The United Progressive Party (UPP) expresses its grave disappointment and deep concerns having heard and read the Throne Speech delivered yesterday, January 15, 2021.
It is the political obligation of a sitting Administration to advise the Nation of its plans and programmes for any new year. But at a time of such economic and social insecurity, for the Government to do less – and appallingly less – is a clear abdication of duty.
After 50 minutes of listening to the Governor-General’s delivery, we, the Citizens and Residents, are none the wiser about where this Administration intends to take this country or how it intends for us to get there – if anywhere.
All we heard and read was a litany of praise for Ministers and Ministries whose performance in 2020 was sub-par by any objective yardstick. No apologies, no regrets, no empathy for the suffering, sacrifice or losses of the past year. No plans, no vision, no investment for the year ahead.
We agree that, on account of the pandemic, these are not normal times. But the challenges we face because of COVID-19 are not unique to us. Every country in the world has been forced to double down, to become creative, to expend greater efforts to keep their economies afloat and to meet the needs of all their people, in particular the socially and medically vulnerable.
Friday’s Throne Speech addressed none of the concerns of The People and met none of our expectations.
None! Not those of the business sector; the medical community; the Social Security pensioners; the under-employed or unemployed; the youth … no one.
Even as it acknowledges that our economic fortunes will not greatly improve until late 2021, perhaps, it appears that this Administration has given no thought to a stimulus for local businesses, or concessions for entrepreneurs, or expansion of the social programmes, or cushion for those in special circumstances.
For individuals and families in free-fall, migration is not even an option. We are all forced to stay here and tough it out. Surely, then, it is the role and duty of the Government to share with The People its mitigation strategies.
Given the absence of vision, plans, programmes or methodologies from the Government’s blueprint for 2021, the UPP must conclude that these simply do not exist.
We must imagine that the Government intends to make it up as it goes along – much as it did in the past six years, when we heard promises of investments that have never been realized; witnessed ground-breakings for projects that never got off the ground; and learned of land and money deals that benefitted Ministers and their associates, but never The People.
The UPP concludes, therefore, that the Antigua Labour Party Administration, under the leadership of Prime Minister Gaston Browne, is devoid of vision, ideas and strategies for taking our country forward, and that the Throne Speech is nothing but an admission of its bankruptcy.