Just 72 hours before the 10th January 1967 general elections, Minister of Finance, Sir Stafford Sands, decided to tell the people where “our” money had gone. Masterfully presented, the economic pie-chart, was an accountant’s dream. But by that time, many Bahamians were more interested in where Stafford Sands’s money had come from, rather than how he spent their tax and borrowed dollars.
Budget information appeared in the newspaper on 7th January, which was a Saturday. Elections were on the following Tuesday. This rush of important information, on the eve of a general election, could be likened to a fireman rushing in with a cup of water after the house had burned down.
What Sands presented was a concise, thorough breakdown of government expenditure. It was masterfully done, easy to understand, even for a layman. The big problem was, that it all came too late.
What Sands disclosed was the breakdown of the government budget. Budgets are attempts at forecasting the financial future with varying degrees of success. Sometimes, as any accountant would tell you, actual may vary greatly from the budget.
Minister of Finance details where the money went…
Sir Stafford Sands, the Minister for Finance, has hit back at what he terms deliberate lies put out prior to the election and he has also explained “where the money went.”
Speaking on ZNS Sir Stafford said: “Our colony is prosperous and our government revenues are rising. Our financial credit with the whole world is high. Our government shows a surplus on each year’s financial operations. The question, however, is being asked, “Where did the money go?”
Sir Stafford went on to say that every member of the House of Assembly, including the Opposition Progressive Liberal Party knew how the money was spent. He explained that a printed copy of the budget had been distributed to every member of the House.
Then Sir Stafford went on to tell where the money went: “In 1966…
2 cents out of every dollar was spent on running the Customs Department,
2 cents out of every dollar was spent on running the Civil Aviation Department.
1 1/2 cents out of every dollar was spent on prisons and industrial schools.
2 cents out of every dollar went on our postal service.
2 cents out of every dollar went on pensions for retired civil servants.
7 cents out of every dollar was spent on servicing our public debt.
6 cents out of every dollar on maintaining our police force.
8 cents out of every dollar was spent on Telecommunications services.
11 1/2 cents out of very dollar was spent on promoting and expanding our tourist trade, the economic lifeblood of these islands.
15 cents out of every dollar was spent on public health and hospital services, to make us a healthy and strong people.
14 1/2 cents out of every dollar was spent on education, in helping Bahamians to fit themselves to fill the important roles in the future of this colony.
Finally, 17 1/2 cents out of every dollar was spent on public works, better roads, better buildings and conveniences for the citizens of this colony.
These figures total 89 cents out of every dollar.
The remaining 11 cents was spent on all the many other departments and salaries for which government is responsible, like the Audit Department, the law courts, forest conservation, the immigration Department, public libraries, the sports centre, the Labour Department and so on, and out of the remaining 11 cents, like a good prudent housewife, we save a few cents to put aside against a rainy day.