Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Hon. K. Peter Turnquest carefully explained and fielded questions about the budget that is being debated in the House of Assembly during a town meeting on Saturday, June 9. Held at Calvary Temple Church, a cross-section of residents in Grand Bahama turned up for the three-hour town meeting that encompassed a presentation by the Deputy Prime Minister as well as Financial Secretary, Marlon Johnson. During his presentation, the Deputy Prime Minister said the budget is one that is important to all Bahamians as it explains how the government is managing the funds collected through taxes, and how those funds are being or will be spent. While successive governments have under-budgeted resulting in an accumulation of unpaid bills, the government, he said, has taken the position of getting the country’s finances in order as it is “the responsible thing to do.”
Mr. Turnquest explained that while there have been budgetary cuts in many areas, there are also programmes being put in place to assist Bahamians to empower themselves. He mentioned free education so that residents may learn a skill and the funding for small businesses. The budget, he said, gives residents self-empowerment so that they will not have to be beholden to anyone. The government will be in a position to give reductions in customs and excise duties once the fiscal house is in order. Noting that he is aware of what the increase in VAT will do to residents, the Deputy Prime Minister added, “our Government was elected to do what is right for the welfare of the country and not to do what is politically expedient or politically popular.” Among those in attendance were: Minister of State for Grand Bahama, Senator the Hon. J. Kwasi Thompson; Parliamentary Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, Pakesia Parker-Edgecombe; former Ambassador Maurice Moore; and President of the Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce, Mick Holding. Deputy Prime Minister Turnquest is also scheduled to make a presentation on the budget at the Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce on Friday, June 15 at 12:30 p.m.