The Christie administration will bring a resolution forward in the House of Assembly today to borrow more than $500 million to cover the government’s current fiscal deficit, Prime Minister Perry Christie revealed yesterday.
Mr. Christie said that the government is seeking to borrow $504 million, though he did not disclose where the government will seek to borrow the money from.
“I’m going to give notice at the end of the debate on the Speech from the Throne which will take place [today],” Mr. Christie said. “I am going to give notice of a resolution to borrow $504 million to cover the deficit that I announced.”
“I’m going to rely on the Minister of State for Finance to lead that,” the prime minister added as he bypassed the question of whether the money would be borrowed from Chinese lenders.
At yesterday’s press conference the prime minister also seemed to pull back on two issues the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) made big campaign issues during the recent election cycle.
In the party’s Charter for Governance, the PLP promised it would bring a referendum forward to address the issue of the legalisation of gambling within its first 100 days in office; however, Mr. Christie hinted that the government may need more time to determine how best to proceed.
“We are in government now and I am reviewing what the former government did,” the prime minister said. “Legislation by the former government was even drafted in terms of computer wagering – so we’re going to look at it now and we’re going to move as quickly as I think circumstances require us to.”
“But this is a matter not for the PLP – it’s a matter for the people of the country. We are only going to facilitate a process and then leave it to the people of the country to determine if this is what they want us to do.”
The second issue that the Christie administration seems to be relenting on is a repeated campaign promise to convene a commission of inquiry within its first 100 days to look into a number of the previous government’s projects.
“With respect to a commission of inquiry, the government has to determine whether that goes forward – the full government,” he said. “We have to determine whether it is in the best interest of the country to hold a judicially-driven inquiry into any matter that we might consider necessary,” Mr. Christie said.
“What we have focused on is the Speech from the Throne and the Opening of Parliament. We are focused on trying to understand the budget, trying to finesse the budget in such a way that we can actually have parallel with what the budget was providing for ministries the implementation of our 100-day programme.”
He continued, “We are looking at contracts and all the things that took place and then we have to decide as a government what steps we will take in furtherance in giving the Bahamian people a full explanation as to what take place.”