Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest.
By LEANDRA ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
FINANCE Minister Peter Turnquest yesterday clarified recent remarks he made on a local talk show, saying it was not his intent to tell people how to spend their money but to only give Bahamians sound “financial advice” amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
He also said his comments were taken out of context and conveyed an unintended message.
During a recent appearance on Hard Copy with host Steve McKinney, Mr Turnquest suggested some Bahamians lacked sufficient funds to pay their rent or mortgage due to spending all their money on food.
“(They) spend all their money on food and then found that they couldn’t pay their rent or they couldn’t pay their mortgage because it’s all tied up in the cupboard,” Mr Turnquest said, in a 30-second clip that made the rounds on social media this week.
The comment sparked public outrage, with many calling the minister’s words “insensitive” to the needs of the unfortunate, “disappointing” and “completely disrespectful”.
Saying the remarks were taken completely out of context, Mr Turnquest told reporters yesterday it was “unfortunate” his statements were edited to falsely misrepresent his views and convey a message that was not “intended”.
He said: “It’s unfortunate that some person sought to cut up a statement or sentence to make it appear as being something that is not intended.
“The host and I were having a conversation about long lines and persons gathering at the food stores and hoarding supplies and the basic comment that I was making was that persons do not have a need to hoard or stand in long lines because the prime minister has indicated that there are adequate supplies for everybody.”
He continued: “And so, just basic personal financial advice, do not spend all your money at once but to budget and to stay within your normal spending pattern because we don’t know how long this is going to take and we know that we need money to be able to take care of all of the necessary commitments that we have.
“So, again it is very unfortunate, and some very sick mind would seek to do something like that but it’s unfortunately where we are today with persons who just want to try and make political points.
“But, again it was no disrespect and there certainly is no intent to attempt to tell people how to spend their money or how to criticise anybody, but just good sound personal financial advice.”
Asked by reporters whether he felt he needed to issue an apology to those who may have been offended, the deputy prime minister said he didn’t believe one was necessary.
“I don’t think any apology is necessary because again, this is not about accusing anybody of doing anything bad or wrong. It’s personal advice, personal financial advice that we should all heed, whether in this time or in normal times.
“And that is simply to fix a budget, live within that budget so that you have security and can take care of all the commitments that you have.”