WHEN Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis gave his mid-year Budget communication last week, it seems something did not add up.
He told the House that the government experienced a net deficit of $285.7m – that’s $7.8m more than the previous year.
The press duly reported this rise in deficit – ourselves included.
Yesterday, Mr Davis started out on the offensive, blaming the press.
However, when East Grand Bahama MP Kwasi Thompson pointed out that Mr Davis’ actual speech last week contained the figures that the press reported, he found a new target – his speech writers.
He said: “That was a misspeak by the writers. That’s why I made a point to correct it. What I said today is correct.”
If that was the case, then why did he not say so in the first place, and why did it take the intervention of Mr Thompson to nudge him to where he apparently wanted to be to make a point to correct it.
Is it really so hard to get up and tell the House that you misspoke and that you wanted to correct the record?
If Mr Thompson had not intervened, would Mr Davis have left it as an attack on the media for accurately reporting his words?
The difficulty with this is of course that we have already seen this administration show great reluctance for being forthcoming with the saga over whether or not Minister of Works Alfred Sears saw the proposal on fuel hedging at BPL.
In December, Mr Sears finally admitted that he had been briefed on fuel hedging – but it took a long while for him to get there.
The email was sent to him in October, but by his own admission it was “several weeks” before he took some time while he was in New York to go through his emails and find that he had indeed received the briefing he denied in the House.
This came after repeated calls from FNM leader Michael Pintard to resign over his misstatements to the House.
To his credit, Mr Davis has clarified the matter far more swiftly. To his detriment, he has tried to put the blame on others.
Ultimately, it is his words and his speech. The speech writer doesn’t carry the blame if the House is misled in any fashion – the person giving the speech does.
So Mr Davis could have handled the matter with far more grace – and a little more respect for those he is addressing.
It is good news that the deficit has not increased – although the drop isn’t much, $276m rather than $281.3m. That’s moving in the right direction, albeit slowly.
There are some positive signs regarding the economy that deserve to be celebrated – our tourism numbers particularly have shown a strong rebound after the lockdowns of COVID.
An error in reporting figures serves as a distraction from that – and pointing the blame elsewhere instead of accepting it, correcting the record and moving on takes the focus off what has been done.
It also lessens trust in other figures that are reported to Parliament – how thoroughly have these details been checked before the House, and the nation, is informed?
Mr Davis should have just accepted the error on his part from the start, and would likely have looked better for doing so. Shifting the blame to others is never a good look, when we all saw him say the words himself.