UPP leadership hopeful says Throne Speech hopeless

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Senator Richard Lewis

Richard Lewis, the man who wants to be the leader of the main opposition United Progressive party, has dismissed the Throne Speech as providing no hope for residents.

Lewis, who is also Senate Minority Leader, issued a press release in immediate response to the speech delivered by Governor General Sir Rodney Williams.

In it, he said the ABLP Administration’s December 2018 Throne Speech delivered no hope of curbing the rising cost of living which is suffocating our people.

“Instead, we can only look forward to new taxes on top of those we are currently dealing with,” he said.

He made reference a new tax on sugary drinks, “which will squarely target low and middle-income citizens and residents.”

The senator said what is shocking is the ABLP Administration appears to believe that Antiguans and Barbudans purchase sugary drinks because they are deliberately seeking less healthy options.

“They fail to see that it is the high cost of healthier drinks, foods, fruits and vegetables, that drives the buying habits of the neediest among us.”

He questioned how a “caring government” could fail to understand this basic fact.

He recommends that taxes on healthier foods, in general, be reduced to drive healthier buying habits, without raising the cost of living.

“Moreover, common sense should dictate that more jobs, rising wages and a lower cost of living should precede any new taxes on food items,” according to Lewis.

He said the Throne Speech is an admission of the poor job creation track record of the government and confirmed that it is bloating the public service to compensate for weak private sector job creation.

“Given the undeniable reality of a shortage of private sector jobs, it is absolutely unconscionable to propose yet another new tax at this time. We, the hard-pressed people of Antigua & Barbuda, believe that the government should focus on lowering the cost of living by introducing the COLA (Cost of Living Allowance) for pensioners.”

The opposition politician wants the Government to provide relief from the high cost of cooking gas and fuel at the pumps, in line with the low world oil prices of recent times.

He is also calling on the authorities lower the electricity fuel variation charge and the cost of water and electricity to farmers.

Lewis said this will result in reduced prices for fruits and vegetables and make for better health benefits for all.

12 COMMENTS

  1. Isn’t he the same one who said the “Tradewinds gang” is conspiring to overthrow him? Interesting that Hon. Jamale Pringle was not asked his opinion. Richard Lewis will soon have to wear sackcloth and ashes after he will have to howl he belly and bawl from what awaits him if he dare contests the leadership against Lovell.

    • Re “Interesting that Hon. Jamale Pringle was not asked his opinion. ”

      I thought Hon. Jamale Pringle has an email address and the ability to issue media statements on behalf of himself and UPP whenever he wants. While it’s tempting to blame media for everything, this may not be ANR’s fault.

      • Blame? Think maybe you set your rollers a little too tight. If anything, this story just shows that the UPP will need a cleansing. A new slate of candidates who the people find attractive. If Richard Lewis is the best they got, then they’re in serious trouble.

  2. Suspect the current leader would argue that Lewis is really what’s hopeless. Here you have government pushing initiatives to empower persons and there is Lewis not seeing the vision. It is mostly the poor who benefit from government social programs that the taxes he wants to reduce pay for. Gas at the pumps is A&B 12.50, 13.96 in SLU; 13.51 in Guyana;Jamaica 15:02; Barbados 22.78. Grenada 15.90. Lewis should be asked where would the funds come from to pay tor things like education if the revenue government garners from the fuel tax is reduced. Recall his leader once reminding the public that this tax helps to pay for things like school equipment (he said chalk).

    • When ABLP promised “Less taxes” in 2014, there were other countries with higher gas than the 14.50 in Antigua. There were also many countries with a higher tax to GDP ratio. The ABLP’s abandonment of one of the 3 core promises that ushered them into power is despeicable.

      Worse still is the prime minister having the gaul to say we are “under taxed” and that we need to move form under 20% tax to GDP to nearer 25%. A total reversal of policy.

      • They have removed income tax. As you can see from the figures quoted before, we have one of the lowest gas prices in the region with the exception of probably Dominica. This government has always stated they are a believer in consumption taxes. This policy offers you the ability to more control how much taxes you pay hence allows you to hold on to more of your earnings.

        As far as the PM and tax collection there has been no suggestion by him that taxes be increased to the general public. The sugar tax is to be revenue neutral which means taxes will be lowered on non sugary foods. Yes I can hear you ask what about funds to pay for university of of Antigua? The throne speech outlines CIP for now as the source for that revenue. Would you really have an issue with paying a tax (direct or indirect) to facilitate our populace being more educated?

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