Founding member of the Free National Movement (FNM), Maurice Moore, stands behind the government’s 2018/2019 Budget and its decision to increase value added tax (VAT).
Moore described the (Dr. Hubert) Minnis Administration’s stance on the nation’s finances as “sensible thing to do.”
In an interview with this daily at the recent Town Hall Meeting at Calvary Temple Assemblies of God on the Budget, Moore stated his “full support” of the current Budget, and what it entails, inclusive of the 4.5 percent VAT increase.
Speaking specifically to Deputy Prime Minister K. Peter Turnquest, Minister of Finance, Moore said, “Minister, I want to thank you and the Financial Secretary (Marlon Johnson), for coming out. What it does is, it sets a new format for dealing with the national business of the country, particularly something like the Budget.
“I would like to say to all of you that for the past 25 years, this is the first Budget that is laid in a proper foundation on which The Bahamas can now move on, in a secure financial basis and to secure the economy.
“I am very pleased minister, for what you have done, and I hope that a lot of people will appreciate the bold step that you take. I have watched The Bahamas drift down a path of uncertainty in its budgeting, in its expenditure for the last five years.
“We need not talk about what is happening in other countries, because we see it. We see it in countries such as Barbados. We took Barbados as one of the soundest country’s in the region, but it is because they allowed their borrowing and they allowed their interest to build up annually. They compounded by borrowing this year to pay last year’s expenses and they never paid it off, so you had interest mounting for many, many years,” said Moore.
“I have heard what all you have talked about, but the most important thing tonight is to acknowledge that this Budget is the first that lays a sound foundation for the way ahead, with our finances and with our economy.
“Here we are in 2018 with an interest rate on our borrowing in excess of $300 million, close to $400 million. Half of what our payment and all of our expenses or our loans to borrowing coming in. We spend approximately $700 million or there abouts, paying our principal. Do you know what it is when you have to pay $400 million on your interest?” Moore questioned.
“Ladies and gentleman, I call him (Turnquest) often because I know what he was faced with and we are thankful that he had the courage to do it. He has a Cabinet and a government whose platform speaks to it and that is why I support it. This is what The Bahamas needs so that 10 years from today, our children and grandchildren will not have to do what is being done in Jamaica or Barbados; where the value is gone, where very few international companies will invest in them.
“It creates a serious problem when there is a devaluation and when the international monetary authority takes over the administration of the finances and expenditures of a country; then you are in real trouble,” said Moore.
He reiterated his full support of the Budget and the present Ministry of Finance’s stance on the nation’s economy.
“I say, as loud as I can, we have to support. In fact, this is the sensible thing to do, because if you had decided to raise it (VAT) by two percent or three percent it would not make economic sense because you do not pay in past tense and when you borrow in the current year, it adds to it.
“The minister has done an excellent job. He has my full support. I have great respect for him; he has done an excellent job for the Bahamian economy,” concluded Moore.