RESPONSE TO BUDGET 2021: Jamale Pringle, Leader of the Opposition

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Mr. Speaker, Good Morning.

 

On behalf of the United Progressive Party, I rise to respond to what should have been the most important Budget Presentation of this Administration.  I say “should have” because, like the rest of Antigua & Barbuda, I remain deeply disappointed by what was presented.

 

For nearly three hours, we listened.  For more than 50 pages, we read.  And, yet, nowhere could we find a paragraph, a sentence, or a phrase that contained either “hope” or “empathy” for the people of Antigua & Barbuda.

 

Not a word of understanding for the plight of the middle-class.  Not a murmur of sympathy for the despair of the poor.  Not a hint of relief for the small and medium-sized businesses.

 

Hence, we could not help but wonder if the Minister of Finance lives in the same Antigua & Barbuda that we inhabit.

 

The Presentation was titled “Maintaining a Healthy Nation and Restoring a Vibrant Economy,” and so I will speak about the Nation’s health first.

 

Mr. Speaker:  Less than two weeks ago, the Prime Minister boasted that “we are amongst the few countries in the world with a low rate of death, a low rate of infections, a high rate of recovery, and no known community spread.”

 

But, between December 31st and last Friday, February 5th, we recorded 140 new infections of the COVID-19 virus.   Almost as many in that six-week period as we recorded in the whole of 2020.

 

There are 28 persons hospitalized as compared to two (2) at the end of December, and 105 active cases now as compared to six (6) then.

 

Most important, Mr. Speaker, the dashboard also showed that there were 51 more local cases than imported.  And, yet, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Health are still trying to convince us that there is NO community spread.

 

Mr. Speaker, there is no time in the history of Antigua & Barbuda that we have been more worried about our health than we are now; not even at the height of the AIDS pandemic.

 

Do you know why we are so worried, Sir?  Because the people of Antigua & Barbuda do not trust the authorities. They don’t trust them to tell us the truth, and, worse, they do not trust their abilities to handle what is happening.

 

This distrust is well founded, because, despite the urging of myself, the UPP and the public, the Government never saw the need to implement random testing.  Not even to the frontline workers, despite a number of promises to test them first.

 

And, Mr. Speaker, even if you read through the Budget Statement with magnifying glasses, you will find no concrete plans to stem the spread, or even a programme to educate the people.  Just business as usual while everything unusual is actually taking place.

 

All the Prime Minister says is: “Our Government will continue to do everything possible to guide our nation successfully through this era….”  But do WHAT exactly? We are yet to hear.

 

I can only hope that the management of the vaccines, when they arrive, will be handled in a more professional and transparent manner than we have seen so far.

 

In the meantime, the mantra continues to be: “Punish the People,” as if we are not being punished enough in this stumbling economy already.

 

 

 

LIAT 

 

The Prime Minister makes reference to the LIAT situation in his presentation, and describes it as “a major threat to regional air travel and to regional integration itself.”

 

But while he has gone to great lengths to see LIAT rise again, it is rising on the breaking backs of the workers, most of whom have been at home, unemployed, since last March when our borders were forced to close.

 

Again, Mr. Speaker, I invite you to search the Budget Presentation.

Apart from one small paragraph where the Government “pledges to do all in its power to address their legitimate concerns” of the severed LIAT workers, there is no mention of any PLAN to pay.

 

Only what the Prime Minister insists on calling   “a compassionate payment” to them.

 

  • First, there is no such provision in industrial-relations law.
  • Second, the Administrator, Cleveland Seaforth, has acknowledged that the severed workers have a legal expectation to be paid their benefits.
  • Third, no mention is made of how much actual money is involved in this “compassionate payment.”
  • And, fourth, absolutely no mention is made of WHEN they are going to get it!

 

What  is happening here, Mr. Speaker, is an abandonment of the middle class by this Labour Government.

 

When you consider the decades some of these workers have invested in LIAT; and when you consider the lives they have built over these years on the strength of that investment, you will see that the situation is going to decimate hundreds of families:

 

Mortgage loans, insurance payments, and property tax.  Vehicle loans, licensing and insurance.  College and tuition fees for children.  Financial support for aging parents.  Food on the table.  Utilities. These are just some of the obligations that have continued long after the LIAT workers were sent home last year.

 

Yet, not a word about how the $79 million in severance payments will be made… .

 

The Government received US$20 million from Venezuela for an injection into LIAT.  Why wasn’t a portion of it used to pay the workers even a percentage of their severance?

 

While it would be a wonderful thing to keep LIAT flying, Mr. Speaker, the decision this Government has taken is going to keep at least 400 families grounded.  Quite possibly, it is going to plunge them into bankruptcy, repossession of their property, and mental breakdowns.  Many of them are on their way there already!

 

In the meantime, the regional integration the Prime Minister uses as justification does not depend solely on LIAT.

 

The fact is that every one of the islands LIAT used to serve has already made arrangements for travel at this time.  And the truth of it is that passenger loads continue to be low because of unemployment; the fear of travel; and the cost of testing associated with travel.

 

As my colleagues have asked, in other forums, why has the Government not moved into other specialized areas of the aviation industry, creating a regional hub for engineering, mechanics, pilot training, etc., as our Political Leader has suggested?

 

Why not move toward a specialty area of study for The UWI Five Islands campus? Surely, a number of these industry veterans can be utilized on the teaching staff and not just take up seats in the classroom as students who are re-tooling?

 

 

Job Security and Job Creation

 

Mr. Speaker: The LIAT situation is just one example of Government turning its back on the workers of this country.

 

Consider the Prime Minister’s own acknowledgment that Social Security contributions have declined by 40%.  That 11,000 fewer people are contributing to the Social Security Scheme since the pandemic.  His statistics said that 70% of these used to be employed in the hospitality sector.

 

What we have here, clearly, is proof that there is no longer anything called “job security” in our shifting economy.  And what this means is that what we call “the grassroots” now have no safe ladder to climb into the middle class.

 

The waitresses and bartenders, the groundsmen and room-service workers, the receptionists, the cooks … all those who traditionally made up the bulk of hotel workers will have no means of improving their situation.

 

But what does this Government say to these at-home workers?  Nothing!  Not a word about them other than “nobody will go hungry” because we are giving out food vouchers… .

 

On the other hand, this Administration is boasting that its contribution to the economy is keeping public-sector workers employed.

 

As our Political Leader has pointed out, that is nothing to boast about; because none of the other regional governments has sent home civil servants.  Not even those, like St. Kitts, which has been able to offer assistance to the unemployed.

 

But even as the Prime Minister is boasting on one hand, he has not ruled out that Government workers could be “put on days” if the economy does not rebound quickly enough.

 

And we already know what is happening with the statutory corporations, where one is paying the salaries of the other, as is the case with the Transport Board and Social Security.

 

Mr. Speaker, I see this as evidence that our economy was in trouble long before COVID-19 hit us.  When the Government came here to Parliament and enacted legislation to enable one statutory body to bail out another, the handwriting for this economy was already on the wall.

 

 

Small Businesses – The Struggle

 

Now, given the absence of any job security at all in the private or public sector, this is the time for a Government with empathy and vision to put stimulus measures in place.  To help the unemployed create self-employment.  And to assist struggling small businesses to find their feet and remain open through this rocky period.

 

But that is not on the cards.  At a time like this, all the Minister of Finance can talk about is the plan to collect more taxes and punish those who do not comply.

 

Mr. Speaker: The problem for most self-employed and small businesses is cash flow.  They simply don’t have it, because of the slow and low turnover of business.

 

And, on top of that, I can tell you, firsthand, that a significant amount of money is owed to small businesses by the Government itself.

 

When the Finance Minister noted that the Government spent $83 million less than it had budgeted for 2020, who do you think was affected, Mr. Speaker?  It was all the small businesses they chose not to pay. 

 

That is why so many of our operations have ended up in a hole in 2020; and this is why another couple hundred businesses are going to fail in 2021.  Because Government’s non-payment to 10 means that supplies and services from another 20 will have to be cancelled.

 

In the meantime, the Prime Minister said that, where Government is unable to pay, or to pay in full, it will offer contractors land to settle their debts.

 

Now, the problem with this is that land is a limited resource.  And to use land to pay past debts is to give away the future.

 

Already, farmers are complaining they cannot get land for either agriculture or to graze livestock.  And the Prime Minister admitted that just over 60 residential plots of Crown land were distributed in 2020.

 

So, my questions on this are:

  • Where is this land-for-debt policy enshrined? In which piece of legislation can I find it?
  • Which lands are being used to settle debts?
  • And how does the Government determine which contractors will be offered land?

 

Because if it is being done by favour – rather than by fairness – then another huge problem is being created for the business community:  Meaning that only those hand-picked by Government will survive.

 

And, further, acquiring land – except for immediate re-sale – is not going to put cash in the till to pay wages, clear goods at the Port, or pay statutory contributions.  The only option left to them is to apply for an overdraft… .

 

Before I go further, Mr. Speaker, I have to ask here: How did an Administration that collected nearly $2 billion in CIP revenues get to the point of being so broke that it has to end up trading the people’s assets for debts?

 

Another problem that I must bring to the attention of the Prime Minister is the hardship being inflicted on small and medium-sized businesses by the Inland Revenue Department.

 

Complaints are being made about the unrealistic assessments on past earnings.   What they are saying is that they received no alert or notice from Inland Revenue that they had reached the threshold for collecting and paying in the ABST.  And now, five years later, they are being billed for backdated income, and penalties are being attached.

 

They are not opposed to paying, Mr. Speaker.  But at this time, when their level of business is so low, they are not able to pay the kind of money that is being demanded.  So, ultimately, they are going to fail.

 

A third and urgent problem is the Unincorporated Business Tax, which is proving to be a serious dis-incentive to small enterprises.

 

It makes no sense for a person to get into business if he is not allowed to claim a proper salary among his expenses.  As it stands now, a business owner who pays himself more than $3,500 a month – which was the exemption for income tax – is liable for the balance of his salary.

 

And if he invests in a property to house his business, he is not allowed to claim the rent the business pays as expenditure.

 

What this does to the small business owner is drive him out of entrepreneurship and into employment with an incorporated company, where he can earn as much as he is able and pay no taxes on those earnings.  It also forces his business to pay rent to a landlord instead of creating an investment property for himself.

 

These are real problems for the small man or woman, Mr. Speaker.  But they can be corrected once there is the political will to assist rather than penalize.

 

Solutions

 

To give these entrepreneurs and small operators some relief, and to ensure that more of them do not go under during this pandemic, we recommend that the legislation be amended.

 

First, we believe the Ministry of Finance should make it the duty of the Inland Revenue Department to notify businesses that they have reached the threshold for the collection of ABST.

 

Inland Revenue officers are in the better position to monitor these developments and to alert businesses to their obligations.  And it will be a win-win situation for both the Treasury and the operators who will be able to make timely payments and avoid penalties.

 

Second, the legislation on the Unincorporated Business Tax must not be a disincentive to business creation.  The limits on salary payment and rental of investment property must be adjusted to reasonable levels.

 

This is one way to lower the reliance on “employment” and build a larger and stronger class of entrepreneurs and small businesses.  In this way, the country builds greater resilience against the economic shocks that topple large investors.

 

And, finally, on the matter of solutions:

 

As a responsible Parliamentarian, I understand the need for the Government to collect the taxes that are due.  But as a responsible businessman and citizen, I understand, as well, that taxes need to be applied and collected fairly.    

 

Therefore, I advise the Government to assess very carefully its approach to taxing purchases made online, particularly from Amazon.

 

It is not enough for the Prime Minister to simply attack the Customs Department and accuse the officers of not doing their work.

 

  • Government has to seriously look at how taxes and charges are levied and give relief where it is practical to do so.

 

  • It has to ensure that these taxes are applied objectively; that a large business with political connections does not get a free pass, while a struggling enterprise is driven out of business.

 

  • And it has to ensure that the Prices & Consumer Affairs Division is constantly on the job to prevent price-gouging on goods.

 

In short, Government has to find ways to incentivize consumers to shop right here, at home – because it is affordable – rather than simply tax and double-tax online purchases.  Otherwise it runs the risk of driving micro enterprises out of business completely.

 

Many home-based businesses and vendors rely on goods bought online to make a living here.  If the Government makes it prohibitive to clear their goods, then it is contributing to the death of this important sector.

 

But the bigger picture here – the important macro picture – is that Government must IMMEDIATELY begin to find ways to capture and capitalize on the online market, since this is the future of all business.

 

Mr. Speaker: The UPP recognized this nearly two decades ago when it began an aggressive program of Information Technology education in the schools, in the communities, and in award-winning training programs.  And it created tax exemptions on computers and all products related to the expansion of IT.

 

You see, it was preparing its citizens and the business community for the day when business would no longer be “usual.”

 

Unfortunately, because this Administration lacked foresight, or simply prefers its transactions not to be documented, it shut down most of these programs.  And now this COVID-19 pandemic has caught the Government flat-footed in education and in business.

 

Now they are seeing that the people should already have been prepared to learn and work from home.  That the old model of renting an expensive space in downtown St. John’s is being replaced by the “warehouse-to-your-house” model.  That, instead of taxing businesses out of existence, it is more profitable to incentivize them into existence.  And that local investment is just as critical as foreign direct investment.

 

 

In his 2021 Budget, the Prime Minister has excluded technology completely from his development and economic plans.  It is clear, Mr. Speaker, that the UPP was not ahead of its time.  It was simply decades ahead of the Labour Party Administration.

 

 

Public Debt Developments

 

It has been said already, Mr. Speaker, but I need to put it on the record here in this Honourable House:

 

The Prime Minister is fooling the people when he claims that Antigua & Barbuda is unable to access low-interest financing because of our high per capita income.  As we say on the street, “Nutten tarl go so!”

 

Several of my colleagues and our Political Leader have pointed out that Antigua & Barbuda does not boast the highest per capita income in our region.

 

St. Kitts is ahead of us, as is Barbados.  And, yet, both countries enjoy concessionary rates on IMF loans, and both have been able to offer tangible assistance to the unemployed and small businesses.  Trinidad & Tobago’s per capita income is on par with ours, and that government received low-interest funding from the World Bank.

 

Further, when the UPP borrowed from the IMF at an interest rate of less than 2%, Antigua & Barbuda was already designated a high-income country.

 

The truth of the matter is that this Administration is afraid of being exposed.  The figures and statistics the Finance Minister brings to this House and reports to the Nation are of the Government’s own making.  They are submitted to ECLAC, and that agency makes projections on what it is fed!

 

But which international agency verifies the Prime Minister’s claims? Not the World Bank, and not the IMF, which is not even allowed to publish the annual Article IV Report.

 

Why?  Why are the people of Antigua & Barbuda not permitted – by the Government they elected to tax them – to see a report on their own economy?

 

 

 

It is this absence of transparency that is keeping us shackled to high-interest loans!   And it is the Prime Minister’s fear of being exposed that is keeping families, and businesses, and entire sectors without any form of stimulus or assistance – except a bag of groceries every few weeks.

 

The lack of stimulus is  not about what you, The People, will do with the money you’re given.  It’s about him, not telling us what he has done with the money we have given him! 

 

Another thing: It is time the Minister of Finance stops fooling the population with these grand figures that put our growth ahead of everybody else’s.

 

Growth can occur every year without the population feeling it in their pockets or seeing it on their table.  All it takes is a few projects – like the PLH on Barbuda, the Chinese development at the Port, or even YIDA, which contributes absolutely NO TAX REVENUES – to slant the figures.

 

As somebody told the Prime Minister on social media just this weekend: “Leadership is not about being the best.  It is about helping everyone else to do better!!”

 

How much better is everyone doing under this budget that is designed wholly and solely to capture more revenue from the poor and add more to the pockets of the rich?

 

Which civil servant is better off under this Budget? Which farmer? Which small business? Which LIAT or hotel worker?  Let them tell us about growth we can believe in!

 

And so, because the Finance Minister is too embarrassed to approach the IMF after his rude and coarse behaviour to their officials, he is pressuring the domestic banks to extend credit.

 

The Antigua Commercial Bank has already gone outside its lending guidelines, and many believe that Caribbean Union Bank is also at risk for doing the same.

 

I have to ask again, Mr. Speaker: What has this Government done with all the money it collected from the CIP Program?  How did our situation get to this?

 

 

 

And I have to note, here, that the Prime Minister credits ECAB with contributing $30 million to the Government in taxes and dividends over the past six years.  This is the same ECAB that was created from the UPP’s intervention when the Bank of Antigua was threatened by failure in 2008.

 

This Administration has injected at least $30 million of the taxpayers’ money into CUB, a private bank; but apart from saying it has “started to make profits,” there is no quantification of its contribution to the public purse.  Why the omission?

 

 

Monetary Developments 

 

Using a lot of banking terms and percentages, the Prime Minister is trying to persuade a broke public that deposits from borrowed money and cashed-in fixed deposits reflect confidence in the Government to pull through.

 

Mr. Prime Minister, there are sensible people out there listening to you.  People who worked in banking before and after you.  People who operated businesses before you became suddenly successful.

And they know better than to be fooled by your interpretations.

Confidence is at an all-time low. That is the reality of pensioners; of those whose moratorium at the banks have come to an end; and of all those who face disconnection by APUA.

 

 

Income/Taxes

 

Mr. Speaker, this Budget will be remembered for its accusations of tax-avoidance and its emphasis on tax-collection.

 

I don’t want to spend too much time on this, but it is instructive that, after abolishing income tax – which targetted only the higher-income earners – Government is now accusing those who “gain greater individual prosperity” of being tax cheats.

 

It is also ironic that the man who hammered the UPP for its efforts to collect taxes during the World Financial Crisis is now, as Finance Minister, threatening business people to shoulder their fair share.

 

It is also a fore-warning that this Administration considers the population under-taxed, and has announced its intention to increase taxes to no less than 20% of GDP.

 

Meanwhile, in his Budget Presentation, the Finance Minister declared, up front, that there would be no new taxes.  But then he went on to announce that the “Tourism Accommodation Levy (TAL)” will be implemented in 2021, the year in which all tourism accommodations are expected to take another hit.

 

He claims the levy will go toward the Climate Resilience and Development Fund.  But most Antiguans and Barbudans consider this a joke.  After all, they are aware of the Government’s continued disregard for the environment and all the breaches it has allowed, both on Antigua and Barbuda, in the name of “development.”

 

Meanwhile, those home-owners who are supplementing their income by way of Air BnB ventures must now decide whether to increase their room rates or decrease their profits in order to pay this TAL, the new tax on the block.

 

So, even as the Government talks about tourism rebounding, their only plan is to make it more expensive.  Not better.  Not bigger.  Not more diversified to meet the post-COVID expectations of a younger generation of tourist.  Only more expensive.

 

And before I leave this topic, Mr. Speaker, I must note that, once again, several hotel projects that date back three and four years are projected to start “this year.”

 

If these projects did not materialize before the current world crisis, when travel was unrestricted and profitable, what guarantee can the Government give that they will begin in this internationally depressed financial climate?  And if they do not get underway, then how will that affect this year’s economic projections?

 

On another note, Mr. Speaker:  The Prime Minister reports that, last year, “366 applications were received, representing a 22 percent decrease from the previous year. Nonetheless, the CIP generated $115.7 million in 2020.  We have set a target to double the number of applicants in 2021, and every effort will be made to achieve it.”

 

Will those efforts include the naked hawking of our passports as we saw in a recent video ad?

 

Mr. Speaker: The CIP Unit assured the public that the advertisement was not in keeping with its promotion standards, and that an investigation would be launched.  More than a month has passed, and yet the promised statement on the outcome of the investigation has not been delivered.

 

Is it because this ad is to become the new and lowered standard of promoting the CIP programme?

 

Supporting  Private-Sector Expansion

 

According to the Prime Minister, the “Entrepreneurial Development Program (EDP) continues to provide low-cost funding and technical assistance to locally owned businesses. Since the start of the program in 2019, our government has provided more than $2 million in loans to local entrepreneurs.”

 

Why so little when so many ambitious young people are trying, in vain, to get financial assistance, Mr. Speaker?  Is it that persons were turned down because the EDP – much like the Prime Minister’s Scholarship Programme – ran out of money since 2019? Or is that the fund is accessible only by a select few?

 

If the Government is serious about helping people in a fair and non-partisan way, then I would be happy to direct some bright and hard-working youngsters to the program.

 

The Government says it is offering duty-free concessions on equipment and supplies, micro-business loans for start-ups, as well as the credit guarantee that the UPP has long been recommending.

 

And, again, in a community that has been hard hit by the decline in the tourism sector, we would certainly welcome such help.  So I am going to actively investigate and promote this programme and report to this House on the applicants’ success.

 

 

Agriculture & Housing

 

Mr. Speaker, have you heard of, or seen, any study conducted on the housing needs of the citizens and residents of these two islands?  I have not, and I am not aware that any Opposition Parliamentarian has seen one.

 

I ask this, Sir, because I want to know what data inform the numbers, the locations, and the prices of the houses the Government says it intends to build – especially at a time when such a high percentage of the workforce is unable to afford food, nevermind a mortgage.

 

Over the past seven years, the construction sector has been hijacked by this Administration.  It has reduced once-prosperous contractors to day-workers, many of them at rates below the industry standard.

 

Over this time, too, millions and millions of dollars have been “burned” on a public-sector venture called National Housing & Urban Development Company.  And, yet, no national can tell you anything about the finances of this outfit, since no public accounting has ever been given.

 

So when we hear of over 900 parcels of land being allocated – strictly with Government Ministers’ approval, of course – I have to wonder exactly who will be getting these properties and who will be constructing them.

 

I am not going to pretend, Mr. Speaker, that I am not uneasy.  A mega construction company from China has been given permission to set up its regional headquarters here.  And I don’t believe in coincidences.

 

You see, while construction is accepted as a driver of the economy, no one is quite sure who is in the driver’s seat here – because the Budget Presentation is very, very vague about who will be building most of the 629 homes it refers to.

 

I caution this Administration that, in this economic depression, such prime opportunities must be given to local contractors and suppliers.  That they must not be shut out by cheap imported labour and building supplies, nor by a foreign Government, nor Ministers seeking yet another grab at “creative enrichment.”

 

There is absolutely no way that this Representative, or the United Progressive Party, will support any exclusion.  In fact, I will be happy to lead the charge in opposing any such intention by this Administration.

 

I also want the Minister of Lands and Housing, and the Minister of Agriculture, to tell this Nation what consultations have been held with the farmers and the communities in which these developments are to take place.

 

At a time when Agriculture and food security should be at the top of our national priorities, we need to know how serious this Government is about them.

 

Since this Administration already knows that 90% of what we consume is imported, we want the assurance that this allocation of lands is not going to make us even more dependent on the outside world for food.

 

We want to know, as well, which farmers, if any, will have an opportunity to become producers in what is expected to be a lucrative market for medicinal cannabis.  Whether those who have been growing the herb for decades will be shut out by this Administration, and another generation will be condemned to poverty.

 

 

Social Security/Medical Benefits

 

Finally, Mr. Speaker, I wish to say something about Social Security:

 

I will not bite my tongue to describe the statements about the Government’s contributions as “the ultimate hypocrisy.”

 

It is no secret that, for 28 years, two Antigua Labour Party Administrations withheld Government’s contributions from the Scheme.  And it has never been denied that, during that time, millions of dollars were borrowed or taken from the Scheme.

 

It is also a fact that, in 2004, the United Progressive Party inherited a government that was financially strapped; and it is another fact that both the Stanford crisis and the World Economic Crisis hit us in the first term of our Administration.

 

And, yet, Mr. Speaker, as soon as we were financially able, we began contributing to Social Security and maintained our contributions through the financial crisis.  We put in more, in 10 years, than the ALP Administrations had put in during the previous 28 years.  And our best year for revenue collection netted us only $602 million.

 

Now, here comes this Gaston Browne Administration, which, even during this pandemic, expects to collect $872.5 million, including more than $200 million from the CIP.

 

And it has the nerve to criticize the UPP, as well as the pensioners protesting late payments, and to talk about paying in “more than its required contributions.”

 

If that isn’t the lowest form of hypocrisy, I don’t know what is.  If it isn’t the lowest form of dishonesty, I don’t know what is.  If it is not the Government’s obligation to make up the shortfall, after all it took from the Scheme, I don’t whose duty it is.

 

Mr. Speaker, you are a pensioner, among at least four other pensioners in this House; and you KNOW that Social Security pensions have been late and lagging long before last March, when the pandemic began to affect the economy.

 

And in spite of those who lie in here – whether by speech or by their silence – the pensioners out there know the truth!

 

And, just in passing, I will add here that if the Medical Benefits Scheme had not been well run and high-performing under the UPP, then this Administration would not have had access to the millions it removed from the MBS as soon as it took office.

 

And it is instructive to note that, despite all the income and growth that the Prime Minister has boasted about these past seven years, none of that money has been repaid to the Medical Benefits fund.

 

Instead, he was happy to advise this House, not too long ago, that the money was a “grant” from the Scheme and required no repayment.

 

Again, I will call it what it is: HYPOCRISY!

 

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30 COMMENTS

  1. Holy… You’re the Opposition so you have to be opposite to everything? I thought you would say something more practical about Covid-19 which is the definite priority for the people, but you only used Covid-19 to attack the government… Everything you do is for politics. What a disappointment… God bless Antigua and Barbuda.

  2. Jamale Pringle when are you going to learn how to understand the BUDGET that was presented and stop reading what Gisel Isaac and Harold Lovell write for you to read in Parliament. It is a burning shame that you must stuck your head in your IPAD and did take a breath. Once again you will never learn.VERY VERY PRESENTATION. You have NOT developed. Very shameful.

    • @RUPERT “LABOR PARTY” MANN:
      What is in the Budget not to understand? The Budget is as empty.As the Churches are at this time of Covid-19.A youngster in a kindergarten class.Could go through this Budget and find absolutely nothing in it.

  3. The Prime Minister lives in Antigua and Barbuda.However, he does not live in the same Antigua and Barbuda as most of us.Once upon a time he understood the plight of the poor.Because he was himself poor.Then like a
    “Miracle Cure” he became rich.Then he forgot from whence he came.I wish nothing but the best for my Country of Birth.Let us go back to the days when we loved our neighbors.Do not let those Politicians divide us into a despair of hatred.Gaston Browne is now rubbing shoulders with the 1 percenters. He would do most anything to keep it that way.At the expenses of you the voters.In other words to heck with you,the Electorates.

  4. Some understand the budget way better than him and their vanalysis says otherwise . You’re so proud of Gaston . He doesn’t do anything for for political , personal gain or favor ? If somebody wrote for it him may i suggest it was damn well written .

  5. That presentation by Mr Pringle is a down right embarassment. Jeez even a 4th grader could do a better job. I’m sure his fellow party members were at home laughing their butts off at that dribble. Mr Pringle fire your team and get someone who can train you in public speaking. UPP if you are serious about running this country then do better than that mess today.

  6. @RUPERT MANN
    Rupert you took the words out of my mouth. Gisel Isaac and Harold Lovell are writing for Pringle and He cannot present it because He does NOT understand what the HELL He is reading. I wonder when UPP will stop making a PUPPET of PRINGLE. Antigua and Barbuda don’t have an OPPOSITION.

    • How about you DO NOT understand when Gaston is only fooling you when he talks millions and billions and trillions dollars of investments coming to Antigua and Barbuda.
      EVERY DAY IS ALL FOOLS DAY FOR HIM.
      THE BIGGER THE AMOUNT THE MORE THE PEOPLE WILL BELIEVE.

    • Could all of you Labor Party supporters. Tell the Pensioners when would Social Security be paying their pensions for February,2021.After all today is the 2/8/2021 and still nothing.

  7. Why Charles Tabor don’t help Pringle in communicating in Parliament ? Pringle performance in Parliament will not help UPP in the next election. Too many Persons are laughing everytime this Guy.opens His mouth in Parliament.

  8. Per caci…per per caci….perk cipi…per capita…sorry sorry. Really. A man criticising a government and cant pronounce one the most basic of words in explaining an economy!

  9. I DONT KNOW WHO NEEDS TO HEAR THIS!!

    To news reporters giving interviews, to people in parliament and anyone being interviewed!

    YOU DON’T NEED TO REMOVE YOUR MASK TO BE HEARD AND UNDERSTOOD!

  10. And that’s why Antigua will remain this way for a while longer. Many persons in society have problems with public speaking it doesn’t mean that they are dunces. Instead of tearing down Pringle we should focus on the real issues at hand. Pringle can receive help on public speaking but a lot of you need help with understanding the concept that all horses don’t run alike! The truth is, I don’t hear the ordinary lay man criticizing Pringle…only the snobbish “educated” people. Come on allow the guy to blossom in his own way. At least, he has people in his party that can guide and write for him and that has to be a lot better than having a narcissistic leader.

  11. Dictator and traitor Gaston can lie to us all he wants but no one can deny what is happening to our country.

    His son can break all the protocols with no consequences.

    Nigel Christian has been murdered and it is obvious that members of this govt are involved.

    Dictator and Traitor Gaston more than likely has not paid a cent on taxes as well as his fellow cronies and family so it’s no surprise our country is in the current state.

    Go ahead on continue voting for this Dictator and Traitor as well as the rest of his band of Traitors.

  12. Budget 2013 delivered by Harold Lovell

    “Madam Speaker
    Recurrent expenditure for fiscal year 2013 is estimated at $786,992,836 while recurrent
    revenue is estimated at $757,877,659. ..”

    Yet according to this dullard Pringle

    “And our best year for revenue collection netted us only $602 million.

    Now, here comes this Gaston Browne Administration, which, even during this pandemic, expects to collect $872.5 million, including more than $200 million from the CIP.


    This simply means revenues excluding CIP would be about 672.5 million, some 100 million less than what Lovell budgeted for in 2013

    • You have the actual for 2021? Does Pringle? You telling me HL was short some 157 million of his 757 million projection? A 20% miss? Yet he wants to be PM? We had no global recession in 2013 hence what is his excuse? Recall a 3% GDP growth in 2012. 2013 was a dismal 1%. What happen to cause hum to underperform, hence run the ship on the rocks? In his 2014 budget presentation, he pushed for a 702,445,985 (85% = 597079087.25) in recurrent revenue, he claimed this was 15% more of the actual for 2013. Again when you exclude CIP projection for 2021 we talking less than what Lovell pushed for in 2013 and 2014. Anyway our GDP in 2013 was almost a billion less hence its realistic to expect better performance this year vs 2013 especially since we clearly had a driver who did not know how to drive.

      • Where is the PM getting the money to run the country? From the Chinese? And what collateral is he giving. Antiguan lands except his farms?

  13. Sigh . . .
    Jamal Pringle it look like dem set you up fu fail. Where is your PAID RESEARCH OFFICER?? No help from Shawn Nicholas who is skilled in communication and public relations? How about Pearl Quinn the anti-CCJ champion? What about iShorna?

  14. Mr. Pringle would have been better served if he had actually debated, rather than read a prepared speech by the party hierarchy.
    If Harold, Giselle and Pearl are so bright, let them win a seat and sit in the house of representatives.

  15. Harold, Giselle and Pearl are not winners because they are not thieves are gangsters like those who are in government now

    • Two snobbish females with the latter taking the crown hands down!!! How on earth can ordinary pickyhead people even consider her to be their representative.

      • Gaston and his government certainly have made a fool of you. Do they really care about picky head poor people. Sure give them a turkey and ham for Christmas and waive electricity for a couple of months for those poor people who have electricity. Let the picky head people continue to vote for the rich elite that are the labour ministers while a lot of them have to walk in dirty water when it rains because of lack of infrastructure.
        St Kitts was behind Antigua a few years ago and they are well ahead of Antigua today. They have educated leadership and not a pretender to the throne.

        • lol…wasnt it the same tactic UPP tried last christmas?

          Ordinary pickhead ladies like me will certainly ensure she will not see the light of day in Parliament.

  16. “…moratorium at the banks have CAME to an end…” What can go so while verbalizing your written speech Mr Pringle”? This man is soo dunce that the basics of grammar he does not understand. How can we put jokers like Pringle et al to command a billion dollar economy?

  17. We are all human and there will be a time in our life that we will come across words in our vocabulary that will cause us to stutter to pronounce. The writer of the speech should have him practice a few times and if he stutter with any words continuously replace it with another synonyms that has/have similar meaning.

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