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Pinder weighs in on mid-year budget debate

Minister of Financial Services Ryan Pinder said during his contribution to the debate on the 2012/2013 Mid-year Budget in the House of Assembly March 4 that the government is taking a “balanced approach” to ensuring the continued diversification of the economy. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Minister of Financial Services Ryan Pinder has said that the government is taking a “balanced approach” to ensuring the continued diversification of the economy.

Making his contribution to the debate on the 2012/2013 Mid-year Budget in the House of Assembly March 4, 2013, he said that this approach would demonstrate fiscal responsibility, yet strives for opportunities and advancements for Bahamians.

Pinder outlined three primary elements of this approach: responsible and efficient expenditures causing savings where they can be achieved; ensuring revenues owed to the government are efficiently and effectively collected without raising taxes to Bahamians; and ensuring policies for economic growth and advancement for Bahamians and companies not only exist, but also are continually and aggressively advanced.

“Monitoring of expenditures, and efficient savings where possible without reducing services to the public has been put in place as an expenditure monitoring measure,” Pinder said.

“Medium-term government administrative reforms will likewise call for responsible expenditure control, including a modernized customs operation and infrastructure, real property tax administration, general tax collection will be more efficient under a Central Revenue Agency, which should result in medium-term administrative savings to the government,” he said.

“A policy to expenditure discipline in public corporations, and encouraging efficiencies without sacrificing service to the public are bold policy pronouncements that demonstrate good governance.”

In the area of collection of revenue, Pinder stressed that Prime Minister Perry Christie has set out a series of short and medium-term efforts to cause for the more efficient and proper collection of revenues which are “properly” due the government.

“The proposed modernization of customs is not only intended to ensure that modes of collection are efficient, but to ensure that in all instances of customs revenue collection, the amount ultimately due the government is collected,” he said.

Pinder noted that the excise tax on tobacco is another short-term initiative to ensure proper revenues due the government are collected.

As the government prepares for the 2012/2014 Budget, the Prime Minister foreshadowed a comprehensive review of policies to enhance revenue collection and government fees that would be due.

“This should be done throughout all Ministry portfolios where revenue to the government can be more efficiently collected and otherwise adjusted to be more in line with either international or industry norms.
It is important that our fee structure and revenue collection keep pace with industry and international norms, in doing so also ensuring to the greatest extent possible that taxes to Bahamians are not increased,” the Financial Services Minister said.

Turing to economic growth, he said that “good governance and responsible fiscal administration is prudent stewardship, however it does not mean that policies to advance economic growth should be ignored.”

In all policy initiatives there is always a policy of economic growth and creation of opportunities for Bahamians, he added.

“The Prime Minister is very clear in this regard, and in fact, in this mid-year exercise, has put in place economic growth initiatives,” Pinder said.

As the mid-year budget debate gets underway in the House of Assembly, the government has reiterated its commitment to growing the economy, tackling public debt and introducing value added tax (VAT). Watch a ZNS news report here.

Governor-General Sir Arthur Foulkes (right) swears-in Justice Christopher Blackman as Acting President of the Court of Appeal March 1, at Government House. (BIS Photo/Letisha Henderson)

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