Analysts wary of Browne’s Budget-2022 promises and voice concerns over hidden taxes, inflation, and over-reliance on tourism

Prime Minister Gaston Browne/Budget 2022/OMP Photo

Having heard the 2022 Budget Presentation, some local pundits are expressing reservations about the country’s new borrowings, saying that certain plans of the Government are simply not credible.

First, they tell REAL News, while the Administration plans to borrow US$200 million for the purpose of stimulating the economy, the disbursement plan provides no clarity on how, exactly, relief will reach those who most need it.

And while Finance Minister Gaston Browne says there will be no new taxes levied on the people, the analysts are concerned that the high cost of fuel and electricity are, themselves, hidden taxes.

More troubling, they point out, is the fact that inflation – which they accuse the Administration of failing to address – is already “eating up workers’ spending power.”

Residents are complaining daily about rising prices, particularly for food, and Political Leader Harold Lovell has pledged that a United Progressive Party Administration will address this.

He has promised to reduce the duty on imported food and remove it altogether where feasible – noting that “a government that says it can do nothing is admitting that it is impotent.”

At the Party’s second campaign rally, held Thursday night, Lovell said the cost of doing business in Antigua and Barbuda is also driving up the price of consumer goods.

He revealed that handling of a 20-foot container incurs a cost of US$720 at our Port, whereas, in St. Lucia, it costs US$350 to handle a container of 40-foot capacity.

These are the factors contributing to inflation, Lovell says, and a responsible government must devise ways to reduce it.

In the meantime, the pundits say, the Budget Presentation did not indicate a “clear timeline on public sector wage-increase negotiations.”

Accordingly, a large percentage of the working population will continue to see its spending capacity dwindle, even as contributions to Social Security edge upwards annually.

They also took aim at the Finance Minister’s promise that the “few” who are still unemployed due to the pandemic will be put back to work this year.  The fact that “there is no plan” to make this happen makes his statement not credible, they say.

And, added to that, they note that “over 1,000 small businesses were allowed to fail due to the Government’s lack of protection during the worst of COVID.”

Accordingly, the analysts say, Browne’s “over-reliance on tourism and lack of economic diversity” will make his promises difficult, if not impossible, to fulfill.

Meanwhile, a member of the Diaspora in Canada is cautioning Antiguans and Barbudans to approach Browne’s Budget promises very carefully.

He notes that the Canadian Federal Government has already approved hikes in interest rates and that some degree of global recession is very likely by the end of 2022. — REAL NEWS

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  1. Yeah sure “REAL” NEWS 🤨😐😏😒🙄

    The PEOPLE will determine who they are wary of on ELECTION DAY. Jonathan Joseph already told us what he thinks and what to do “VOTE ALP”🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩
    We hear you loud and clear Jonathan.

  2. Stone you looking older than your chronological age. You not sleeping well at night. You staying up watching that big hand of banana?

    Get some sleep man. The campaign trail is going to be treacherous. Then again you might not make it out of the convention if and when you choose to call it as party leader. Some of them card carrying members waiting on you. Especially the ROSE bush.

    Would like to comment on your Budget Speech but space does not permit. Observer newspaper article summed it up real nicely. Se La!!!!

  3. It’s time for the people of Antigua to stand up against our lock down. It’s time we take our freedom back. No more vaccine mandates. We are all going to get COVID-19. We have no choice but to live with it.

    It’s time we all stand together to fight for our freedoms like our brothers and sisters in Canada. Yes the same Canadian folks the government here is allowing in.

    This happened Friday, February 4th, 2022.

    Notice the Canadian citizens are united and standing together to fight for their freedom. Also notice the police are allowing the citizens to protest against all the vaccine mandates. The police are not firing rubber bullets, real bullets, tear gas or water at the protestors. The police are allowing the people to PEACEFULLY protest. No one is destroying any property. Stand up for your rights. Rise up my fellow Antiguans. Enough is enough. It’s time to stand up for our rights.

    Enough of the financial suicide that the government has done to us and our country. End government overreach.

    Go Canada. Let’s go Antigua.

  4. Any “analyst” who is willing to do such a critique but is unwilling/unable to provide their name ought not be trusted. Further, REAL NEWS ought to be ashamed of themselves for carrying these kinds of articles that always assert “residents say” or “analysts wary” or “observers believe” without being able to attach a single name to the assertions. Any credible news outlet is capable of getting at least one person who is willing to stand by their comments. It therefore makes you believe that the “analysts” REAL NEWS speaks of do NOT exist. In other words, REAL NEWS is fabricating stories. ANR, you should be very wary of their articles.

  5. My takeaway from the criticism is their feeling that 2022 will not provide the projected growth. The problem for the unnamed analsysts is experts working at ECLAC, IMF, who are willing to be named, have pointed out that 2022, not just for A&B is a year of growth. Why? the covid situaation is now under control. In ANU the economy is now fully open (no SOE). Empirical data (eg travelocity surveys) show that Americans will be traveling more than they did in 2019 (before the pandaemic). Locallly even the experts for the UPP are bullish on growth, but have an adviso that it will happen only if they are elected (pick sence from nonsence)

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