Categorized | National News

No ‘New’ Budget, Says Smith

There will be no ‘new’ budget – in the literal sense – for the new fiscal year, according to one of the government’s consultants in the Ministry of Finance.

A new budget must be brought to Parliament by the end of May and passed before the end of the fiscal year on June 30.

James Smith told the Bahama Journal yesterday that an interim budget will probably be implemented in the latter part of the year because the government has no time to do implement its own budget by July 1.

“The budget process is technically done by all the ministries so they would have been doing the necessary work in advance,” he said.

“The political wing comes into effect in the later stages in terms of what they want to emphasise so what’s going to happen is that the new government will essentially have to carry the old government’s budget. There may be a few tweaks here and there in terms of changing a tax or two but I think you will see essentially the same budget the former government would have been working on.”

Mr. Smith said another thing to consider is that there is already a $1.5 billion bill.

“Seventy-five to 80 per cent of that is already committed – 55 per cent for salaries and another 25 for leases, rents and contracts and even the capital budget – at least half of that is committed by works in progress or by advances to corporations who would have lost money in the previous year like Bahamasair or the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC),” he said.

He added that the General Election – which was held on May 7 – gives the new Christie administration very little time to work with.

“We won’t have any real chance to make any fundamental changes in the direction we want to go in,” Mr. Smith told the Journal.

“What will probably happen is the government will probably bring an interim budget sometime between the summer and the end of the year which will reflect their policies.”

Prime Minister Perry Christie highlighted during his campaign that his administration would have to borrow $300 million in order to finance the country’s existing capital expenditure commitments.

Mr. Christie also said that his party has policies that will increase the country’s revenue and provide more jobs.

“Our policies are ready for day one and they will also diversify our economy,” Mr. Christie said at one of the final rallies his party held prior to the election.

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