PM says there’s no conflict of interest as he ventures into commercial farming

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Prime Minister Gaston Browne is challenging his political opponents who have an issue with him venturing into commercial farming to bring proof of a conflict of interest.

According to Prime Minister Browne, for him it is a matter of food security and leading by example.

“I’m now looking at developing a commercial farm that has created some level of consternation for my political opponents … but I don’t know that they can dictate to me where to invest my money,” Browne said.

“If they’re saying to me that there’s some conflict and they can point out where the conflict is then I will certainly correct it.

“But if I’m incorporating a company of which I am the shareholder and I am employing people to work on a farm, I’m funding it, I’m funding my dam, I’m funding all the equipment, the irrigation, etc., and that I go to work, I concentrate on government’s work, I do not leave my work to go on a farm, and there’s no conflict, I’m not selling anything to government — what is their issue?”

According to the Prime Minister, his understanding is that “they are concerned of the fact that I’m building a large water catchment to ensure that I have some water sustainability.”

36 COMMENTS

  1. Hon. Gaston Browne knows Politics. If the Opposition sees conflict of interests let Them bring it on….Prime Minister doing what is right. Let the Opposition promote your NARRATIVES. Hon. Gaston Browne knows how to make news and keep the OPPOSITION Talking !!!

  2. As the fake Rasta Colin use to call you lany bozo, it seem your at it again. The speed at which they allocate lands to you smacks of corruption, especially when wifey is the so-called minister of lands.

  3. Farming is a great thing for the country development. I can recall hearing about farmer brown as a child growing up, its nothing new, now its time for citizen who genuinely have an interest in farming to get an opportunity and this running around for a piece land to stop. Let us all get an equal opportunity to venture into production and job creation if we are serious about building a healthy nation

  4. Mr Browne, from the time you can make sure the whole of Antigua have water at their pipe, then you can go water your garden…until then do your job!!!!

  5. If he is such a businessman and always on the look out for business opportunities, why didn’t he get into agriculture years ago? He should have led the way when talks of diversification of the economy away from the total dependence on tourism was discussed. As the Prime Minister his sole focus should be to create the enabling environment to make agriculture more attractive to farmers and to youths who would like to get into farming. You can spin your entrance into farming as much as you want, however, you will never change the fact that you are just looking for all kinds of money making opportunities. Stop competing with farmers and others and create the environment through government policies for others to get into business. It is shameful as the Prime Minister that you are actively involved in business. Being Prime Minister should be your fulltime employment.

    • Not a word from you when during UPP tenure government ministers were involved in private biz. Recall Wilmoth Daniel had his club. Brother B’s catering biz continued; Simon’s Cort’s, Lovell’s law firm continued with clients utilizing them in the hopes of getting an edge. Brethren how many stat corp’s utilized these firms? You really think them Odebrecht guys would have had Lovell on retainer if not for his former and current political positions? Speaking about farming, the Walter’s brothers did not own a farm? What of Robert Hall? Outside A&B, John Compton (former slu PM) did not own a farm? The way I hear it, he would be at his farm first thing in the morning. The PM is leading by example. Is your fear that he will garner feces from his farm to stone UPP candidates? Look, if it will please you, I will ask the PM to name one of the pigs (Charles) after you–

        • Nor true, at least Hilston Baptist was able to get government lands for a hotel project. He ended up selling it for persons to build homes.

          I highly suspect even the Walter family leased some portion of government lands.

          The lands Mr. A Watt (aka Serpemt) farms aren’t they land’s leased from Ministry of agriculture? You do know there has been a program in place for decades which provides leased lands to farmers? I am told most of our local farmers have availed them self of said program. GB iis not a citizen of this country hence entitled to any benefit it affords its citizenry? Even non nationals have been able to lease government owned lands.

          • Ask yourself this, in which democratic country could a President, Prime minister or high government official take government land, whether buying or leasing to enrich themselves without the people seeing a problem with it. Antigua is a make believe democracy ruled by a leader that do what he wants knowing that the people are sheep. Blaa, Blaa. Best leader in the world. Don’t talk about what happened in the past, talk about what is required for good governance. Can’t believe what I hear from some of you people.

          • @Asking, the PM has not taken any government land. There is a process where anyone can apply to lease said lands. It is my understanding that he (the company he has shares in) has followed the prescribed process. I gather your next issue will be that the PM should not receive electricity from APUA, but instead run a generator.?To your mind the company he has shares in should not get the concessions its legally entitled to, which all persons in the agricultural industry get? Again he is a citizen of this country, hence you should have no issue with him (the company he has shares in) making use of opportunities available to all

            You asked what PM or prez benefits from the economic activity that happens in their nation? Obama, Trump, George Bush.. etc. Basically all leaders who held shares in private companies in order to garner financial gain (yep get enriched). George W Bush was well known for his investments in agriculture. Many US presidents invested in oil companies which leased lands from the US government. Some US politicians also invested in farming companies which have leases of US government owned lands. One such is
            Donald Edwin Young, the current rep for Alaska. He has been in office since 1973. Guy clearly you prefer to see GB poor, but just like all citizens he has the right to invest in whatever legal entity or industry he sees fit. The important thing is that his investments are disclosed and he ensures when needed, he absents himself from voting in cabinet in anything that directly involves him. These days sometimes its about managing conflicts not always about running from them

    • @ CHARLES TABOR
      Why You criticize everything our Hon. Prime Minister Gaston Browne does ? Why don’t you ( TABOR) venture into something useful and stop complaining I am sick and tired of Tabor complaining on this medium every day. Tabor you are now sounding like KNIGHT on Observer Radio. Hon. Gaston Browne I highly commend you on your Farming initiative. Tabor be more OPTIMISTIC.

        • Sideline, Robert Hall was a farmer before he entered politics, and his family owned the lands for generation. Where did the PM get the lands he is farming? You support a man who is darn greedy and wants everything for himself and family.

          • “his family owned the lands for generation.” says you. You care to state how his family garnered the land in the first place? How many Antiguan’s of African ancestry had such access? Again, there has been a program in place for decades which leases government lands to persons interested in farming. Simply contact the ministry of Agriculture if you are interested.

      • If you think the Halls got their lands illegally during colonial times take them to court and reclaimed the lands. You people are loyal to the point of being dangerous as Antiguans would say. How did Gaston get the lands he is farming? You think the average farmer can complete with a man who is finance minister and behind the scene minister of lands with the resources of the government at his disposal?

        • I never claimed they did got it illegally. I only questioned if it was not a conflict of interest for the Minister of Agriculture at the same time being a farmer.

      • @From The Sidelines:
        The late Robert Hall and the other Members of his family owned those lands.A very long,long,time before he became the Minister of Agriculture.They owned Smith’s Estate and New Division Estate.He was into Farming.Before he became the Minister in the PLM Administration.He was also a Livestock Farmer.He owned some of the nicest looking Cows you would have ever seen.

  6. People get real! Watch and understand the PM.
    This is why some people in high places do these things under the table and have someone fronting for them. This has been the norm for politicians across the region for years.
    This PM chose not to do such thing, he came boldly of his intention, but you all still complain.

    • COIN DADLY you really did not get the point. Do you see any other Prime Minister in the region getting into all manner of businesses while in the office of Prime Munister. Get real and not rationalizing.

        • And since the PM has been calling on Antiguans to step up to the plate and no one seemed to want to except Rob Barrett, like a good leader he is now leading from the front. Showing other nationals that they should not be so risk averse.

          • Do you know how many people in Antigua had applied to the Ministry of Agriculture for farm lands and they were told that no lands are available? And do you know how many people are still on the waiting list for a piece of farm land to do farming.

  7. @ CHARLES TABOR
    Hon. Gaston Browne does what ever He wants as long as it is LEGAL. Tabor you jealous Gaston Browne for all His ACCOMPLISHMENTS. Leave our Prime Minister alone. Try and help Harold Lovell and UPP.

  8. I would have thought the conflict of interest is that you are the PM and responsible for putting policies forward. That includes agriculture, and therefore you should be beyond reproach. Whist PM you should be thinking about what is good for the economy and people of the nation. If you think farming is a good idea for the nations’ food security, then why not find ways to build goverment farms and employ people? Or fund new private farming projects?

    Antigua has needed diversification for decades, but no PM has been proactive in thinking outside of the box, or using forward vision for the people. Instead, only using the role of offie to line the pockets of themselves and those around them.

    The PM is aware that as Antigua is reliant on tourism, the lack of tourism will lead to price hikes for certain things in the future, and the first of these things will be food and energy. Its basic economics!

    Thhe sad thing is that he is thinking of himself first, and not the people of Antigua.

    Sad, because that should be his first thought as PM.

  9. It’s not him getting into farming that makes it a conflict of interest. It’s about the office he holds. Can we not see a scenario where a particular farmer or farmers who’s political views may differ from the PM’s not being granted the necessary concessions such as duty free and other tax concessions? Especially on equipment like tractors etc. Isn’t it the PM as Finance minister who signs off on these things directly? I’m for neither UPP or ALP because it’s the system that needs an overhaul. What I will say though is that the by venturing into commercial farming the PM has direct power over this market and with this power he will determine the market share for himself and others. I hope the farmers of Antigua are ready!!

    • The minister of finance signs off on concessions to major farmers? This is the function of the Investment Authority not the minister of finance. The process is actually spelled out on their website via the investment guide. The Amended Investment Authority Act 2019 makes this all possible. The concession are not for a specific person/entity, they are for a category./industry Anyone signing off has to apply the process equally or they can be subjected to a lawsuit.

      • Are you now going to rewrite the law and say who has to sign off on concessions. You must be real crazy. By the way it is a function of the Cabinet. Not just the minister.

  10. @Wadadli Girl
    no I don’t. If you do, please inform us. And by the way perhaps they don’t want land in a particular area where you have no water. That is why the PM is making the investment to build his own dam.
    And you know what you guys problem is. The PM has been calling on Antiguans to invest in their own country in almost every industry. he has even made cheap loans available, yet Antiguans are not coming forward. And again he said we need to lower our import bill, Chinese come here to assist us and we still don’t take on the investment. Well he knows he has to do something about our food security and start leading from the front. Perhaps this will encourage others to put their money were their mouth is. And not about small scale farming. But serious commercial farming. Instead of always complaining and being envious just try to do the same. Invest in your country.

  11. But Ofcourse there is a conflict of interest. The same way it’s a conflict that he OWNS PRIVATE buildings that he rents to the government. The same way he awards government contracts to his son .:: the same way he transferred all that land to his sons mother.. it’s all a conflict of interest but no one says a damn Thing. Corruption at its best

      • That is what they do ALL the time. If you don’t call them out they will get away with making falls statements. And the renting of building to the government was not when he was the PM. That goes back to when he was in opposition. At least he was not paid for removing dead dogs from the street for $500 a piece.

  12. @Asking
    You obviously are not following American news. Trump is the biggest in using government property to make money while in office. Just look at the Washington Hotel he is leasing from the government. And on top of that he uses his own properties to have the government pay his businesses millions. He doesn’t stay in other private hotels or play golf on any other private golf course or even vacation on anyone else’s property. And even have military make stops at his properties overseas. So I don’t know what your beef is with Gaston leasing land from the government. He is not getting it for a special price. And he is investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in it.

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