Lovell, Lewis react to Throne Speech

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The Leader of the United Progressive Party (UPP), Harold Lovell, said the Throne Speech delivered by Governor General Sir Rodney Williams on December 20, was a “PR exercise”. Lovell, who spoke yesterday with OBSERVER media, said Thursday’s speech missed its true purpose and was instead used to paint a positive image of the government.
“The change that I am noticing with the Throne Speech is that it is becoming more and more political every year. And so what you really heard yesterday was not a Throne Speech in terms of what the government plans to do, and the rationale for those plans, but rather a PR exercise to really try and make the Antigua Labour Party look good.” The UPP Leader expressed his disappointment in the Governor General’s presentation, which he said failed to outline a clear plan for the country. “We thought we might have heard something new; we didn’t. We thought we may have seen some sort of plan for the future; we didn’t. What we heard really was a number of things put in different languages, the things we have heard before. I really long for the day when we will see a clear plan for Antiguans and Barbudans within the economy for Antigua and Barbuda.
“We need legislation just as the UPP did to stimulate investment. I was hoping that we may have heard of one or two initiatives which would be designed to stimulate investment, local investment and foreign direct investment. Specific policies to be implemented in order to achieve those objectives. “The investments we heard about are the same investments that have been spoken about for the last four years.” Meantime, Richard Lewis, the St John’s Rural West caretaker and the Senate Minority Leader, and who is also challenging Lovell for the leadership of the UPP, was the first opposition member to publicise his thoughts on the Throne Speech.
Via an email which he shared with OBSERVER media on Thursday, Lewis expressed similar sentiments to those of his political leader, stating that the Throne Speech offered no hope of curbing the rising cost of living which is suffocating Antiguans and Barbudans. “We can only look forward to new taxes on top of those we are currently dealing with. We hear that 2019 will see a new tax on sugary drinks, which will squarely target low- and middle-income citizens and residents,” he said in the missive.
He suggested that, given the undeniable reality of a shortage of private sector jobs, it was absolutely unconscionable to propose yet another new tax at this time. The Throne Speech was the precursor to the 2019 Budget Speech which is expected to be presented some time in January.

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