Our nation's debt-to-GDP ratio and annual fiscal deficits are jeopardizing The Bahamas' economic future. ORG has advocated over the past two years for clear measures to be taken to curb debt and institute greater transparency in government expenditure and reporting. A Fiscal Responsibility Act, among other things, provides limits to capital and recurrent expenditure relative to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), requires reporting of projected costs and benefits of planned programs, requires a balanced budget and mandates reductions in the national debt.
After relentless advocacy from ORG and other like-minded organizations over two government administrations, The Ministry of Finance answered our call in May 2018 and released The Fiscal Responsibility Bill, 2018 - a bill to address government spending and debt and to improve fiscal transparency - and circulated it to ORG and other groups to review. With help from concerned volunteers and supporters like you, ORG and other groups got 13 of our suggested amendments accepted.
However, there are still key points jeopardizing the bill's strength, such as the lack of repercussions or incentives for public officials to meet mandates, the political appointment powers of the Prime Minister and the power and responsibilities of the Finance Minister which could compromise objectivity in financial reporting. Though the Bill passed the lower house in September 2018, ORG continues to seek every opportunity to press these improvements and is urging the Senate to send the bill back for amendments.
The Fiscal Responsibility Bill, 2018 has the potential to create greater accountability and responsibility in our national finances. It can be an excellent tool for us to better manage our national spending and focus on strategy for economic growth. If we want a sustainable future, a Bahamas where the next generation can live in security and prosperity, we must put strong fiscal rules in place. Join your voice to our cause, Follow ORG on Facebook and speak up about the Bill with the Hashtage #FiscalResponsibilityBahamas!
Download and view the bill and it's companion documents here:
The Fiscal Responsibility Bill 2018 will establish an independent Fiscal Council to act as a watchdog against fiscal malfeasance and will set guidelines and fiscal rules to curb spending, reduce debt, and increase fiscal transparency.
As you review, here are some helpful links to resources that might provide some background on the bill and Fiscal Responsibility Legislation in The Caribbean:
Rules Based Fiscal Responsibility Frameworks for the Caribbean Region
Inter American Development Bank Regional Policy Dialogue 2017
Fiscal Rules: Towards a New Paradigm for Fiscal Sustainability in Small States
Inter American Development Bank Working Paper Series 2017
Have other comments on Fiscal Responsibility and this bill? Please leave your feedback in the window below. For more information please email: [email protected]