In the face of successive downgrades of The Bahamas’ international credit ratings and the overall increase in the national debt, Civil society and The Private Sector are calling for greater transparency in government expenditures and reporting. There is a need for a demonstration of expenditure control, tax compliance and accountability from the Government. Accordingly, the following commitments are necessary to stem the continued decline in economic development:
- The implementation of a Fiscal Responsibility Act that among other things provides limits to capital and recurrent expenditure relative to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), requires comprehensive reporting of projected costs and benefits of planned programs as a condition precedent, requires a balanced budget and mandates reductions in the national debt and the building of national reserves.
- The implementation of the Freedom of Information Act, with accompanying legislation to protect whistle blowers.
- Improved compliance rates regarding existing taxes; while this is a longer term initiative, there must be demonstrable efforts to modernise the processes and imbed greater accountability for a failure to achieve increased compliance and greater penalties imposed on those businesses and individuals found to be evading taxes.
- Energy reform must be prioritised, with the appointment of a representative from the Private Sector to the committee charged with selecting an appropriate entity with which to enter into a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) and devising the structure of the PPA.