CIP and outstanding taxes to pay ALORICA workers hired by gov’t

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Chief of Staff, Lionel “Max” Hurst, has disclosed that the government intends to use funds from the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) and taxes recovered by the government to finance the hiring of 100 former ALORICA workers.
“We anticipate using some of the resources from the Citizenship by Investment Programme as well as some of the additional taxes that we intend to collect by being more vigilant in collecting government taxes,” Hurst proclaimed in an interview yesterday with OBSERVER media.
He admitted that the CIP, which has been used over the years to finance many government initiatives, is not currently in a state to take on the recurring cost of salaries/wages for the impending hires and the cost of funding the entire operation by itself. Therefore, the government has been implementing a more robust tax collection mechanism to recover outstanding revenue.
He said that government made the decision to hire these 100 workers in a programme to digitise birth, marriage and death records that are deteriorating in the national archives. He said that records prior to the 1950s are still on paper and are yet to be digitised.
Hurst added that the undertaking is not one of simply scanning the documents and entering them as PDFs, but workers will have to take the information off the page and type it into a computer database so that it can be accessed at anytime in the future.
The former Antigua and Barbuda ambassador to the United Nations explained that in order to ensure fairness in hiring, six or seven people will be hired from each of the 16 electoral districts in Antigua. Interested individuals are asked to apply to their parliamentary representative.
 He revealed that a couple of things must happen before these people are hired. A site must be identified for a facility big enough to house 100 computers and given the high value of the records that will be digitised, a security system must be put in place to ensure that they are not stolen or destroyed.
The government official said that getting these variables in place might take the government another three or four weeks.
Approximately 400 employees of ALORICA also known as the NCO Financial Services were laid off at the end of July. The news of the pending closure was first made public by Prime Minister Gaston Browne during a radio interview at another media house. Browne suggested that the company was closing its doors due to poor service by its employees.
The company quickly refuted Browne’s claims and stated that the it was moving its operations to Jamaica due to the high operating cost of business in Antigua. The company said that since setting up shop in Antigua it injected more than US $50 million and has employed more than 3,000 staff over the10 year period.

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