Let us welcome 2022, and resolve to use the foundations, we have so painstakingly built, to make it a year of revival, recovery, and resurgence,” was the call of Prime Minister the Hon. Gaston Browne as he delivered his New Year’s Message to the nation of Antigua and Barbuda.
Prime Minister Browne was addressing the issue of his government’s handling of the COVID-19 Pandemic which he said has hurt the people and the economy of Antigua and Barbuda in many ways. He however was quick to point out that COVID did not kill the national spirit of resilience that has been the source of strength of generations of Antiguans and Barbudans, lifting them up from the depths of despair to great heights of achievement.
While pointing out that COVID is still present and that the pandemic has not ended, the country’s leader stated that the nation has managed it better than most.
‘We have developed the capacity to cope with it, so that we could open our borders and keep them open, rebuilding industry and commerce and getting our people back to work. It is that knowledge and experience that our country needs, and upon which it relies, to take our people forward, particularly as new variants of the disease emerge,” stated Prime Minister Browne.
Calling on the nation to build on the progress made so far in fighting COVID, Prime Minister Browne implore nationals, residents and visitors to continue to wear masks, continue physical distancing and the practice of handwashing and sanitizing.
“No people can avoid disease and pandemics or their economic and social impact; but, through leadership, we can choose to overcome the obstacles they present and to turn fear and paralysis to optimism and action. Proven leadership – the combination of creativity, courage, strength, resilience, strategic thinking, and commitment to people – can lead us out of crisis, create conditions for progress and prosperity, and lift up all the people in our land,” he said.
Noting that his government will not neglect anyone, or ignore or see anyone disadvantaged, Prime Minister Browne said that Antigua and Barbuda is ready to resume its egalitarian march to prosperity on which the nation has firmly and convincingly set its feet. “We can do it. And we certainly will do it,” he said.
While arresting the challenges posed by COVID, the government managed to keep the economy afloat, maintaining full public sector employment, incentivized the tourism sector and safeguarded private sector jobs in construction and hotel refurbishment.
In addition, the Gaston Browne administration continue to renew and expand the infrastructure in roads, government buildings, ports, water supply and digital capacity.
“We moved forward in dire circumstances, where other countries have reversed. Showing faith in your government’s leadership, we, the Antiguan and Barbudan people, picked ourselves up and fought our way back; though the road was arduous and the journey long,” said Prime Minister Browne.
It is reported that the efforts of the government, despite the battering from COVID 19, have resulted in the economy of Antigua and Barbuda growing by some 4 percent in 2021.
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