PM Davis touts his Government’s work in putting The Bahamas’ ‘fiscal house’ in order

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Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis leads the Cabinet team from the Cabinet Office to the House of Assembly, where he delivered his 2024/2025 Budget Contribution on May 29, 2024.      (BIS Photos/ Ulric Woodside)

NASSAU, The Bahamas – During the introduction of his 2024/2025 Budget Communication in the House of Assembly, on May 29, 2024, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis said that the budget reflected just how far his Government had come, in under three years, in putting The Bahamas’ “fiscal house” in order, and significantly surpassing international projections.

“I very much understand why the international projections were cautious – we faced, and in many ways, continue to face, very serious challenges,” Prime Minister Davis said.  “But let me tell you something: It’s never a good idea to underestimate Bahamians.”

He added: “When we came into office, the fiscal situation was bleak, with a deficit that was 13.1 percent of GDP.   By the end of the last fiscal year, the deficit had been significantly reduced – to 3.8 percent of GDP – and, during this budget communication, I will announce a further reduction.  But I don’t want to wait to share the bottom line: in under three years, we have knocked a billion dollars off our deficit.”

Prime Minister Davis noted that his Government “pulled the country back from the brink by exercising fiscal discipline – while still putting our compassion for the Bahamian people at the heart of our policies.”

“We could not do otherwise: when we came into office, Bahamians were suffering terribly – far too many were out of work and in despair,” he stated.  “The unemployment rate at that time was 17.6%.”

“We moved fast – we opened up the economy, we partnered with the private sector, we encouraged innovation and new investment in tourism and other sectors, and we worked hard to promote our special little country,” Prime Minister Davis added.

“The unemployment rate is now the lowest it’s been since 2008, at 8.8%.”

Prime Minister pointed out that another key fiscal measure, the debt-to-GDP ratio, showed “how dire the situation was in 2021”, adding that in June of that year, the debt-to-GDP was 100.4%.

“That means that the size of our debt was the same size – even a little bigger – than the size of our economy,” he said.  “Once this happens to a country, a cascade of negative consequences can gain momentum, leading to a very grim outcome.”

“We took action to prevent those worst-case scenarios, and the latest debt statistics reflect a debt-to-GDP ratio of 79.9 percent, a significant achievement,” Prime Minister Davis added.  “We know we still have a lot of work ahead of us; but we’ve come a long way, and our country is finally headed in the right direction.

Prime Minister Davis also reiterated the values and the vision behind the policy decisions his Government made in the 2024/2025 Budget.

“We have big ambitions for our country and for the Bahamian people,” he stated.  “We are working hard to bring down the cost of living for Bahamians, to create safer communities, to support our entrepreneurs, to strengthen our borders, and to build a more inclusive economy.”

He added:  “We are also determined to expand opportunities across our beautiful islands, throughout our archipelago. It’s the first time The Bahamas has a Prime Minister and a Deputy Prime Minister representing Family Islands. We’re making the most of it, aren’t we, Exuma?  Our core policies, including our initiatives promoting progress for our Family Islands, were articulated in our Blueprint for Change, and were reflected in previous budgets, which have focused on national, economic, and personal security. These goals and policies will be further developed and expanded in the new fiscal year.”