Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. K. Peter Turnquest stated that unprecedented times call for an unprecedented Budget as he presented the 2020/21 Budget Communication in the House of Assembly, Wednesday, May 27, 2020.
“I will lay out the Government’s comprehensive Budget plan for the fiscal year 2020/2021, explaining how we intend to address the pressing fiscal and economic realities we face as a country, as we forge onwards to restore our people, and restore our nation.
“This Budget is unlike any The Bahamas has ever seen before. Fittingly so, because the past 12-months have been unlike anything the country has ever experienced.”
DPM Turnquest said that this budget has five critical aims: It is about protecting the health and safety of Bahamians; it is about providing adequate social support to vulnerable members of the community; it is about stabilizing the domestic economy; it is about sustaining employment, and it is about accelerating our Government reforms.
He said these are not just theoretical ideas; they are not simply aspirational. These priorities show exactly how the Government is investing public resources.
“What does this look like in practice? A feeding program that can reach more people for a longer period of time. An unemployment assistance program that puts cash in the hands of more than 20,000 people, as a form of income replacement. In practice, it means supporting and growing more small businesses with grants and expanded investments, creating more jobs and securing more livelihoods.”
He stated that what will be evident from this presentation of the 2020/2021 Annual Budget is a clear plan, grounded in the reality of the country’s circumstances, sensitive to the needs of the most vulnerable, guided by the Government’s priorities and designed to transform this crisis into an opportunity for future prosperity.
The DPM explained that for the past three years, the Government’s objective has been to achieve sustainable economic growth over the medium and long-term.
“A key component of our strategy has been fiscal consolidation, which is about taking public finances towards a balanced position overtime through revenue enhancement and expenditure containment. While the economy was in growth mode, the Government took the necessary steps to bring down the deficit and create a plan to contain our debt growth. We did this with great success, establishing a track record of deficit reductions and fiscal responsibility.”
He said, “We did this while taking unparalleled steps to invest, first and foremost, in Bahamians. Let us not forget, this Government made one of the most significant investments in education in Bahamian history through the implementation of a free education initiative from preschool to university.”
DPM Turnquest added, “In this new Budget, we are staying true to our promise to increase access to education with millions of additional resources directed towards free education for UB and BTVI students. We continue to fund the Universal Pre-Primary Education initiative to make quality preschool education more inclusive and accessible. Even with the current constraints we have, we are ensuring that Bahamians are prepared to maximize their participation in the transformed economy.”