Prime Minister Gaston Browne made yet another commitment ahead of the March 21st General Elections, this time to the business sector.
Browne presented his Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party’s 2018 manifesto entitled, Vision 2023 and Beyond, today at the Multipurpose Cultural Centre before a packed audience of well-wishers and party supporters.
“What we’ve decided to do is to put together a business recovery package,” announced Prime Minister Browne.
“My government will undertake to assume a number of [private business’s] bad loans up to 75% of the value of the security.”
Browne said that this will, “ensure the continuity of the business, continuity of employment and at the same time it will assist domestic banks, in particular, in cleaning up their loan books.”
The Prime Minister promised to do this while making another promise to the sector to lower corporate taxes from 25% to 20%.
Staying with the private sector, Browne said that he has already allocated $1 million for an Entrepreneurial Development Fund (EDF) that will be operated by the Antigua and Barbuda Investment Authority and managed by the Antigua Development Bank. This fund will seek funding for entrepreneurs.
The manifesto also boasts of use drone technology for delivery of medicine homes; an urban renewal program to get rid of all of the dilapidated houses around the island; a third reverse osmosis plant specifically to service farms on the island; and a ‘Happy Initiative’ that affords up to a $20,000 grant towards the purchase of a new home.
The manifesto also promises an investment of $270 million joint venture between APUA (Telecoms) and other telecoms companies, including small local operators in Antigua and Barbuda, to deliver the Superfast Broadband that will, “catapult us ahead of the Caribbean.”
Browne also tackled the issue of the high electricity prices on the island charged by the Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA).
“High utility rates are not unusual for this region. It is a structural problem. It’s not a case of price gouging as some would want you to think,” he said.
“The only way that we can reduce the cost of electricity on a sustainable basis is to reduce the cost of electricity. We also need to ensure predictability, stability… rather than subjecting the country to the vagaries of oil prices.”
The Prime Minister says that his government will lower the electric price by, “investing in green energy.”
He has vowed to invest $40 million in a combination of wind and solar technologies and has already issued contracts to and that the funding is in place and will be coming from the Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank.
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