Gaston Browne Administration Buckles Under Pressure But Fails to Offer Adequate Relief

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Harold Lovell at UPP Press Conference Photo by Samantha Simon
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Even in the waning days of his administration, Gaston Browne has presented crumbs to Antiguans and Barbudans, in a desperate attempt to address urgent calls for economic relief.

In a press conference called last Tuesday to highlight the failures of the Gaston Browne-led Labour Party administration, UPP Political Leader, Harold Lovell, offered 6 Simple Solutions for Immediate Relief.  Amid mounting public pressure, Prime Minister Gaston Browne has addressed these demands with his own counterproposals. However, Lovell describes the recent offers by the Browne-led administration as “adding insult to injury.” He noted that only one dollar was removed from the price of gas and the price of goods on the supermarket shelves has not been addressed.

“These measures provide little comfort, as many Antiguans and Barbudans struggle to feed their families,” Lovell said.

The political leader questions the ABLP’s priorities in addressing the needs of the people, despite record levels of borrowing and revenue collection that should have put the government in a good financial position.  He believes that the Gaston Browne administration has fallen woefully short in their attempts to counter the UPP’s calls for relief, especially since only 3 of the 6 UPP proposals have been addressed. These are:

– Lowering the cost of fuel and diesel by just over $1, as opposed to $3.04 for gas and $4.59 for diesel;

– Allocating 200,000USD to pay National Solid Waste Management’s truckers as opposed to 50% owed to all vendors and small contractors;

– Reaffirming that civil servants will receive only one month’s salary in lieu of back payments owed since 2018.

“This is a weak and desperate ABLP manoeuvre that ignores the real depth of the crisis that many face. It is merely an attempt to appease voters as we go to the polls. The ABLP continues to turn a blind eye to stagnated wages and economic hardships that our people face, “ Lovell said.

A call for outstanding severance payments to LIAT and CAS workers was ignored. He was also especially critical of the ABLP’s failure to lower customs duties on essential food items and to extend ABST Relief weekends.

“What about the rising cost of living? I want to see our people retain more of their income because I believe that it is the Antiguan and Barbudan people who will help drive the economy and get us back on the road to economic recovery, “ Lovell said.

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