ORG in The News

Bahamas Urged: ‘Heed’ Fiscal Council Warning

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

Photo detailThe Bahamas would be “very wise to heed” findings that a new fiscal watchdog’s credibility will be enhanced the more independent it is from the Government.

Matt Aubry, the Organisation for Responsible Governance’s (ORG) executive director, told Tribune Business that this nation does not yet match up to the criteria set out for best-performing Fiscal Responsibility Councils in a recent Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) report.

The report, entitled Fiscal Councils: Evidence, common features and lessons for the Caribbean, zeroes in on The Bahamas and Grenada as the two smallest countries to establish such bodies.

It says the most effective Fiscal Councils are those with the greatest operational and financial independence from their governments, and that it is “preferable” that their scrutiny go beyond just the central government to include state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and local government authorities.

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Bloated Public Sector Like ‘50k Pound Canoe Anchor’

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

The Government was yesterday urged to eliminate “excess weight” in the public sector that is dragging The Bahamas down “like a 50,000 pound anchor for a canoe”.

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Robert Myers, pictured, the Organisation for Responsible Governance’s (ORG) principal, said revelations that the Bahamian civil service scored just 19 out of 100 on an Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) assessment of its performance exposed the need for the Government to “turn its reform microscope inward”.

Emphasising that civil service inefficiency directly translated into higher private sector costs and a worsening “ease of doing business”, Mr Myers told Tribune Business that the IDB findings should force the Minnis administration away from further tax and fee increases to solve its fiscal woes.

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Where’S The ‘Modern Governance’ Pledged In Return For Vat Hike?

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

The Bahamas is not getting the “modern governance” promised in return for the VAT hike, a leading reformer blasted yesterday, with people “sick and tired” of financing a bloated public sector.

Robert Myers, the Organisation for Responsible Governance’s (ORG) principal, told Tribune Business that not only had the promised governance improvements failed to materialise but the Government was also missing its fiscal deficit and debt targets.

He described the 2017-2018 deficit’s $105m overshoot, compared to year-end projections by the deputy prime minister, as “too big a swing” for comfort, arguing that the Government will be “perpetually struggling” with a problem “dangerous for running a country” unless it implements proper public sector controls and accounting standards.

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'It's Time To Call For Anti-Corruption Laws'

By RICARDO WELLS

Tribune Staff Reporter

rwells@tribunemedia.net

THE Organisation for Responsible Governance has urged Bahamians to agitate for planned anti-corruption laws, reiterating concerns over the government’s handling of the relocation of the General Post Office to the Town Centre Mall.

The group said while the Minnis administration may be satisfied that it met all mandated protocols for a contract to be awarded to a sitting member of parliament, the Bahamian electorate feel the situation was handled poorly.

The organisation insisted the Minnis administration ironically failed to show the standards of integrity and transparency it promised on the campaign trail, in a letter submitted to The Tribune.

“In the party manifesto, published ahead of elections,” the letter read, “they emphasized prevention in the handling of conflict of interest stating that ministers must ensure that no conflict of interest ‘arises’ or even ‘appears to arise.’”

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Govt Admits To 50% Customs Leakages

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

(July 18, 2018) NASSAU, Bahamas - The government has admitted to losing around 50 percent of due Customs revenues from inefficiencies in a system it is working feverishly to reform by eliminating manual processes.

The confession is contained in the government's own just-published review of The Bahamas' progress in meeting the United Nations' (UN) Sustainable Development Goals, with the report's release timed to coincide with Dr Hubert Minnis's visit to the New York-based body today.

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Fiscal Responsibility Bill to go before Cabinet tomorrow

Eyewitness News

The government hopes to pass the Fiscal Responsibility Bill soon, according to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest.

The piece of legislation was announced in the 2018/2019 Budget Communication and was engineered to keep the government accountable with public finances.

Turnquest’s announcement was in response to the recent call by Organization for Responsible Governance (ORG) for the bill to be passed before Parliament’s summer recesses

 

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ORG lobbying govt. to expand think tank on economic diversification

By Theo Sealy

Eyewitness News

(July 16,2018) NASSAU,BAHAMAS- A local civic organization is agitating for the government to seriously expand its think-tank to generate new ideas on how to expand the country’s economy.

Matthew Aubry, executive director of the Organization for Responsible Governance (ORG) pointed to a number of sectors that government can seek to bolster economic bounty.

“Whether we look at tech, or agriculture or boutique tourism I think its something we need to consider because at this stage we are running out of time to make that move to ensure that our economy continues to grow,” Aubry golf Eyewitness News.

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ORG wants swift action on FRB

Chester Robart

(July 12,2018) NASSAU,BAHAMAS -The Organization for Responsible Governance (ORG) wants to see the Fiscal Responsibility Bill tabled and debated before government goes on its usual summer hiatus.

ORG said in a press release issued yesterday that government must treat the bill the same way it treated the implementation of the 4.5 percent increase in value-added tax and move the highly touted bill through Parliament as quickly as possible.

“The implementation of the Fiscal Responsibility Bill should be treated with at least the same level of urgency as the short-notice imposition of the VAT increase,” said ORG.

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DPM targets 'next week' on fiscal bill

By NEIL HARTNELL

and NATARIO McKENZIE

Tribune Business Reporters

(July 12,2018) NASSAU,BAHAMAS- The deputy prime minister yesterday said he aims to "lay and debate" the Fiscal Responsibility Bill in Parliament next week, conceding that it is critical to the government's "credibility".

KP Turnquest told Tribune Business: "I am hoping to have it approved, the revised version, by Cabinet next week, and I'm hoping we can have it laid and debated next week. If not, then it will certainly be done before or immediately after the break for summer. I'm hoping to get it done by next week."

He was responding to calls by the Organisation for Responsible Governance (ORG), the civil society group, for the government to pass the Fiscal Responsibility Bill before Parliament takes its summer break.

 

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ORG: Table revised Fiscal Responsibility Bill before Summer Recess

By Organization for Responsible Governance


(Jul 10, 2018)
NASSAU, New Providence – “The implementation of the Fiscal Responsibility Bill should be treated with at least the same level of urgency as the short-notice imposition of the VAT increase.” These are the sentiments of The Organization for Responsible Governance, which is pushing for the drafted Fiscal Responsibility Bill (FRB) to be tabled and debated ahead of the customary parliamentary summer recess. 

Citing the Minister of Finance’s original target of having the legislation in place ahead of this budget cycle the Organization urged the Government to move swiftly in having the legislation passed. 

“Last year, Minister Turnquest committed to implementing ‘fiscal rules’ ahead of the 2018-2019 Budget Cycle to address issues of expenditure and financial management, and to bridge the trust-gap between the people and their government,” said Matt Aubry, ORG’s Executive Director.  “We applaud that a Fiscal Responsibility Bill was introduced in March of this year and that time was allotted for review and feedback from the private sector, civil society, and the people. However, in keeping with the spirit of the Minister’s intentions to usher in a new era of fiscal discipline and accountability with the new budget, we hope to see the revised legislation tabled and debated in The House of Assembly in the coming weeks.”

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