Supplemental Budget Focuses on Economic Relief

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(BIS Photo/Patrick Hanna)

From: Bahamas Information Services

The government’s supplemental budget is focused on bringing relief to those who need it, addressing the country’s fiscal situation and stimulating economic growth. Across-the-board tax reduction is also one of the measures that will be implemented. This was the message conveyed by Minister of Economic Affairs and Leader of Government Business in the Senate, the Hon. Michael Halkitis during his contribution in the Senate on Monday, 8th November.

“A reduction that our research has shown will yield savings for everyday Bahamians while stimulating consumption at a critical moment in our economic recovery, “ said Mr. Halkitis. “Existing models indicate that this change will produce a positive impact across all major sectors in our economy, as well as on national employment and income levels. But even beyond the tax reduction, this is very much a relief budget.”

He explained that along with tax decrease, the return of the RISE program would provide Bahamians with debit cards for direct cash transfers. An increase in pensions is also a part of the plan – with those typically making the least amount per month in pension payments on the agenda to receive the largest increases.

He said that the government has also decided to resume annual increments for civil servants in order for their salaries to keep pace with the cost of living. The National Insurance Board’s unemployment benefit program has also been extended to December. Those who have been receiving $100 per week through the programme will receive a lump sum payment of $500. Mr. Halkitis said that in response to the needs of Bahamians, the government has taken these measures. A review of the new initiatives:

  • Implementing an across the board cut in VAT, lowering the overall cost of living.
  • Increasing social assistance to our vulnerable population through the targeted intervention of the RISE programme.
  • Increasing pensions that will benefit retired civil servants.
  • Returning to incremental pay increases for civil servants.
  • And extending the unemployment benefit programme with an additional $500 lump sum payment just in time for Christmas.

“We are here to lighten up the load of the people who need it the most: our elderly, lower income earners and the unemployed,” he said.