**The Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham
Today in the House of Assembly, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham delivered the Government’s budget for the fiscal year beginning 1 July. The Government has committed to pursuing a “balanced budget” fiscal policy, and the total recurrent revenue in the 2007/08 budget is $1.490 billion against a recurrent expenditure of $1.465 billion. Budget Debate is expected to commence in the House on Tuesday, June 5.
There are no new taxes and no increases in taxes in the 2007/08 budget, and the Government indicated plans to cut some existing taxes.
Confidence in the Bahamian economy requires that Government pursues sound fiscal policies, among which the Prime Minister cited ensuring rapid yet sustainable economic expansion, exercising prudent public spending polices and trimming the present revenue structure with a view to closing loopholes. The Government expects the GFS Deficit to be eliminated over time. *”In 2007/8 we are projecting a GFS Deficit of 1.8 percent largely arising as result of a ‘catch up’ on essential expenditures, but our projections envisage a planned recurrent budget surplus as a result of which the GFS Deficit will be on a declining trend in 2008/9 and 2009/10. Indeed, by 2012/13 the GFS Deficit should be eliminated.”*
The Government’s overall economic policy, aims to:
• Create good paying jobs for unemployed Bahamians;
• Encourage income growth for those who are employed;
• Increase Bahamian entrepreneurship and ownership in the economy;
• Reduce poverty, particularly in the inner city areas and in the Family Islands;
• Create balance in economic growth by responsibly spreading prosperity to the Family Islands;
• Safeguard the environment and heritage for present and future generations; and
• Invest in the improvement of society generally: in security, in education, in health, in social welfare and in youth development.
In connection with the last objective, expenditure increases were announced for education, the College of The Bahamas, public healthcare, youth and sports programs, the Royal Bahamas Police and Defence Forces and Local Government.
Citing International Monetary Fund statistics, Prime Minister Ingraham noted that projections for economic growth in 2007 and 2008 provide confidence that the growth strategy envisaged by the Government will be successful.
Also announced during the Budget Communication were plans to introduce a mid-year budget review and report to Parliament, to demonstrate transparency, accountability and orderly budgeting of the Bahamas Government. This report is expected to set out the economic background of the fiscal year-to-date, the fiscal performance in the first six months of the current fiscal year, and any proposed additions to expenditure for approval.