Prime Minister Gaston Browne says Antiguans and Barbudans may be allowed to purchase shares in Global Ports Holding (GPH) following proposed changes to the controversial agreement between his government and that company.
The government and GPH continue to make modifications to the agreement, despite having already signed a concession agreement in February 2019.
After much public outcry from civil society, the Prime Minister said he decided to ask GPH to allow Antiguans and Barbudans to invest in its company.
“In response to the agitations from members of the opposition, which they are asking for Antiguans and Barbudans to be able to [invest in the company], we have asked Global Ports to convert its company into a listed company, which will allow for the sale of shares in the region,” he said.
Browne expressed doubts as to whether allowing the public to purchase shares would be good for the company at this time.
Nevertheless, he said, GPH was willing to accept the risk.
“It will only become viable if the [cruise] traffic increases exponentially, [but] Global Ports is willing to take that risk. It is not an investment that I would not have recommended at this time from a risk standpoint,” he said.
Opposition parties — including the United Progressive Party (UPP) and the Faithful Nationals coalition – have heaped criticism on the government over the US $83 million deal, terming it “a giveaway” of national assets, mainly the cruise ports.
Over the last two months, the Faithful Nationals coalition has staged a number of weekly protests to register their dissatisfaction with the agreement.