Audience disappointed at absence of details in Budget 2023 presentation, while Walker questions data and Pringle snubs ABS

Opposition Leader Jamal Pringle

REAL NEWS: In a budget presentation that was a little shorter than two hours, Prime Minister Gaston Browne spoke to number of issues that have been addressed in the past, but did not elaborate on new projects and programmes, as residents had hoped.

Those viewing the delivery online, via ABS’ Facebook page, peaked at just over 800, which was surprisingly low, political observers say.

It was expected that many people would be anxious to hear the new budget, coming off the recent General Election, and since the February 20 Throne Speech had not gone into any details about the Government’s plans.

However, there was clear disappointment among listeners, who say they heard only about the expected growth rate – without specific plans on how the Administration would expand the economy.

Others tell REAL News they were surprised by Browne’s listing of certain social programmes among his so-called economic-relief measures, since they had been instituted nearly two decades ago under the United Progressive Party Administration.

However, the prime minister indicated that the details of upcoming projects will be shared by the substantive ministers during the Budget Debate, which begins next Thursday, March 9.

Commenting on the prime minister’s presentation, Member of Parliament for Barbuda Trevor Walker says he was not impressed, particularly with the plans put forward for the sister-island.

Browne announced there would be several projects for Barbuda, but focused mainly on the continued development of a high-end resort by the Peace Love and Happiness (PLH) project.  But Walker notes that several of these projects have been announced before – but have failed to materialize.

Further, the Barbuda MP says he was not convinced that the figures laid out in the Appropriations Bill, especially those related to the country’s debt stock, are accurate, and he will have to undertake some research and make some comparisons.

Unless some re-categorization was done, Walker says he finds it difficult to believe that the debt stock has remained virtually unchanged.

Meanwhile, responding to Walker’s comments, Browne defended his numbers by saying it was the technicians in the Ministry of Finance who had prepared them.

He chastised Walker for what he deemed as disrespect of the technicians, whom Browne referred to as credible people who had worked hard in preparing the budget estimates.

Browne says he is not surprised that his opponents would find the figures incredible, given that the country had faced many external shocks and challenges; however, he boasts, his administration was able to overcome them successfully.

Meanwhile, when invited to comment on the Budget Presentation, Opposition Leader Jamale Pringle declined – telling ABS anchor Garfield Burford that his contribution to next week’s debate will be his response.

Pringle also told the television host he would not allow what had been done to him after his Throne Speech interview to be repeated.

The Opposition Leader was referring to Burford’s running commentary and naked advocacy for the government, with which he interrupted Pringle’s answers to the questions posed.

It was after this rejection that Burford solicited a response from Barbuda MP Walker.

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  1. At last the 67% of the un-critical thinkers in my beloved Antigua & Barbuda are waking up to the verbal nonsense and lack thereof on economical substance from our Prime Minister (the 33% already knew of this however).

    He previously he got away with distortion and misinformation, however, not only have the citizens of this beautiful country woken-up to his so-called promises, but also having a strong opposition will now hold Gaston Browne and the ABLP to account.

    No more easy rides for you Prime Minister … no more!


  2. Pringle needs to put that nuff Jamaican in his place. Pringle handled himself well in spite of Buford’s impertinence.

  3. This was no budget speach. Just the incoherent ramblings of a lunatic. He has passed the buck to the technicians as he always does, but he obviously does not have the capacity to evaluate the report. The numbers do not compute. For instance, he claims that Antiguans and Barbudans saved something like 140 million dollars in 2022. This is obviously a misrepresentation of facts. Obviously, the five percenters heavy deposits comprised most of the deposits and not the average man. The statement needed to be quantified.
    Where the hell did Antigua and Barbuda attain 8.5% growth? Most be under his armpits. Just regurgitated crap similar to 2020 when he boasted of growth beyond the US and Canada and a few weeks later the country was broke.
    What a gross error putting this clown back into our PM office to allow him to continue his lies!

    • @Watching
      These are the same five percenters that are getting the tax waivers and having their staff paid by the government. No wonder they continue to get richer while the average man catching hell and can’t get what’s owed to them by the government.

  4. Who is the Audience? I mean what kind of reporting style is this? Anyway. Anyone that raises such a question obviously has no IYOTA what a budget presentation is. If you want detail go to the government website and download your copy of the estimates. Other than that, wait for the budget debate to proceed.

  5. As the PM kept seeing, Figures don’t lie. Perhaps Mr. Walker should go to the ECCB Website again and check if the growth is that then PM is talking about is correct. Cause the last time he came to parliament he claimed that the PM was lying and when the ECCB heard about it they had to put a press conference in the newspaper confirming the growth for Antigua and Barbuda. And as usual, Trevor never came back to the people and apologized for his false claim. Now he says he doesn’t trust the debt ratio from the ministry of finance. So, I guess he needs to go and sit with Rosana Davis Crump and let her educate him about the figures. What a thing. And he claimed to be a trained accountant. He may have his B.Sc. in accounts, but that certainly doesn’t make him a certified accountant. He has just scratched the surface of the accounting profession.

  6. @SIDELINES:Figures by themselves do not lie. However,persons have manipulated figures to make things look better. So if Gaston the manipulator, manipulates the figures to make things looking better than they really are in Antigua. Then those figures are a lie.

    • And since these figures are from the ECCB, how then has Gaston with all his smartness manipulate the ECCB figures? You tell me. Or has the ECCB manipulated the figures and then gave them to Gaston. Perhaps you should do yourself a favor, just like Trevor Walker did the last time, call the ECCB and ask them for the fiugures directly. And you may want to also check ECLAC and the IMF and CDB.

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