing the economy grow today.

“The Minister must come back down to reality He is in the newspaper today saying Grand Bahama’s economy has turned a corner. Grand Bahama’s economy continues to be limp.

“It may be in his reality there is a Grand Bahama where people are not leaving in droves to find work, where unemployment is not near an all-time high and where people are not sleeping in their cars, on benches or in abandoned structures.  However, that is not the reality that most of us experience.

“It is also reasonable to ask how this will impact the fiscal strategy’s budget projections.

“The Minister of Finance, if he is prudent, needs to quickly identify measures which would improve investor confidence in this economy to put it on a path for sustainable long-term growth.

“The current year (2019) will not have the benefit of the large uplift of consumption caused by Baha Mar.

“Additionally, we trust that the Minister issuing a statement to accompany the Department’s National Accounts Numbers, does not dampen confidence in the Independence of the Department of Statistics. Perhaps a clear schedule for the release of such data should be implemented.

“The spin from the Minister is dizzying.

“But anyone can see that the boasts of the FNM about economic recovery are more talking points rather than a sober assessment of the reality before us,” said Mr. Cooper.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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