Antigua & Barbuda To Borrow ‘Hundreds Of Millions’ To Help Ride Out Covid-19

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Prime Minister Gaston Browne

Prime Minister Gaston Browne says Antigua & Barbuda will have to borrow hundreds of millions of dollars to “ride out the COVID storm.”

In an address to the nation today, Browne said the global effects of COVID-19, hit our economy long before the virus reached our shores.

He said because of this, Governmentโ€™s revenues have reduced considerably over the last few weeks from cancelled cruise ships, cancelled airplane landings, and cancelled hotel bookings.

Browne who is also finance minister predicts that the Treasury will be further depleted in the coming period, presenting the government with significant challenges to deliver the customary goods and services in all sectors of our community.

He announced that “there will have to be belt-tightening, as hard choices are made to tide the entire nation over this difficult period that we did not create but, from which we could not escape.”

The prime minister also announced that in addition to the previous interventions; “our government will borrow a few hundred million dollars, to cover us for as long as we can, but the efficacy on the economy will depend on how soon the world and our own country, can throw open its doors to normal economic activities.”

Additionally, APUA will reduce electricity bills by 20 percent, to bring relief to their customers and no one will be disconnected during the next 90 days.

Also as part of the COVID 19 stimulus, effective Monday 30, 2020 the price of petrol, that is, diesel, and gasoline for fishermen will be reduced by 20 percent and the dollar barrel initiative will be reintroduced immediately for 90 days.

“Our government is encouraging increased investments in the construction sector to mitigate against the decline in tourism revenue and the unemployment form the closures.ย  To this end, we will extend and expand the CABI initiative for a further year and increase the threshold to $500K.

We will also incentivize home renovation and expansion during this one-year period.

As we continue monitor and assess the socioeconomic fallouts, additional relief measures will be introduced,” Browne said.

He added that “Our government while seeking to keep the economy afloat, will never compromise the health of the nation to save the economy.ย  We will continue to expand our healthcare capacity to manage this existential threat facing our people.”

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33 COMMENTS

  1. Mr PM I anticipated this and made a suggestion
    Shake down all the economic envoys and ambassadors.

    This is their time to shine. When things good any man in a suit can seek economic activity.

    Now is the time for all the envoys to put up or get
    Going. Shake them down Mr PM when you are deep dodo you find out who your real friends are.

    Swallow pride and borrow some money from St Kitts they are not the Economic Power House but they are the liquid cash house…

  2. By the way since the people tightened their belt the last time you asked them to, they have not let it out since.

    Any more belt tightening may result in axphexia.

    The money you are borrowing a percentage must be invested to generate revenue to assist with servicing of the loan.

    When will the announcement of the EC dollar devalue be made.

    If all the members of the currency union borrow 100s of millions it’s not a matter of if but when.

    • MELCHISEDEC, why are you scare-mongering? Are you purposely trying to further scare and frighten the public with this devaluation thing? Donโ€™t you think they are already scared enough by the virus? Give it a break and a rest please!

      • What if he has s point tho?
        I rather be worried and prepare for such a thing rather than waking up a morning and be completely caught off guard. If is one thing we learnt from this virus is that it is better to be alert and take preparatory and precautionary measures even if you are scared and worried to having this virus catch you by surprise and with you with 0 ways of helping yourself all because certain people didnโ€™t want to alarm others.

    • @melchesidec
      How will devaluing the EC dollar benefit the EC countries? Do you realize that all loans in foreign currencies will require more EC dollars for repayment. Antigua imports everything and export nothing. Devaluation would have a very negative impact on the country. Jamaica and Guyana have low currencies. Are they better off. You people who keep talking about devaluation should take a permanent pause.

      • @Jackie
        The EC dollar is already devalued….

        Say you have 100K in the bank five years ago…….Can that 100k purchase the same amount of goods in 2020 as it did in 2015. If it cannot then you must conclude that the value of the dollar has lessened.

        Inflation simply means their is a decline in the value of the dollar.

        Saving money in a bank in 2020 is not a good idea because as prices go up your saved up money goes down in value.

        Listen they do not teach these things in school eh… You gotta reason it out for yourself. Think think and reason for yourself.

        • Inflation and devaluing your currency are two different things. Devaluing the currency will cause hyperinflation, resulting in more hardship for the population as the dollar buys less than it did before. Take a chill.

      • @Jackie
        One more thing as I said they do not teach these things in school you gotta figure them out by looking at the system…..now

        Even though the tourism sector has collapsed do not be surprise if the PM announces that Antigua and Barbuda had significant growth, and he would go on to boast that this country has the highest growth rate during the COVID cricis.

        How could that be possible you may ask simple… Increased Borrowings enough said you go and figure that out.

  3. Remember to lower the price at the pump to help the vast majority of the population.Please tell the people the sources. You would be borrowing those “Hundreds of Millions” of dollars from.No hiding and go seeking time.Be up front,show the dealers,the people, your hand.Use that magic word transparency.

    • And what if the borrower wants to remain anonymous? should the government then turn down the money? Don’t forget these things are revealed as line item in the annual report. And at this time beggars cannot be choosers.

      • From the Left field Sidelines:
        Why would a lender want to remain anonymous.This is the Administration seeking to borrow monies on our behalf.This is not a personal loan to Gaston Browne.Whereby the lender is private and does not need to reveal the name.We would want to know the amounts and the interests rates to be applied to such loans.That would be the common sense thing to do.Unless you would have something untoward and fishy going on.This is not the time to play.

      • The Church is the best source, to garner such funds from now, in these perilous times. Their coffers and assets can take it.
        God won’t get mad, if they return some of what they stole from the People, interest free.

  4. Prime Minister,Gaston Browne: Where are you going to borrow those funds from? How many hundreds of millions do you intend to borrow.As a National and a Taxpayer of Antigua and Barbuda.I have a right to know.

      • From The Sidelines: I perform my duties in a respectable manner.I pay all of my property taxes in advanced every year.I know my darn rights.And none of you fat guys are going to take that away.None of you,political hacks.I do not ask for anything from politicians and take nothing.I have built a few houses in Antigua.I took no concessions from the Government.Because I spend my money in Antigua without political interference.

  5. Hi Mel. We are blessed to. have such a Leader at the helm in this most difficult time. He inspires hope in the community, and has a responsible plan that will carry us through this chaotic time. Your suggestion of putting the diplomats to work on our behalf is a wise one. It might also be time to cut the salaries of all MPs, members of Cabinet, and Permanent Secretaries “temporarily” as a belt-tightening measure. Let them lead the way. TOGETHER WE WILL SURVIVE! Perhaps our good friends in China and Cuba can give us some sound advice. THIS IS AN EMERGENCY. Solidarity is needed to beat back this Covid-19 monster. Some are already saying this is not a virus; it’s a PLAGUE.

  6. Mr. PM, Thank you for reintroducing the dollar barrel program for 90 days. And also for the other COVID-19 related relief measures. ABLP cares!

  7. Gaston brown reduce the price at the pump for all citizens not just the fishermen for everyone

  8. These measures dont go far enough. A barrel of oil is at an all time low the public should get a relief at the pump. Please adopt all the measures put forward by the leader of the opposition. He is tried and tested he brought us through the 08-09 financial crisis. We know the country is not as liquid as St kitts we all know about the wasting of our CIP monies but the UPP’s measures would go a long way. When you were on Insight you had a lot of chat.

    • Baby steps Juju. When we learn to count we start from 1 before we get to 10. I am sure that more measures will be introduced along the way.

  9. How much hundreds? An about figure….again? Poor Antigua.
    Think we will hear how much? Who were borrowing from? What interest rate borrowed at? What these hundreds of millions will be used for? Who will be responsible for spending them? Who will report on the spending? Will the picky-head people get this report. Questions from foolish people.

  10. When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when you lose health, you lose something; when you lose courage, you lose everything.
    Thanks Mr.Presindent

  11. You know many underdeveloped countries and small islands would find themselves in this period in the arms of the IMF. I am hoping and praying that our PM can keep us out of the devil’s arm. Because they cannot wait for us to come back so they can continue what they had started under the UPP.
    God Bless our PM and Cabinet with wisdom from above to stear the ship of state through this horrible time. And the sad thing is some among us wish he would fail, just because of their envy, hatred and politics. But who God Bless no men curse.

    • What exactly did they do under UPP and what are the rates we are borrowing at from these u known lenders. IMF is 3% where can you gat a lower rate?
      And why donโ€™t you publish the IMF report, you kicked them out so letโ€™s see what they have to say.
      Little St. Kitts just launched a 100 million dollar relief plan for their citizens and economic powerhouse Antigua the fastest growing economy have to run hat in hand begging for money. You choir singers want us to believe that borrowing from CDB, Venezuela or Swiss Banks at 7 to 11% interest indicates better fiscal prudence than from the IMF at 3%. The only difference is that the IMF chat out your business so you canโ€™t use the money for self enrichment.

    • Isnt it the same you wished UPP? Check this:
      UPP under IMF gave a stimulus.
      BARBADOS under IMF is giving a stimulus.
      ABLP with more than 2billion given to them by UPP via the CIP, making more than 7 dollars per gallon on every gallon of fuel sold in Antigua, cannot even give a stimulus, like St Kitts and Grenada.
      Sure you want to argue about this???

    • From The Sidelines:Where is your brother “Four Out of Tenman”.He has been very quiet for some time now.The Boss took his speech away,tongue cut out.LOL

  12. From The Sidelines: You would be going on all fours back to the IMF to beg/borrow.Remember the IMF that you booted out of Antigua a few years ago.What goes around comes back around and kick you in your rear.Sometimes it is good to use honey instead of vinegar.You would choose your battles and wars.Choose wisely !!!

  13. A song writer writes “Captain yr ship is sinking, the oil pressure is low, please tell us what to do”. In this instance, these lines will certainly not apply….. Having PM Browne at the helm, his forsight, his competence and his wide knowledge base of economics & financing will certainly keep this ship of Antigua & Barbuda, afloat.
    We, as his crew, need to play our part. If we need to tighten our belts as instructed, let’s exercise such wisdom and I can be assured that together with God’s grace & mercies, we will over ride these turbulences of Covid – 19, with success.

    • @Buddy Bloke or Bloody Bloke. What kind of foresight would lead to the taking away of the millions Medical Benifits had saving for this rainy day? Similar actions on all of our institutions have left us bare and exposed. Point to one example of any such foresight other than just being a govt of borrow, spend and personal enrichment.

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