Gov’t revenue collection slows after Hurricane Irma

Lennox Weston

The government has had some difficulty in collecting revenue because of slow business activity, and the recent storm has the potential to significantly impact its bonds programme.

Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance Lennox Weston said that something must be done to show that things are normal in Antigua and that Hurricane Irma did not significantly impact the destination.

Senator Weston noted that Antigua has an active market programme selling bonds and any perception by investors that they will have difficulty getting back their investment is going to be costly for the country.

“For people who might not understand that we did not get much structural damage on Antigua, but for about 15-20 days, we can’t collect any revenue and that’s about $20 million we are down for the month because activities are slow.

“Now, if you invest in Antigua paper and you hear there is a hurricane, what (do) you decide to do? And so that is another problem, and so we need to get the message out that the revenue generating operations in Antigua are intact, that monies to finance the rebuilding (of Barbuda) won’ t come from core funds, which they think would be diverted and (we won’t be able to) pay back their paper,” Weston said.

He said the message must be clear that the county will be getting additional resources to pay for Barbuda’s rebuilding.

He said the position the country now finds itself in (dealing with the devastation of Barbuda) has damaged confidence in our ability to be able to pay back investors, as many may believe that monies will be diverted to rebuild the sister island.

“(This) is going to cost us some serious money; we have about $40 million at risk for this month alone,” the minister of state said.

He added that the Ministry of Finance has been doing its part by making individual calls to investors to assure them that it’s safe to invest in the Antigua market.

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