Political Leader of the United Progressive Party (UPP) Harold Lovell says ongoing amendments to the already-signed agreement between Government and Global Port Holdings (GPH) are indicative of an arrangement that is “falling apart”.
On February 1st this year, GPH signed a US $80 million 30-year exclusive concession agreement with the Government of Antigua and Barbuda to manage cruise port facilities and operations in the country.
The agreement includes the financing of a fifth cruise pier to accommodate OASIS Class vessels, and additional investments aimed at improving the shopping and other entertainment amenities in and around Heritage Quay.
The deal has however evoked intense criticism, public protests, pickets and stiff opposition from a wide spectrum of society.
Lovell was speaking on the OBSERVER AM show yesterday when he made the remark – in light of yet another planned amendment to the contract, this time to allow Antiguans and Barbudans the opportunity to invest in the company, according to Prime Minister Gaston Browne.
“What we are witnessing now is the Prime Minister attempting to put sticking plaster on the little bits and pieces here and there. There is a basic problem with the agreement and we are watching the agreement fall apart because the agreement is a bad agreement,” Lovell said.
The UPP leader was also unenthusiastic about the new path PM Browne has announced he will take.
“I want to say that I am not impressed to the approach which he is now taking in relation to Antiguans and Barbudans being allowed to buy shares. We have been talking about a proper joint venture properly structured, not a sticking plaster, hopscotch approach.”
Lovell also expressed concern about Prime Minister Browne’s recent comments to deter the public from purchasing shares in GPH at this time.
“Now he is saying to the nation of Antigua and Barbuda that he would not advise anyone to buy any shares in any such venture unless it is a regional project. What is the basis on which he is saying that?
“That is to say that if he goes down that road and it doesn’t work out after he has discouraged people he will then say, see it didn’t work. There needs to be a proper approach. We need to see what it is we are trying to achieve here in Antigua and Barbuda.”