Davis won't apologise for Central Bank, statistics comments

PROGRESSIVE Liberal Party Leader Philip "Brave" Davis will not apologise for comments he made about the Central Bank and Department of Statistics regarding reporting standards under the Minnis administration.

He released a statement on Sunday responding to Acting Prime Minister Peter Turnquest, continuing the war of words between the two over the country's finances.

Last Wednesday, Mr Turnquest accused Mr Davis of calling into question the integrity and reputations of key institutions in the country by making what he called "unfounded" and "unfortunate political" allegations.

In a statement released a week ago, Mr Davis asserted that not only has Mr Turnquest "failed" as finance minister but that he does not understand the sophisticated world of public finance.

He went on to accuse the minister of attempting to change the way the Central Bank reports its macro-economic information; the way the Department of Statistics calculates its data and the way in which the Ministry of Finance accounts for its disbursements and receipts, saying all this was done in the name of politics.

However, in the House of Assembly, Mr Turnquest hit back at the Cat Island, Rum Cay and San Salvador MP saying his assertions were "ill informed." He said this was reason enough for Mr Davis to offer an apology to the named institutions he sought to "besmirch."

Regarding the Department of Statistics, the East Grand Bahama MP said: "The public comments regarding the Department of Statistics are equally false and damaging."

Mr Davis, who was not in Parliament on Wednesday, said Mr Turnquest took advantage of his absence.

"As to the substantive matters raised by the deputy prime minister, there will be no apology from me and none is required," Mr Davis said.

"He cannot escape responsibility for the confusion over the country's finances. The confusion is entirely of his own making by falsely accusing me of attacking public servants and the Central Bank. There was no attack on the Central Bank or the Department of Statistics by me. That is fiction and a further attempt by the deputy prime minister to cause confusion. I repeat, he will go down in history as the worst minister of finance ever.

"The record will show that the issue of accounting methodology, either cash basis or accrual, was introduced by the deputy prime minister.

"This was done following last year's budget debate in a vain attempt to justify paying off bills that he said were left by the PLP administration from the previous fiscal year.

Political

"The premise was false and the narrative misleading and it was done for political reasons. The aim was to blame the PLP for the high deficit.

"Identifying and paying off hundreds of millions in bills only as a pretext to come to the House to point finger, lay blame and level accusations of mismanagement, wrongdoing and a sinful use of public funds were pure political theatre, not sound fiscal practices and good governance. His actions smacked of manipulation to score political points. The theme of supposed PLP malfeasance connected to a high deficit was entirely the invention of the FNM and their propagandists. This was unbecoming and inappropriate. If there was a desire to change the fiscal policy from a cash-based accounting system to accrual based then he need only announce the policy change, plain and simple.

"No former finance minister has ever done that.

"The country's public finances are worse off because of his actions. I don't want to hurt his feelings but if he were to ask any former finance minister they would tell him that his actions were imprudent.

"For the record, when you disaggregate the actual figures, the only difference between the PLP's deficit predictions and the actual outturn was the unanticipated emergency spending because of the hurricane. The PLP did not mismanage the economy.

"That claim by Turnquest was an utter falsehood."

Mr Davis ended his statement saying the PLP hopes Mr Turnquest would remain true to his word and permit full cooperation with the requests of the Public Accounts Committee on the matter.