Gov’t will not fork out $10M, PM tells Barbuda Council

Gaston Browne
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Trevor Walker

By Theresa Goodwin

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Prime Minister Gaston Browne says the Barbuda Council has no chance of receiving the $10 million it claims it is owed in outstanding subventions.

Council members have argued that they were accustomed to receiving close to $10 million in subventions from the central government – an amount which was reduced after Hurricane Irma in 2017 allegedly due to a reduction in the civil service workforce.

Members have also long complained of not receiving the funds in a timely manner.

Last week, Member of Parliament for Barbuda Trevor Walker declared that the Council is prepared to go to court to get the money he claims is legally due. The precise amount outstanding is the subject of dispute between the Council and government.

Walker told Observer the Council had received a total of $800,000 since the start of the year, which falls significantly short of what is required for the body to cover its financial obligations, including to government entities such as the Medical Benefits Scheme, Social Security and Education Levy.

However, during a radio interview on Saturday, Browne made it clear that the Council would have to earn any extra money it needs on its own.

“I believe we have a balance in the six million; they would have gotten five point something million for the year and it is a supplement. This idea that they’re going to demand that they get 10, I do not know how he [Walker] will achieve that,” the PM said.

Browne added, “We do have a small balance which we will cover shortly. When we would have dispensed of that six million as budgeted, that is the extent of our legal obligation to the Barbuda Council. If they want more money, then they have to go and earn it on their own.”

 The PM did not comment directly on the possibility of a court case being filed.

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