The United Progressive Party today condemned Prime Minister Gaston Browne for failing to take the necessary steps to upgrade Antigua and Barbuda’s business process outsourcing sector and protect the livelihood of hundreds of households.
According to the UPP, His recent comments on Pointe FM claiming that “call center jobs cannot be the reality,” prove his failure to understand the full potential of the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry.
The party said in a release that there are currently many higher paying and more secure jobs available within the 110 US billion dollar global BPO industry. These include back office medical recordkeeping, accounting, legal work and a plethora of information technology jobs. Mature BPO countries like India and the Philippines have already aggressively diversified their local industries in that direction, creating a viable template for countries like Antigua and Barbuda to follow.
The UPP views the existing call centers as an important step in the creation of higher value employment, higher productivity and future local investment in an upgraded BPO sector.
It said recognizing the vision and immense opportunities, the UPP administration tasked the Antigua & Barbuda Investment Authority (ABIA) with developing a pathway to diversify and upgrade the local BPO industry to provide higher paying, more resilient jobs. Naturally, these more resilient careers also have higher training requirements. Under the UPP, strategic planning was underway to attract higher value, less cost-sensitive outsourcing investors. This also included the upgrading of the skills of current industry workers.
After coming to power, however, the ABLP totally abandoned these strategic plans when it gutted the ABIA for spurious political reasons,” the UPP release said.
“It is regrettable that PM Browne has a bailout desperation mindset, as opposed to long term viable development strategies. His recent disparaging comments are the clearest indication yet, that he is unwilling to invest in the training and development required to preserve and grow the outsourcing sector. Gaston Browne has no plan to protect the employment of hundreds of young Antiguans and Barbudans. He continues on a path of desperation with his failed ‘government by headlines’ strategy that continues to destroy the economy of our country,” says UPP Political Leader, Harold Lovell.
The UPP is calling for the immediate restoration of the ABIA to its pre-2014 fully functional state. Re-activating the strategic planning and facilitation, abandoned since the start of the current ABLP administration, would be a practical first step towards upgrading and future-proofing the outsourcing sector. ABIA participation will also serve to better preserve remaining jobs, by responding to the needs of local investors in a more strategic and timely manner.
The party stated that PM Browne’s hopeless stance on this industry sends a “closed for business” message to both current local operators and future potential investors. The UPP is highly concerned about the viability of the remaining major employers in the outsourcing sector under the ABLP administration.
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