Political analysts have labelled Prime Minister Gaston Browne’s vilification of the United States (US), the opposition and the free press in response to a damning US report as a crass over-reaction that was not in the national interest and likely to bring further consequences.
Between Thursday and Friday of last week, Browne used his platform in Parliament to lambaste the various parties after the US’ International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR) called the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) “among the most lax in the world”.
Speaking on the topic on The Big Issues yesterday Political Advisor Dr Isaac Newton said, “It is clear that his approach was extremely crass and crude, lacking in public finesse and public decorum, lacking in a sense of diplomacy and a sense of sophistication, and lacking an understanding of the international mood and that it is complex and requires nuances and grace.”
He argued that since Antigua & Barbuda “does not have strategic value nor economic power nor is it a military threat” blasting the US was a futile move that earned nothing but bad favour.
Political Analyst Peter Wickham said that “there has been an over-reaction” to the report which he said he did not characterise as being “so negative and in a sense”. He argued that the US exaggerates the conclusions it reaches in such documents.
“You would issue let’s say 300 passports and you have a problem with one and as a result of that the Americans bring down the gavel as if the whole programme is flawed,” he said.
Meanwhile, Member and former president of the Transparency Institute of Guyana Calvin Bernard has argued that the prime minister owes the public a thorough explanation as to why the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Citizenship by investment Unit (CIU) Chisanga Chekwe really resigned.
Browne blasted the CIU boss in Parliament for allegedly exorbitant spending on travel, wanting to exercise near exclusivity over the CIU revenues and an unwillingness to operate under ministerial directives. Browne also accused persons of giving false information to the US about the CIP.
Before last week the prime minster had refused to give reasons for the CEO’s resignation and Chekwe had refused to be interviewed on the matter.
Bernard said, “If you’re going to leave something as critical as that open and not address it with all the information available but it still remain in the public domain then you will leave the perception that there’s something untoward or off about the whole resignation.”
Bernard was part of the panel in addition to former honorary consul to New York Dr McChesney Emanuel who argued that the prime minister was wrong to “personalise” his response to the US.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)