PM disappointed with low uptake at EDF where millions of dollars are available


Prime Minister Gaston Browne has expressed disappointment at the low number of residents making use of monies available at the Entrepreneurial Development Fund (EDF).

The Prime Minister said his administration has gone above and beyond to provide concessions and funding to help Antiguans and Barbuans find their entrepreneurial footing.

“We have, for example, the Entrepreneurial Development Fund — that fund still has a few million dollars available,” the Prime Minister said on Pointe FM’s Browne and Browne Show.

“I hear people saying that we need to make monies available. There’s money available. There has always been money available even prior to COVID.

“And even up to this point, the EDF has not seen any increase in their applications even though there is so much quarrel about how we need to make money available and loans available to the private sector. But there’s cheap money there. We have one per cent money, as low as one per cent,” Browne added.

Lowest tax jurisdiction in the Caribbean

The Prime Minister said he has asked the Economic Recovery Committee — established to develop strategies to kick-start the economy post COVID-19 — to make an extra effort to get greater buy-in on the idea of local direct investment.

He said while locals continue to leave the many opportunities available for business innovation unexplored, undeveloped or underdeveloped, “when the expatriates come then you get angry.”

“We have to develop our own entrepreneurial capacity and it should come out of the private sector,” Browne said.

“I am satisfied that the government would have gone as far as possible to put a good framework in place, a low tax jurisdiction —  the lowest tax jurisdiction in the Caribbean and one of the lowest in the world if not the lowest —  and that’s one of the areas that has literally squeezed government’s finances because of how generous we have been with our tax regime,” he added.

More money to be pumped into EDF

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister said that the EDF is due to get a top up soon.

“We have $50 million in guarantees that we have announced and we also will be making another $50 million available to the EDF and the Antigua and Barbuda Development Bank,” he explained.

“There’s about $11 million that should come from the Caribbean Development Fund, we’ve asked them to expedite that so that the development bank will have that. We have $13.5 million coming from Global Ports and some additional funds will be paid in by the government.”

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  1. The monies are available to a chosen few. Browne and Browne Show.Gaston is a Browne.Who is the other Browne? Gaston Browne,do not count your chickens before they are hatched.Get those monies into your hands before you count them.Monies coming from Tom,Dicky and Harry does not mean one darn thing.The monies are coming ,like the testing is coming next week.For Next Week never comes.

  2. The PM is right on this. Antigua citizens need to be more aggressive about starting new tech, finance, and other types of 21st century businesses. That said, i think the EDF should take small equity positions in Antigua startup-companies rather than giving loans. Loans make entrepreneurs nervous and then they don’t start the kind of businesses that are more risky in tech, etc.

    Also, Antigua needs to be much more aggressive about the blockchain and crypto-currency sector. What happened to CIP candidates being able to pay for their citizenship with Bitcoin? I mean, if the government can’t do things to advance its own tech vision, how can it expect its citizens to?

    Antigua should lower the CIP amount required under the starting-a-business option to $500,000, the current $1.5m is just too much. Also, the CIP program should lower the amount of money required to add a future spouse or child in the future – our program is scaring away single men and women from applying.

  3. I tried this avenue and was rejected because am an ordinary single mother with a simple business. After I paid two thousand for a business and meet all the required documents.

  4. Notes From A Native Son Of The Rock! “The national bourgeoisie discovers its historical mission as intermediary. As we have seen, its vocation is not to transform the nation but prosaically serve as a conveyor belt for capitalism, forced to camouflage itself behind the mask of neocolonialism. The national bourgeoisie, with no misgivings and with great pride, revels in the role of agent in its dealings with the Western bourgeoisie. This lucrative role, this function as small-time racketeer, this narrow-mindedness and lack of ambition are symptomatic of the incapacity of the national bourgeoisie to fulfil its historic role as bourgeoisie.” ― Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth!

    Why is The Right Honourable Prime Minister Gaston Browne disappointed, as the Headline touts, that the People of African Descent have not clamoured to the Entrepreneurial Development Fund (EDF)!

    In this the International Decade For people of African Descent 2015 -2024 with “Rona” running wantonly about, spreading fear, calamities, death and destruction, what is the expectation as GoAB goes merrily from “Entrepreneurial Socialism” to “Empowerment Capitalism!” As Mcluhan wrote in the late 60’s not only is “The Medium is The Message,” The Medium is also the Massage! In the arena of Communications, it still holds!

    De Bust at Da Bridge concedes that sustainable economic growth requires innovation, and innovation cannot be decoupled from creative destruction and incubation, which must replace the old with the new in the political, economic, socio-cultural, technological, legal and environmental ecology! Such Transformation must not only destabilize the established power relations in politics but more so the economic strangle hold of: the Middle Eastern Traders, Land and Property Holders, Merchants and Shopkeepers; North Atlantics Bankers, Buccaneers, Hoteliers and Privateers; and, Asiatics Free Traders, Hospitality Purveyors and Shopkeepers, the Black Elite moneyed classes!

    Yes Sir, Mr Prime Minister, The Historical lessons have taught everyone on the Rock that you will never get the economical environment right unless the political climate is free from the intrigues and vagaries of moneyed class especially those with little respect for People of African descent! 186 years from Emancipation, 69 years from Adult Suffrage, 53 years from Statehood in Association, 39 years of Independence, People of African Descent see “Bakra,” as the ruling Business class, in the highest power positions of Antigua and Barbuda from Education to Diplomacy! From “Scot’s Row” to the “Golden Mile” the Transformation, heralded by the previous well intentioned Finance Minister and the Black Elites, communicates the “Stark Realities” to People of African Descent

    History has shown the People of African descent that it is misguided to hope that once ideas are discussed that they will be made popular, create driven policy and bring about Transformation! The most recent Historical Referent Point of Global financial and economic meltdown in 2008 -2010 and its resultant effects on the economic fortunes of the People saw dreams hopes and realities crushed, with a free fall of the economy by 25% and the Human Development Index (HDI) go from an enviable Position of 47 to 66, from the IMF and UPP NEST Plan of Structural Adjustment and Fiscal Reforms! A&B and other Caribbean SIDS have not recovered their HDI positions as others have overtaken them! The ADB was laid Bare! ABIB was left floundering on the sand bank off Sandy Island to be salvaged by your skillful piloting with assistance from the ECCB captain!

    To create an Environment where People of African Descent go from being “hewers of wood and drawers of water” in all economic sectors of the society cannot be accomplished without a deeper understanding of why they are going from “Entrepreneurial Socialism” to “Empowerment Capitalism” with happy talk and GoAB’s “angel investment money!” There has to be a shared vision and values with the People which is articulated for all to see, read, feel and embrace! It is not about being the lowest tax regime Caribbean SIDS!

    Clearly without a deep understanding and faith, if one lurches from “Entrepreneurial Socialism” towards “Empowerment Capitalism,” you are confronted with the fact that you are traveling the pathway from an inclusive economic institution, supported by an inclusive political institution dedicated to a widely pluralistic and cooperative power arrangement with a high degree of centralization establishing modalities of law and order in the economy to ‘Empowerment Capitalism” driven by a political institution hell bent on concentrating power in the hands of the moneyed class who will always act in their own self interest to hold on to their earned economic power and un-elected political power which Dr. Hilary Beckles, UWI Vice Chancellor has so eruditely written and warned of but sadly and lamentably could not refuse at the Board Level!

    Many Moons ago, GoAB and CWI entered into a most inclusive economic arrangement at the VCBIA! Many had hoped for similar arrangements to fulfill the dream of “Entrepreneurial Socialism” and becoming an “Economic Powerhouse” in the Caribbean! It was hoped that additional Real Estate and Economic Strategic Imperatives would be pursued, such as the purchase of the SIB building to house the CIU, FSRC and more importantly the Eastern Caribbean Securities Regulatory Commission (ECSRC)! Instead the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps was handed the opportunity to purchase the SIB building and GoAB is now paying rent to use and quiet enjoyment in the Facility! There should be no surprise that People of African Descent are convinced that the Deck is stacked!

    This mere voice in the wilderness has been suggesting that GoAB should acquire the lands between AbIIT and ABHTI, merge these two institutions under one Board governance and include Maritime, Oceanography and Marine Engineering studies!

    Yes Sir, The Right Honourable Prime Minister, Gaston Browne, To encourage Antiguans and Barbudans of African descent into Entrepreneurship, create and build an Innovation and Incubation Centre either on the Merged ABIIT/ABHTI Campus or at the old Army Base and begin to re-energize the Industrial Sector at Coolidge! No one doubts you sincerity in encouraging People of African descent into becoming Captains of Industry! The complete Ecological Space and Time must exist! We must seize the Time now! In this global economic recession GoAB should seriously look to engage all sectors in a radical engineering of the economy, not just the reopening!

    Yes Sir, Mr. Prime Minister, you are a man of action driven not only by knowing but by doing! Budding Entrepreneurs will not only require GoAB’s Risk Money and Sponsorship (complete with Industry Champions), they will need, Counselling and Mentoring, Education Training and Information Programs, Networking and Data Analytical Assistance, Shared business Services and Flexible Work and Well built Technology Business Spaces! Where has most People of African descent been shown any of such!

    “The dynamic, pioneering aspect, the inventive, discoverer-of-new-worlds aspect common to every national bourgeoisie is here lamentably absent. At the core of the national bourgeoisie of the colonial countries a hedonistic mentality prevails—because on a psychological level it identifies with the Western bourgeoisie from which it has slurped every lesson. It mimics the Western bourgeoisie in its negative and decadent aspects without having accomplished the initial phases of exploration and invention that are the assets of this Western bourgeoisie whatever the circumstances. In its early days the national bourgeoisie of the colonial countries identifies with the last stages of the Western bourgeoisie. Don’t believe it is taking short cuts. In fact it starts at the end. It is already senile, having experienced neither the exuberance nor the brazen determination of youth and adolescence.” ― Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth!

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