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Former Minister of State for Finance Michael Halkitis yesterday said that he thought it was ill-advised for the government to “handcuff themselves” to balancing the budget within three years. 

The Minnis-Administration has been deliberate  about curbing spending in an effort to  reduce the fiscal deficit. 

Mr. Halkitis said, “If you come in and say that you want to balance the budget in three years, then you have to make an attempt to do it.

“If  your revenue is down $185 million for the first half of the year, what that says is that either you have to have a tremendous second half to make up that deficit; or you have to cut spending.”, he added.

The former PLP MP also said that  there is not a lot of discretion in this decision. 

He said, “either you’re postponing capital works;  you’re not going to do repairs that are needed, or you’re going to tell the people at the hospital that they’re going to have to wait for the second quarter release before they can buy a ventilator. 

“You’re either going to have to make some painful cuts, or you’re going to have to come back and re-adjust your strategy.”, he said. 

The government has also come under fire in recent months for marching to the beat of international agencies like Moody’s and the International Monetary Fund. 

When asked about his opinion on this matter, he said, “ a very successful Bahamian businessman once said, ‘You don’t manage your business for your auditors.’ You listen to what they have to say, but you don’t manage your business for them.”

He added, “I always kept that in mind when I was dealing with the rating agencies.”

Mr. Halkitis said that while Tourism numbers are doing well, times are still challenging for the average Bahamian. 

“The cost of living is high, wages aren’t moving, and you have the government and  its agencies and even in the central government, particularly with people who are contracted, they’re down-sizing.”, he said. 

Mr. Halkitis was a guest on Radio  Love 97’s Jones and Company talk show.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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