By Lindsay Thompson (BIS)
#TheBahamas, May 27, 2022 – Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Hon. Philip Davis presented his first national budget in which he outlined key priority areas to help Bahamians address major cost of living challenges. He presented the communication on the budget for the financial year 2022/2023 to the House of Assembly on Wednesday, May 25, 2022.
The communication is entitled “Budget 2022: the way forward”. “This budget provides a foundation to strengthen our nation, to lift us up, to face the future with strength and optimism,” the Prime Minister said.
The budget is organized around central priorities set out in the Speech from the Throne and his government’s New Day Agenda – the top priority of which is “to help Bahamians deal with a cost of living crisis”, said the Prime Minister; “Bahamians were already grappling with high energy prices, high food prices and high housing costs.”
Along these lines, his government’s strategy to mitigate the impact of this global crisis includes: a mix of broad cuts in import duties; strengthening the enforcement of price controls; an increase in the minimum wage for civil servants; increased support for social services; significant new support for catastrophic health care; the creation of the Universal Service Fund to make technology more accessible and affordable in all islands; substantial investment in promoting home ownership and energy reform to reduce costs, among other initiatives.
He revealed that the government has sent a proposal to the Bahamas Public Employees Union to raise the minimum wage with phased increases from July 2022. And that the government believes that the minimum wage rate must increase due to “ the general erosion of the purchasing power of ordinary Bahamians.
“We also recognize that an important part of our tourism experience is our unique culinary products – and we need to ensure the sector remains competitive. We have therefore also reduced duties on food products used mainly in the catering and tourism sector,” the Prime Minister said.
Sharing the budget outlook for 2022/23, the Prime Minister said the current budget foresees a significant rebound in the Bahamian economy. “Total revenue is estimated at $2,804.4 billion, an increase of 19.9% over the prior year, when the economy was in the early stages of an economic rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It incorporates many of our revenue-enhancing strategies and results, such as increased property tax collections and compliance, improved VAT performance, based on the economic rebound and growth in ‘other costs through improved revenue administration,’ he said.
Also in the budget for the 2022/23 financial year, VAT recoveries are estimated at $1,411.8 million, an increase of 52.4% over the previous year’s budget, the Prime Minister noted. . The Prime Minister also announced that his government would seek parliamentary approval for a supplementary budget for additional spending of $216.9 million and capital spending of $34.4 million, for a total of over $251. millions of dollars. “
This budget provides support for the here and now, and also charts the way forward for a better future,” the Prime Minister said. (BIS Photos/Ulric Woodside)