REAL NEWS – Prime Minister Gaston Browne says the Government will have to invest some money into the completion of the new wing at the Antigua and Barbuda Institute of Continuing Education (ABICE).
The redevelopment of ABICE commenced in 2022 with David Harrison – a British philanthropist and a trustee of the Harrison Foundation – donating four million pounds Sterling to the construction of a modernized and expanded facility.
However, there are claims that the Administration has expended that money already, in less than a year, and the Board of Education (BOE) has been directed to take up the slack.
In Parliament on Monday, Opposition Leader Jamale Pringle asked Browne to confirm that the agency has been asked to assume financial responsibility for completing the Harrison wing.
In response, the prime minister said that Government had always been responsible for counterpart funding in the expansion project.
But observers note that this requirement had not been mentioned in previous discussions about the project.
While critics have pointed out that the Harrison donation was quite significant – approximately EC$14 million – Browne blames the funding shortfall on the hike in the price of materials. And this he ascribes to the war in The Ukraine and the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
These circumstances are what forced the Government to need the counterpart funding, Browne claims. Further, Browne says the BOE is the executing agency, and, therefore, it would have had to meet any financial shortfall.
However, if the BOE is unable to do so, then the Central Government will have to step in and complete the project.
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