Cooper: Govt is “one, big, unmitigated disaster”
The Minnis Administration is one big unmitigated disaster, according to PLP Deputy Leader Chester Cooper who shut down Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest during the budget debate last night.
Turnquest showed up in the House of Assembly with a pointless poster, claiming the former government spent more between 2012 and 2014 than the Minnis Administration did during its first two years in office.
Turnquest, who lives in the ultra-luxurious Bayroc condominium on West Bay Street on the taxpayers dime, wasn’t expecting Cooper to come with all the receipts during his budget contribution.
Cooper and his mustache didn’t come to play.
He was more than happy to remind Turnquest of the $3 billion the FNM borrowed in three years with nothing to show for it but new taxes.
“Let me explain how we arrive at $3 billion. Go to page nine of your previous estimates for 2017/2018; you can clearly see that you, the FNM administration, borrowed $753 million, “ said Cooper.
“Now go to the current estimates.
On page seven, you would see in 2018/2019 $1.09 billion was borrowed.
On that same page look at the 2019/2020 column; $1.35 billion was borrowed. This equals $3.019 billion dollars. That is the figure we are dealing with.”
“So, when I say that you borrowed $3 billion, in addition to raising VAT by 60 percent with very little to show for it, according to the Bahamian people, these are the numbers I am talking about.”
Cooper added, “This isn’t a difficult concept to grasp. The minister should stop obfuscating and speak to what this administration did and intends to do with the people’s money.”
Cooper also clapped back at FNM surrogates who called him a flip flopper for criticizing the government’s 1.3 billion in borrowing after suggesting that the government borrow $1 -2 billion to help jumpstart the economy during the covid-19 pandemic. However, Cooper said the prime minister and deputy prime minister are the real shameless flip-floppers.
Cooper reminded the FNM that it was Minnis who voted against value-added tax while in opposition and said increasing taxes and implementing new ones was the lazy way out, only to flip-flop and increase value- added tax on the backs of the Bahamian people.
He questioned, “Did not the member for East Grand Bahama say in this House on May 3, 2015 that VAT was “regressive and an unfair burden on the poor? Unlike me, he came to this House and flip-flopped big time on that.”
“Did not the member for East Grand Bahama say we needed a proper accounting of the VAT money before they came to office, only to flip-flop when he became minister and say it was right there the entire time?, “ Cooper asked.
“Speaker after speaker screamed from the rally stage asking “Where the VAT money gone?”; only to have their chairman and the finance minister later admit that nothing illegal happened, and that they knew it all along.”
“That is what you call a flip-flop.
Was it not the current minister of finance who earlier this year said we were not going to borrow from the International Monetary Fund only to flip-flop and do just that?”
“Interesting how that works,” he said.
The FNM’s number one line of defense since taking office has been to blame the PLP. However, three years later, Cooper told Turnquest it’s time to try something else.
“I find it incredible, and strange, that as we are facing an unprecedented national crisis, we hear the minister of finance go on and on about what the PLP did,” said Cooper.
“Half the time spent was talking about years past. The Bahamian people want to know the way forward, not to walk with you down memory lane.”
“Newsflash: This is your third budget, might be time for you to move on,” he said.