Accountability Moving Forward – Budget 2017

Deficit Spending – For too long now, Bahamians have had to rely on the mere word of a government Minister regarding key aspects of how our money is being spent, because such information is not available in print for us or even the Parliament to see, analyze and hold officials to account. It does not matter whether or not you trust a Minister or think he or she is honest. A functioning system has to be built on laws, procedures and standards that everyone must follow no matter who you are or how the public may feel about you at any given time. We cannot hold a government accountable if we have nothing to hold them accountable with. In 2012, the former administration came in saying it met a recurrent deficit of over $500 million, claiming that figure as its reason for the high level of borrowing in its 2012/2013 Budget. Former FNM Ministers challenged that figure, claiming it was not true – but all we had was one side’s word vs the other because that information is not posted in the Budget. Fast forward five years later, the present administration is posting a projected deficit coming into office of $500 million, which it says might grow. This figure, once again, is being cited for heavy borrowing. Former PLP Ministers are making their arguments – but again – the public only has one side’s word vs the other, because this information is not presented in our Budgets as they are compiled today. We need to rise above simply being forced to decide which side we believe.

Accountability Moving Forward – The government should cause to be brought to Parliament the full details of expenditure that accounts for its deficit projections for the 2016/2017 Budget year, so we can see for ourselves what is behind those numbers. And the government should also tell us what steps are being taken to investigate the legitimacy and/or legality of any contracts, deals or agreements that may have been entered into in those hundreds of millions in payments owed, to determine whether the government ought to be making all of such payments.