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Breaking News:

Turnquest hits back at opposition on Moody’s

• Responds to view govt’s public utterances on dismal state of economy led to downgrade being considered • DPM: Govt cannot risk ‘low credibility’ by not being ‘transparent and factual’ about the fisc
  • Peter Turnquest.

Senior Business Reporter

Published: Jul 14, 2017

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Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest expressed disappointment with the official opposition’s responses to the possible downgrade by international credit rating agency Moody’s, saying his government cannot risk “low credibility” by not being “transparent and factual about the fiscal situation of the country”.

Turnquest’s jab was prompted by statements from Chester Cooper, the official opposition spokesman on finance; Philip Brave Davis, leader of the opposition, Senator Fred Mitchell and former Attorney General Alfred Sears.

The opposition members blame the government and its public utterances on the dismal state of the economy for the decision by Moody’s to consider a downgrade of this country’s sovereign credit rating. They also chided the government for not developing a plan to rightsize the economy.

However, Turnquest, in a statement published yesterday, hit back, saying he read the opposition’s statements “with disappointment and sheer amazement” .

“This administration has made a conscious decision to be transparent and factual about the fiscal situation of the country,” he said.

“This is necessary if we are going to undertake reforms to secure the future of this country for future generations. For this reason, we have chosen not to mislead the Bahamian public with respect to the extent of the fiscal mismanagement we faced on coming into office.

“We would risk having the same low credibility of the previous administration that Messrs. Davis and Mitchell were an integral part of, if we attempted to undertake the necessary reforms to stabilize the public finances without explaining the facts to the public.

“The evidence of fiscal mismanagement is clear to everybody, including the rating agencies. The previous administration had five consecutive years of missed fiscal targets.”

Turnquest explained that the opinion of Moody’s on the country’s sovereign credit rating could not be avoided or delayed, and said the country would not have been facing the prospect of another downgrade by another credit rating agency had the previous administration “been more transparent, more honest and more responsible”.

Late last year international credit rating agency Standard and Poor’s dropped The Bahamas’ sovereign credit rating to “junk status”.

Turnquest said his government has laid out a plan to revitalize the country’s economy. However, he added his government will remain transparent throughout the entire process.

“This action by Moody’s only reinforces our belief that we are correct in our conclusion that meaningful reform is needed now, not next year or some other future date,” said Turnquest.

“In this respect, I can assure the Bahamian people and the international community that appropriate action to restore the country to fiscal health is now being taken.”



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