|Minnis says PM inflated deficit|
Guardian Staff Reporter
Published: May 31, 2012
Opposition Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis yesterday accused Prime Minister Perry Christie of “manipulating” the country’s deficit.
Christie revealed yesterday as he presented the budget communication in the House of Assembly, that the GFS deficit is just over $500 million.
“As I mentioned at the outset, the fiscal accounts are in much worse shape than we had expected as we came into office,” Christie said.
“Indeed, this year’s projected GFS deficit outturn is significantly higher than had been forecast by the previous administration in last year’s budget communication.
“The GFS deficit in 2011/12 is now projected at $504 million, up by a full $256 million from the previous government’s estimate of $248 million.”
However, Minnis said the Christie administration is “manipulating the numbers to make the present circumstances appear worse than [they] might otherwise be by charging off certain expenditure”.
“You’d note that what the prime minister and those have done, they inflated the deficit in that money to be used for programs to be completed the following year, [has been] included [in] this budget.
“Therefore, it’s an inflation of the deficit. So, rather than the 300 odd [million], he (Christie) comes up with this $500 million.”
Former Minister of State for Finance Zhivargo Laing said the over budgeted road works factored in significantly in the deficit.
“We projected in the budget this year a $314 million deficit,” he said at a press conference in the Minority Committee Room of the House of Assembly. “We also were the ones who said that the road project is over budgeted by some $93 million. That number just didn’t happen to fly somewhere. We indicated that.”
He said the Ingraham administration was forthcoming throughout the project.
“So there was never any attempt to be anything but transparent in the conduct of this business,” Laing said.
“What is true though is that the funding for contracts don’t all flow in one year. They flow over budget cycles. But if you want to manipulate the numbers you can charge off cost in a budget and then close your book after that so that you don’t carry that expenditure over.”
Minnis said the government in the new budget has not demonstrated any attempts to improve the deficit position.
“Showing no courage in reducing the large deficit it claims exists, either by taking appropriate revenue measures or expenditure adjustments, it relies now on a number of programs left in place by us to move it ahead,” he said.