Statement from the Office Of The Leader of the Opposition
On Peter Turnquest’s Attack On The Opposition Leader about the FNM’s Borrowing Habits
For Immediate Release
8 April 2018
Peter Turnquest’s ad hominem and highly emotive attacks on me and the PLP for holding the FNM government’s feet to the fire smacks of arrogance and desperation. He must account for the government’s stewardship of the people’s scarce resources in pure policy terms. To date, the FNM government has not been forthright, transparent or accountable to the Bahamian people. This is unacceptable.
The facts are that since assuming office ten months ago, the FNM has borrowed a staggering 1.7 billion dollars. I simply asked where the money went and will continue to do so on behalf of the Bahamian people. His answer was that the FNM was paying off bills from the previous administration. Well during the last fiscal year this same Peter Turnquest reported to Parliament and the media that the FNM paid $381 million of bills in June 2017 he claimed were left behind by the PLP government. We are in a new fiscal year; the borrowing continues and he is singing the same incredulous tune of deflection – it’s the PLP’s fault. I am convening a meeting of the Public Accounts Tuesday 10 April.
In real human terms, what does the FNM have to show for 1.7 billion dollars in borrowing? We in the PLP see that the human suffering index in The Bahamas has gone up exponentially. Social services payments cannot be made and civil servants cannot get paid. The poor can get no relief; the Minister of Health proposes to tax poor people’s food while he can’t get sufficient medicine and beds in the public hospitals. The FNM has intentionally added to the rate of unemployment and there is a steep deterioration in public infrastructure. Mosquitos are out of control and road traffic accidents are killing our people with no programmes in place to stop it. There are bloody murders of our young people every week without fail while promising young minds are steadily leaving The Bahamas for the US, Canada and the UK because there is no support for them here. This is what we see.
The FNM as tone deaf as they are, has therefore lost credibility as Bahamians do not listen or believe a word they say because their lives are not being touched by all of this money borrowed and there is no clear policy to inspire hope and confidence.
We go further: up in the north of the country, Grand Bahma remains mired in economic malaise. The Government is trying to force an economically questionable and environmentally unsustainable project on the people there.
There is no economic or social policy for the Family Islands. The picture by any measure is pretty grim and no amount of bombast and personal attacks of deflection can change those facts.
We also know that Mr. Turnquest has failed as Minister of Finance. He does not understand the sophisticated world of public finance administration; he is a dismal failure at cash flow management. In his short period in office, he has attempted to change the way the Central Bank reports its macro-information, the way the Department of Statistics calculates its data and the way in which the Ministry of Finance accounts for it disbursements and receipts. He did this all in the name of politics.
When these suspect policy practices are publicly questioned in the public interest, like a spoiled child Turnquest descends into vitriolic invective, inflammatory rhetoric, unsubstantiated charges and an increasingly more apparent naiveté concerning public finance in The Bahamas to support his stale and vapid, deceitful and incredulous narrative on the performance of the last PLP government.
The fact is he has maxed out the credit of the country on the unwise and fallacious assumption that all government bills can be paid at once. Further, he has fired the people in the Ministry who could have helped him with these challenges.
Mr. Turnquest is the worst Minister of Finance because of his incompetence, ineptness and actions. He has borrowed a breathtaking and unmatched sum of 1.7 billion dollars in ten months. Unfortunately for him and the country, worse days – not better are ahead.