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
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.