‘We will rise like a phoenix from the ashes’ -PM


Prime Minister Gaston Browne has told an address to the nation that the welfare of all Antiguans & Barbudans was the uppermost consideration in reopening the economy during the covid-19 crisis.

He warned residents in a nationally televised address that unless the economy is reopened and every possible thing is done to rebuild it; the challenges we now confront will not be overcome any time soon.

“That is why we must not hesitate to act and to act now,” Browne told citizens and residents.

“That is why we need to put money in the pockets of our people, to get employment going, to bring bustle back to business and make the economy flourish again,” he added.

Browne said his administration “will not further undermine our country’s resilience and pawn our people’s fortunes by contracting large unsustainable debts, as the previous government did.  We will not do it.”

He recalled that, under the previous administration, over two Billion dollars in loans were borrowed, which not only pushed-up our debt to GDP ratio to 101%, as recorded by the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, “but  today remain like an albatross around our necks, with little sustaining benefit.”

Browne who is also finance minister said because of these excessive borrowings which brought only temporary cash flow relief, forty cents of every dollar collected in taxes are assigned to repay these debts.

He said the reaming 60 percent is used to cover salaries, wages and other personal emoluments.

Browne said the government has been systematically addressing these vulnerabilities, “by reducing our debt to GDP ratio from the 101% we inherited to 69 percent as at January 2020, and by promoting sustained and robust economic growth, which, unfortunately, has been abruptly paused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

He said the mismanagement of the previous administration resulted in high unemployment and poverty; their imposition of personal income tax, ABST and other tax measures; the crippling of small and medium sized businesses; and the collapse of the economy.

“Our Government cannot countenance a similar scenario of increased taxes, high unemployment, and poverty.

That is why we are moving assiduously to reopen and rebuild our economy to put our people back to work as soon as possible,” he said.

To this end, the Government has commenced recapitalising the Antigua & Barbuda Development Bank and expanding the Entrepreneurial Development Fund to support small and medium size businesses with concessional loan funding.

The government will also extend up to $50M in guarantees to the commercial banks, to support lending to businesses so as to maintain jobs in the private sector, during this challenging period.

Additionally, cash support will be provided to the vulnerable through the Board of Guardian, Petro Caribe, cash and food grant programmes operated by the Ministry of Social Transformation, Human Resource Development and the Blue Economy.

Browne said “we cannot contemplate firing public servants and burdening our people, by imposing high rates of tax in conditions where life is already hard.

“We will borrow on reasonable terms where we can for productive purposes but, first we must rebuild the elements of our economy that will allow us to earn revenues from which we can repay the debt incurred,” he said.

He also struck a note of optimism telling residents that “as a nation, will not perish; ultimately, we will rise like a phoenix from the ashes, and we shall flourish.We will not dismiss the destructive power of COVID-19, but we will not slink away from it, allowing the ravaging of our livelihoods and wellbeing to go unchecked.  We will certainly press with the advancement of the country’s economy. We will meet this enemy as we have met others before. We shall courageously, intelligently and responsibly, live and work with COVID, limiting its infection and containing it.”

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  1. Am just happy that Trump, Gaston and Putin came at the same time, because they’ll be removed from office around the same time, starting from November of this year

    • Trump going to be re-elected in November and ALP going to be re-elected in 2023. I said what I said!

        • Notes From A Native Son Of The Rock!

          “The colonized is elevated above his jungle status in proportion to his adoption of the mother country’s cultural standards.” ― Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks!

          Nuff Said!

          • I awoke the dungeon flamed with light.My chains fell off my heart set free.I rose went forth and followed Thee.RIP Franz Fanon.

  2. Yes we will Mr. Prime Minister. Let us all GIRD OUR LOINS AND JOIN THE BATTLE. Each Endeavouring All Achieving.

  3. I remembered YIDA ZANG saying that “we would rise from the ashes like the Phoenix”.Then I heard Quack at YIDA’S ground faking saying.Our Country would become the Economic Powerhouse of the Caribbean.The country he was referencing is Antigua.What really concerned me is the “OUR COUNTRY” part of his speech.Because he is Chinese.Antigua is not his “DAMN COUNTRY”.The next thing we could see are those Chinese using the whips on your backsides.Like they are doing in Kenya.By the way are all of those Chinese in Antigua regulated.Are they working legally?

  4. Prime Minister,Gaston Browne,The Moses,World Boss.Teflon Don.

    When are the Pensioners and Nurses going to be paid for May.I am quite sure you,your household and your Cabinet Members were all paid already for May.So why the poor people are the ones always left to hold the poo-poo sticks.Come on man.

  5. You don’t want to introduce PIT because you and your rich friends don’t want to pay any. Under the UPP, only people making over $3,000.00 per month paid taxes. And this is the majority of Antiguans. The next time you go begging other countries for money, remember that these governments raise money through taxation. Why should they give you their taxpayer’s money?
    As you said, half the revenue goes to servicing debt and the rest go to pay expenses. Where are you going to get the money to fix the roads, the water supply and maintenance of government assets. The infrastructure is in shambles. When you travel some places at night in Antigua you have to hold your nose how the place stinks. People is these communities can’t open their windows
    at night. A lot of communities don’t have proper drainage so a lof the sewage run off just back up causing a health hazard.
    PM, You should step out of your mansion and take a tour of some ghettoes in your wife’s riding, in Grays Farm and Cashew Hill, you probably know about Point, and tell me how in a so called economic power house like Antigua, people are living under such conditions.
    My suggestion to you is to tax the people and use the money to repair and build the infrastructure Antigua needs.

  6. Everybody knows politicians are liars, maybe not many Antiguans, who try to manipulate people like Trump. Gaston you know that the previous UPP government met a lot of debts on the books going back to the Papa Bird government. Papa Bird didn’t pay his debt and use to say they can’t take Antigua. Your government added to the debt even during a time when you talk about Antigua having exponential economic growth. UPP suffered through the economic turmoil of 2008. You now have your economic turmoil from the corona virus. Let’s see how you fare

  7. @ TAP LIE
    Did you listen to POINTE FM on Saturday 6th. June 2020 ? The Prime Minister showed proof of Harold Lovell BIG LIE. Prime Minister show in Black and White PROOF of the $2,000,000,000 ( TWO BILLION dollars DEBT ) . These are Proof and Harold Lovell keep Lying to Antiguans and Barbudans that He did Not barrowing the money. Harold Lovell BIG LIAR. UPP will NEVER see power in Antigua never again.

    • @Rupert Mann

      You and Gaston know that UPP did not borrow $2billion dollars. Tap lie. UPP built a new airport terminal. They completed Mount Saint John. They built a new treasury building. They built the new parliament building and the prime minister’s office. What labour built? Gaston has CIP money and
      still run up billions in debt. He has problems paying the current debt and he is talking about borrowing more for investments when some Antiguans don’t have food to eat. Maybe he should stay in power and pay off all the money he borrowed. Just wait until the Chinese loan for the deep water harbour comes due. I am sure they will take the port if they are not paid.
      When Antiguan people can’t take the hardships anymore, they will vote out the Labour Party, which they always do and expect UPP to clean up the mess with an empty treasury.

    • @Rupert Man
      We had VC bird for how many years? We had Lester Bird for how many years? All the other Caribbean islands call Antigua bird island. As long as labour is in power Antigua will remain a dirty country full of backward people. Labour doesn’t build anything, they only know how thief and get rich. Them and their clique. Hope the next generation will have more sense.

  8. Wonder where the money is coming from to recapitalize Antigua and Barbuda Development Bank and expand the Entrepreneurial Fund. Did you get another loan or do you have some of the people’s money hidden some where? You recapitalize the ABD bank before. Where did the money go.

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