‘We don’t have the luxury of some countries to remain closed for two, three, four months’ – PM Defends Relaxing of COVID-19 Measures

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Prime Minister Gaston Browne has warned of the dire economic consequences that could follow if  Antigua and Barbuda remains closed for an extended period of time.

Already Browne says the country’s revenue has dropped by over 70 percent in the last month. He has also said the the government will now resort to borrowing to pay salaries and wages in the public service. Out of the 85 million projected, Browne predicts that Antigua and Barbuda will only be able to collect 25 million.

Browne who is also finance minister said ‘The longer we continue to be in a position of lock-down, the more consequential the economic fall out will be.”

Speaking on radio over the weekend, the country’s leader said “there are many people who are trying to get back to work and who are trying to start back their little small business so they can survive.”

He said even though there are a plethora of social programmes in place, “our people have their pride, they want to work, they want to generate their own money, they don’t want no food package from the government or from private organisations.”

Browne told radio listeners that  there has to be a balance between the health situation and the economy.

“So having stabilized the health situation. Having been literally in a good place and not to become complacent, we now have to look towards relaxing restrictions in order to allow for a systematic opening of businesses and ultimately, the full opening of the country’s economy,” the Prime Minister said.

“And let me make the point here too, we don’t have the luxury of some countries to remain closed for two, three, four months.

“If we were to lock down this country for six months of nine months or more as some people would have it, it would be economic carnage in the country,” Browne warned.

He said, “…we have to make sure we do not, under one hand, resolve the health situation and then we do not pay any attention to the country’s economy and allow it to go into free fall.”

The prime minister is also warning that if the country remains on lock down mode retrenchment of public servants could become a reality.

“We are trying our best not to retrench public servants, trying our best not to put them on days, we are trying our best not to lay them off, but clearly if we keep the country in a state of lock-down we will have no choice,” he said.

Browne is hitting back at critics who are “second guessing us because we started to relax some of the restrictions, they must think again.”

He said United Progressive Party leader Harold Lovell is out of touch “because if he stays home all day and masturbates intellectually he still gets his 13 thousand.”

 

72 COMMENTS

  1. When those critics had the shoe on to find solutions to resolve the country’s dilemma during the recession of 2008, those very same critics sent out a clarion call to each citizen & resident of this country to band our bellies and try to ride out the storm all because they were very limited with answers to solve the crisis.
    It is now surprising to see that those very same critics are now ” crisis experts ” and hencehave all the solutions & answers to resolve a crisis of this magnitude….
    The opposition needs to realize that people’s health and wellbeing are not something to play with, neither should such be administrated by guess work.
    Each citizen’s health & wellbeing is of paramount concern to this present administration. The time is now where everyone should be sailing on the same ship, collaborating and strategizing in solidarity in order to keep the ship of Antigua & Barbuda afloat…… There is nothing wrong to oppose or criticize what this present administration is doing, but for the good of the country and our health, but let your criticism be realistic and be followed by constructive logical suggestions so they can benefit all of us at this time, The PM and his crew is doing a great job so far, they dont wish for adverse obstacles to get in the way to cause this ship to sink

  2. Did the PM really say Lovell sits at home all day and “masturbates intellectually”??? Wow! Also, is Lovell really being paid “$13,000”? Who is paying that, and for what???? Please clarify both points. My head can’t take so much pressure.

    • That is called a parliamentarian pension for having served 2 terms in parliament. Yes those who un for office do it for two reasons and one is to secure a state pension.

      • If people constantly wear mask and adhere to social distancing, I think they should allow more businesses to open. Barbers can meet their clients on a one and one basis, restaurants can allow their customers to order via whatsapp and then deliver directly to them.The government should give guidelines on how every category of business should operate, example if you own a restaurant you can only do deliver. Every business must have a pass to say that they are safe to operate issue by the inland revenue department.

      • @ From the Sideline
        I guess that is why Gaston with all his millions got his wife to enter politics. Just think, she has nothing to offer the country and after two terms she can quit and take the people’s money for the rest of her life. Pure greed.
        You will say she got the most votes. Many of the people in her constituency were not born in Antigua and poor people who are looking for handouts. Same like a lot of the people in Point.
        Gaston only thinks about Gaston and his family and many people are too foolish to notice.

    • @Conrad:
      Are you from Antigua and Barbuda? If so,learn about your country first and what goes on there.Not what goes on any where else first.

    • Lester Bird received more than that monthly for pension and social security even before he retired from parliament. The law is once you served two term in Parliament, your received your full pension. Once your monthly contributions to Social Security is big, when you reach retirement age, your payment will be high. It would be pension plus social security benefits.

      • The Crass uneducated use of words befits someone like GB!! What an absolute offensive way to refer to, only a fellow politician, but a leader of the opposition..

    • Mr PM aka world boss a you in charge you are doing great u an your minister i know you will come with a balance plan for the country to move forward this Thursday u know your country people well you are rite i am a Jamaican an i can tell the world the people of antigua ana Barbuda does like hand out work for what they that there believe

  3. Hope the leader’s of Antigua and Barbuda learn from this. Red,Blue,orange,Green and any other color I may have not mentioned please put something aside for rainy days. I find it hard to believe that after all the taxes collected and CIP sales that two months the economic power house falling over. St kitts who is only on tourism like us, and I say only cause they don’t set cane fields on fire anymore is doing better. From Lester Bird- Baldwin Spencer- Gaston Browne this country has been going down hill. The only reason why laws are enforced now is because there’s no place on earth the powers to be can go without running into COVID-19. Stop playing with peoples lives and run the country like you run the financial part of you and your family lives

    • SKN is doing well or better than us? What measure are you using? Guy it is ANU that PAHO has labelled more prepared to deal with COVID. Why because we have the best hospital in the OECS region and also the decision to build the separate area for COVID patient. Yes you may wish to argue the latter is taking too long, but clearly it would be ready long before SKN can start even constructing or seriously retrofiring a similar building. Its also ANU which will begin local testing long before SKN. This is their former PM a doctor by profession:, on April 2nd

      ” We must ensure that we have enough nurses, doctors with the specialist skills required to save lives. Isolation wards will need to be established to treat the sick and those who may be critically ill. If it is possible to establish this away from the general population of the J N France General Hospital (JNF), this would be ideal.”

  4. Mr PM I applaud you in your efforts to keep the economy a float though minimal given the health challenges. Don’t let those covid Einsteins as you have aptly termed them derail your plans. Many of them calling for shutdown are still looking to goverment for assistance. Where do they expect monies to come from to finance such projects whether partially or wholly. I know you are not thin skinned and can easily pierce through to the veil of what is just political argument to be not bothered.Stay on track….we will be victorious.

    • I miss what is happening here, so the Economic Power house doesn’t have any money to sustain it citizens, it take Covid-19 to unveil what we already know, little St Kitts is basting in glory because of CIP, so where our CIP money goes in the pocket. Just Saying. People wake up, are you sleeping. Since before Covid-19 know money 💰 in the country, am banging on treasury’s doors for so long and there is no money. You people or so blinded believing everything that those politician feeds you, wake and analyze for yourself, stop being so blinded and dumbfounded.

  5. Lovell is a failure. While he speaks about locking down he is up and about going about his business. Guess he is.eagerly looking for stores to spend some of that 13K he gets.

    • WHO is paying Lovell 13k? Doesn’t he have a job? He’s a failure at politics and belongs to another time, a dark page in our history. Surely no one is paying this dude 13k. Why? The official Leader of the Opposition is Jamal Pringle. We want to hear from the Leader JAmal Pringle.

  6. Mr. Brown,

    Please recall the office you hold, Jack. The world is watching you.

    The nation can only trust that your government will make the right decisions to get the economy back up and running, while still maintaining the health of the nation.

    We’ve made progress in containing the spread of the disease, and we can’t go back. Our heath system can’t support an outbreak.

    All the best to you and my country men, and all please stay safe

  7. This shouldn’t be a problem Mr PM. Antigua and Barbuda economy has grown so much over the last five years according you during your budget speech earlier this year, so why are u complaining when you haven’t given any of your beloved citizen any financial assistance since this worldwide pandemic. You talk a big game but I now see you’re all talk Mr PM. Antigua and Barbuda economy is the so called number 1 economy in the OECS and u can help your citizen in this crisis, shame on you Gaston Browne aka bruk boss.

    • I agree with you that the alleged # 1 economy in the OECS is the only one that cannot provide its population with a form of unemployment payments. Social Security in the other islands are paying people monthly sums for 3 months. Mark my word. The Government will bring back Income Tax before the end of the year. Bruk Boss for real. ECONOMIC POWERHOUSE tun ECONOMIC OUTHOUSE!!

      • In those said islands don’t the contributors pay something called unemployment insurance? Lets just hope you will applaud rather than complain when we make that move

  8. Oh my! What a failed experiment on the people of Antigua & Barbuda. This idiot three months ago was telling his stupid supporters that A&B has growth better than USA, Canada and the entire Caribbean, we are a economic powerhouse. In the matter of weeks the country move from an economic powerhouse to a economic poorhouse. The sad thing about all this we have a juvenile in the seat as PM, This idiot choosing the economy over people lives. In a short two months everything on A&B is the fault of coronavirus. Let me remind the people of the CIP monies he bragged about over 2 billion and counting ” wha de money gorn” …..in the offshored account? Hmmm! Follow the money people. “All is clouded by desire.” What a book a must read people.

    • Imagine one could have spent most of their lives in America, the land of opportunities and the most they can do upon returning is to be critical. Your night has already been lost there is no hope for you move on or move back and leave Antigua.

    • So if we have to borrow millions to pay salaries to the public sector I think that a special tax should be created and a small percentage payed them since they are the ones who benefits the most in times like this! Private sector gets nothing.

    • @ Knight in Shining Armour:
      Thousands of us, Nationals of Antigua and Barbuda living in United States have received our stimulus.It was so good to wake up one morning and see $1200 and $2400 respectively in your accounts.Could you ask your Buddy,Gaston.When would the poor people inna Antigua and Barbuda a get them stimulus.Because dee money belang too dee people and dem not to hee.

        • Just Saying:

          It was not a Government handout.I have paid taxes in this country for over 4 decades.So the money I got is my money.Not a darn handout.

    • Guy isn’t it time you stop making up lies? Among them your false assertion that government itself got 2 billion from CIP. The statement a few years ago was CIP has generated a billion dollars in economic activity. Up to mid 2019, CIP received 2180 applications. Even if you wrongly assume all of those applicants are successful (they are not) and they were all NDF applications, @100K usd per app, that’s about half a billion EC. Now subtract the agent commission which ranges between 10 to 25% based on volume. If government received as revenue all economic activity (instead of a little less than 20%), there would be no fiscal issue. Then again there would be no private sector.

  9. I agree with the PM that we should get the economy restarted. My problem though, is u can’t do this by mouthing off on talk radio, u hv to come up with a plan through proper consultation with your advisers (not just max hurst or petra) and other stakeholders u know with ability and brains to help u steer this country back to some semblance of normalcy. This could include Harold Lovell if u can be be an adult for minute and enough with the kindergarten name calling already… This consultation should have already taken place but all is not lost as yet.

    • No, it doesn’t have to include Harold Lovell, but it should include the legal and official Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, Jamal Jamal. The other guy holds NO political office in this country. It’s as simple as that. Common sense say so.

      • CErmle..So only politicians with office can get us thru this? 🙄🙄🙄 Jesus take the wheel.. my hope for my country is dying a fast death becus of our immature electorate….

  10. The minister has done a great job controlling the spread. Even much better then the u s a . He has shown great leadership. Why to go 👍

  11. Well it’s obvious that Antigua and Barbuda is not the economic powerhouse as has been boasted about for the past couple years. I guess it’s really St. Kitts and Nevis. And what the hell is Harold Lovell getting $13K a month for?

    • @Johnny you’re so right. A lot of people in Antigua and Barbuda forgot about that law which was put there by Lester Bird or Papa Bird. I guess Gaston need to educate the people what the $13k represent instead of just saying that Lovell get that amount monthly. Now I know that most Antiguans especially can’t think for themselves…it is what Gaston says they run with. There are other former and present government ministers who are receiving more than that monthly once they had/have served two term in Parliament and have reach pension age.

  12. But he a say open up but he not even going to his own radio station. He and his family safe while putting others at risk

  13. All over the world the question of re-opening the economy is taking place. Some countries have already taking little steps. Germany is one such country. These are certainly not easy decisions to make. Trump is getting big push back from his governors. But he also realize that this cannot go on for much longer or you can have an economic meltdown. And if the USA falls the entire world falls.
    I do not envy the PM at all in these times. There is not playbook that you can follow. Yes it is a big risk to take. But the people need to take responsibility as well and take this social distancing very serious and a new way of life.
    No more handshake. No hugging in greeting each others. Just a polite bow or peace sign is enough.
    God bless us all in these trying times.

  14. Mr. PM. I think now is the time to bring the Unions at the table and have frank discussions as to the way forward. I mean in 2008 I had to make the hard decision with the board and brought the staff in to buy into two decisions. One was to take a temporary pay cut to allow the company to survive the cashflow deficits, and the other was lay-offs. They were solidaire enough to care about one another and decided to take a 20% pay cut for six months. And it paid off. I would suggest going back to the negotiating table with the unions and make a similar offer. One cannot expect to get paid the same salary for perhaps not even doing half the work as normal. And we have seen public servants in the past go for months not being paid. If there is not enough money to go around everyone will have to do with less until such time when things get better. And this is not a part payment of salary. No liability should be accruing. A simple pay cut for the time being.

  15. Lovell is getting what the system allows.You Gaston Browne must be making 2 and a half times that now.And I am not including your wife’s salary as Minister of the peoples Lands.I have worked for two of the larger Corporations for over 42 years combined.Now I am collecting Social Security plus 2 pensions monthly.If I were to move back to Antigua and transferred those to my account in Antigua monthly.They would add up to EC$189,000 per year.So would be my fault for getting such a good pensions income monthly.By the way I worked for those pensions.Not one damn thing was given to me.So if you do not wish for politicians to get such a hefty pension.For working such a small amount of years.CHANGED THE DARN RULES TO REFLECT THAT.THE POWERS ARE IN YOUR ADMINISTRATION HANDS.So do something about it now or else shut to heck up.LOUD MOUTHED ONE.

  16. We haven’t even start testing and this man a think about money over people life. He should wait until we start to test and see what the results look like before talking about opening up the country. When people start to drop dead like flies, he think all the money can bring the people back.
    Other countries are turning to their reserves, are he telling us that Antigua and Barbuda don’t have reserve?
    With this economic powerhouse he keep bragging about, where is it Mr. PM?
    This government collect more revenue than any other government ever hold power in Antigua and Barbuda. Antigua and Barbuda is not the only country that have debt to pay, so na tell me that they use all our revenue paying debt, salaries and wages. Because I don’t see no other area in the country especially where the CIP have spent. Lord Jesus help us.

  17. But still, who are we to hold accountable for not having the “luxury”? They went into office and met millions of dollars in statutory corporations, that could be helping to sustain us in these time, so he should be ashamed to state the obvious, that we are a broke country, since it’s because of him and his gov’t 🙄

  18. There is no sensible balance between good health and money.

    With good health money can be a consequence, but with poor health money has no value.

    If you are on your death bed with billions of dollars on the bank and you are offered good health in exchange for your wealth what will you do? Everybody knows what is important to them it is a personal decision.

    Open the economy great idea, but what will that economy look like? The only new money circulating will be borrowed money, savings will diminish, no new jobs will be created unless 20,000 unemployed, join the government’s job program.

    What is needed is a new budget estimate. Overhaul the education system, and remodel the Five
    Island Campus immediately. There is no need to memorize formulas, principles, and equations in this era, the information is a click away.

    The Five Island Campus must be dedicated to IT. Take a page out of Cuba’s book and train the population in IT services at all levels from development to manufacturing. Export these services and increase remittances.

    Tourism is not an industry been telling you that for years finally the proof is on the table. Tourism provides cash velocity. The country has no control over the factors of tourism.

  19. 2020 vision a new Antigua and Barbuda

    1 Energy 100% renewable across Antigua and Barbuda.
    2 All privately owned vehicles must use renewable energy.
    3 All streets named and houses numbered.
    4 Create a national ID system.
    5 Minimum wage is pegged to inflation. Six hours work day.
    6 Populate the country with thousands of fruit trees. Access to fruits must be free.
    7 A new constitution.
    8 Shift in dietary norms to locally produced food. No fast food shops.
    9 Extremely harsh prison sentences.

  20. The Prime Minister Gaston Brown has shown exemplary leadership, with Calculated Economic Risk on a late lock down, moderated with stringent containment measures to prevent the spread of Covid19 virus…that did not overly deprive citizens of too much Liberty.

    The PM must be fearless in defense of his overall strategic response to this Pandemic, and continue to bring the country back into functionality, with the very astute steps he has been taking each week. I am very impressed with PM Brown’s narrative…his unambiguous explanation of both economic dilemma faced by the country, and the tempered opening with strict observation for any reversal of the country’s good fortunes in the low impact of Covid19 outbreak there, and associated deaths.

    Please support your Prime Minister in his unenviable position to stabilize the Country…Continue to practice Social Distancing, and adhere to all the very Humanistic Guidelines the PM institutes each week.

  21. The hotels have been opened before this coronavirus pandemic happened and the country broke. So if the country open back up, hotels start fill up again, the country are go still broke.
    Mr. PM, how come we don’t have any reserve like our other Caribbean brothers and sisters next door to tap into now we have a world crisis. Where the money gone???

  22. This PM is a national embarrassment! The man has no class! If the economy can’t sustain a two month shock, whose fault is that Mr. PM? How long have you been collecting your government handout for sitting in parliament and doing nothing? The ALP should have diversified the economy 30 years ago instead of blindly continuing on this suicide mission called tourism.

    • U sound like a damn ass. This is a worldwide pandemic you think is Antigua economy alone suffering. You think it is Antigua alone relies on Tourisum. Maybe people like you would be happy to see people turn back into huskters.

      • ………….. Why do people so misunderstand the views expressed by others. Many of the other countries in the OECS also depend on tourism heavily and as a consequence they too are suffering from the covid 19 pandemic. The fundamental point to grasp, however, is that many of the OECS countries are granting relief to their citizens (other than a governing political party making selective distribution of food packages) despite facing the impact of the same covid 19 pandemic. The million dollar question is why can’t the government of Antigua and Barbuda do likewise.

        • Why don’t u just hush ya ass and go and pratice law. Ya always want dip in lakka one dip ta dip. Ya always have someting to oppose about. If you plannjng to run for a political office I suggeest you keep your day job cause no way anyone would vote for an ass like you

        • And you are a conceited UPP ass. Last time I checked the UPP heavily relied on the suicide mission called tourisum in them 10 years of power. Are you UPP supports so bitter espically them mouth piece name Charlesworth Tabor.

  23. Because the government cannot afford to provide a stimulus package to it’s citizens doesn’t mean the economy wasn’t doing good before. No one forecast this virus and some of you are the same ones who rely on the government to provide the necessary, water, roads, electricity, education, building maintenance, pay for loans as a continuous government and salaries for government employees and then have left overs? for those who brag that they receive stimulus in the US….. Do you know where the US government got that money which was given to the citizens? It’s BORROWED money! It’s also known as debt So too was the President of the USA stating that the US have seen the best economy in history yet when the time came to curtail movements they had to BORROW funds to help it citizens. Some ah unnu too damn braggadocio! May the PM use wisdom, knowledge and good judgement to lead during this time when the country needs it most. Ah we de regular citizenry will feel the PINCH more than the Politicians (of which the PM is included) along with those aspiring to be politicians (cronies).

    • Well somebody has common sense here and not political blinders on!! I must applude you @Alex what you said makes the most sense. Some people love throwing around the word stimulus package and don’t know what it really is.

  24. ALEX what you have stated here is a simple contradiction in terms. So if the economy was doing so well what is preventing the government from rolling out a stimulus package like other OECS countries who perhaps were not doing as well. Have you forgotten that we are the economic powerhouse. It is the government’s duty to provide roads, water, education etc from our taxes. We are not begging for those services. Let’s just stick to roads and water are you satisfied with those services. We are not being overly critical of the government, but with all the revenues that passed through their hands we should be much better off. Good brief

    • One again Charlesworth Tabor do us all a favour and just STFU. God man it is 3 more years till next election. Jah man you up and down here campaning staright. No matter how much you and your party complain Antigua people done with you all now go retire and take Lovell and D. Gisel Issac with you.

      • @STFU
        You are darn f——. You should take your own advise and STFU. Only red koolaid drinkers like you should have an opinion, no matter how stupid it is?

  25. STFU are you responding for ALEX. He says the economy was doing good and all I ask is that if the economy was doing so good what is preventing the government from coming up with a stimulus package like even St. Kitts/Nevis. If that is your response to my post then you really need a lot of help in thinking clearly and perhaps you should be the one to STFU.

    • Im respinding to you Charlesworth Tabor.
      Why don’t you go do your job and be a LAWYER because if you are aspiring to be a politician then you sal ah rass Charlesworth Tabor cause the UPP is dead. They have been rejected over and over again and if it is clowns like you in the party I see another 30 years of ALP in power.

      • STFU it makes no sense you argue with a person like Tabor. He is a heartless man in the pity of hell. Just leave him alone cause one day KARMA is going to come for him and we will read about him on ANR.

  26. STFU and Karma is a …… Both of you would do much better and give a more sensible account of yourselves if you responded to the ideas and facts raised in someone’s post and simply stop cussing people. In other words, please address the message and stop addressing the messenger. I would advise both of you to listen to the last budget presentation of the Minister of Finance and then ask yourselves if this country was doing so well economically why can’t the government provide a proper relief package to assist the vulnerable citizens and small businesses in this country. Please in your response bring facts to the table and less senseless cussing.

    • If I were you Tabor I would not worry about respond to people but the Karma that is coming for you. I know when Miss Karma comes knocking I will read about here on this blog.

  27. Karma is a ….. I think you are so right I should not respond to the silliness that you and others post. Be happy Karma won’t be coming for you since you are Christ incarnate.

  28. Antigua is a very small country (108) square miles very beautiful . I have read all the comments to the guy Gaston Brown trying to reopen the country. Personally speaking I do not think its a good idea because of how this virus works , a few questions comes to my mind . Did Mr. Brown got testing going for all citizens? What if he opens up the country and then the hospital runs over what will he do? Stay home saves lives. The stimulus money in America was not borrowed.n

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