UPP leader accuses government of using public servants to try discredit its policies

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The leader of the main opposition United Progressive Party (UPP) has accused the Antigua and Barbuda government of using public servants to try and discredit the policies laid out by the party ahead of the March 21 general election.

Harold Lovell, addressing a UPP public meeting on Sunday night, said that no sooner had the party outlined its document outlining the policies, Prime Minister Gaston Browne ordered public servants to make public comments on the policies.

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UPP leader Harold Lovell surrounded by party supporters.

“Because he could not wrap his head around the good plans I have for you – to save you money at the pump, at APUA (Antigua Public Utilities Authority), at Transport Board, and to ease the burden on business people, or because he just hates the thought of you getting the kind of breaks… he told these public servants to show him why it couldn’t be done,” Lovell, a former finance minister said.

APUA’s general manager, Esworth Martin, has written to Prime Minister Gaston Browne indicating that there would be far-reaching adverse implications for the AUPU if the UPP policies are implemented.

“More specifically, the Electricity Business Unit’s revenue would decline by EC$37.5 million per year if that proposal was effected. For an organization that experiences persistent cash flow challenges because of its obligations to the central government, its remittances of at minimum EC$1 million in subsidy (monthly) to the Water Business Unit, it would be detrimental,” Martin wrote

“Debt servicing would be rendered impossible, and wages and salaries would not be paid timely. The management of APUA would not recommend a reduction in the fuel variation,” he added.

But Lovell told supporters that Prime Minister Browne  “like the drowning man he is, he clutched at our plans and called his cronies” adding  “well, the only people Gaston Browne can fool with that stunt are the blind, the dumb, and the even dumber”.

Lovell repeated his party’s pledge to reduce electricity and water bills and dismissed a claim by the ruling party that it had created 6,000 jobs over the last five years after 10,000 had been lost under the former UPP regime.

“Now, the workforce of Antigua and Barbuda is approximately 43,000 persons, with the government being the largest employer. Since the UPP administration did not lay off a single government worker, where were those 10,000 jobs – nearly a quarter of the workforce – lost?

“(Disgraced Allen) Stanford was the largest private-sector employer, but he didn’t employ 10,000 persons. The hotels lost a lot of business in the recession and there was the resultant under-employment even in the high season, but which major hotel closed down permanently?   Is Gaston saying that there were 10,000 “second jobs” lost?  You must ask him to tell you exactly where these 10,000 jobs were,” Lovell told supporters.

He said if a quarter of all jobs in Antigua and Barbuda were lost, then several statutory corporations would have had to significantly cut services, close clinics, cancel scholarships and the like.

“The Board of Education, since its income is derived strictly from employee contributions, quite likely would have had layoffs. Insurance companies would have buckled – since unemployed people would stop paying premiums. There would have been numerous foreclosures on mortgages and repossession of vehicles and furniture.  Corner shops by the dozen would have been forced to close.  Those things did not happen.  Things were tight; there was a significant squeeze, but those things did not happen,” he added.

14 COMMENTS

  1. The Financial Secretary should give a costing of Gaston’s outlandish policy of bailing out failed businesses. The Financial Secretary should tell us how much the duty free costs Antigua. The Head of APUA should tell us how much the electricity write off will cost. As the experts said on the Big Issues, it was a bad idea to have these officials being used by Gaston. But a desperate failed politician would use anybody. Poor Gaston. Such a failure!!!!!!

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  2. Why is it that these UPP people think we have such short memory that we would forget they did the same thing in 2014. Gaston Browne than made a proposal to write of every household balance that was for 90 days and over in arrears. The very same Martin came to the public on ABS and claimed that APUA would lose millions. The then opposition leader Gaston Browne argued that this is death money anyway. because those people just cannot pay and will not come back on the grid anytime soon. So consider it loss. When he came to power he executed the policy ad APUA saw the wisdom with improved cash flow as more people came back on the grid. The same was done for Property Taxes. And here too we had the IRD Everett Christian claiming that it was bad policy. And Browne came to power the policy was executed and IRD reported increase in the collection of property taxes. So it was not the first time that Public Servants were asked to response to proposals made by the opposition before an election. But I guess we seem to forget very quickly

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    • FYI and accoding to those bodies you mention, those who were bailed out stopped paying again, no doubt waiting on more writeoffs.

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      • Liard, where is that information for all to see….typical UPP supporters speak lies they can’t provide evidence for ….. tell us where and when that was said because in know that’s not the facts….too lie

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      • What you are saying don’t make sense cause it means they will be out of utilities waiting for whenever to get a write-off again. Whenever that will be. So in the mean time and between time what. No water or electricity?

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      • And if APUA run their policy right no one can owe more than three months or you will be cut off. Or if you are way above the average that you normally use

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    • So what you are saying is that when in opposition these people said the ABLP’s promises could not be done, but they were in fact done?
      So we should likewise not heed these same people saying that the current oppositions’s promises cannot be done.
      Maybe they should stay out of the fray irrespective of who is in power.

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  3. It’s soooooo appalling… shameful, deceitful and downright false that Mr. Lovell and his Acolytes continue to think we Antiguans and Barbudans is suffering from Amnesia….but the clear headed voter’s will show them on the 21st the reality once and for a all. Grandma would say, UPPITES No habe none heart a tall…dem too damn lie…..

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  4. Mr. Lovell and Co. seem to forget during the period of 2004-2014 they were the government I mean yeah most of them shame from the defeat in 2014 and runaway but still Lovell was there and know they went out of their way to prolong their time in office. Crying wolf like this nah go help you Harold Failure cause Antigua and Barbuda people did not forget your tenure as minister of finance.

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  5. Lovell quantified the arrears at APUA to be in the twelve million dollars yet he doesn’t say how he got to that number

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  6. The request from the PM to the public servants was clear. To advise him weather any of these proposal were doable. If so they would implement them immediately. And some were considered doable and implemented right away. So nowhere did he ask them to discredit their proposals or so called policies.

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