Opposition parties accuse ABLP government of failure

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The country’s main opposition United Progressive Party (UPP) said the early general election notice signals a failed government.
A similar criticism also came from Joanne Massiah, leader of the Democratic National Alliance (DNA)
Harold Lovell, political leader of the UPP, expressed the view on the weekend, hours after Gaston Browne, prime minister, announced that voters will go to the polls on March 21 to allow for continuity of his government.
During the launch of the Antigua Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) campaign Saturday night, PM Browne said he was calling the election more than a year early because he believes his government has performed.
He also revealed that Parliament will be dissolved today [Monday 26 February] and the Writ of Election will be issued the following day [Tuesday]. The date for nomination was not revealed.
However, in a release to the media, Lovell said the election has been called in 2018, one year earlier, simply because things “are not normal.”
He also said residents in Antigua are fully aware that the ABLP administration, led by Gaston Browne, has failed to deliver on its 2014 election promises and has disappointed even the “die-hard supporters of the Labour Party”.
Lovell also accused the ABLP leader of victimising the faithful supporters of the United Progressive Party.
“Despite his penchant for tossing around numbers, the truth that all of us – outside of the Browne circle – know and live, is that life is harder than ever after nearly four years of this wicked government,” the statement read.
Lovell further stated that the world enjoyed the lowest oil prices internationally in more than a decade. But, Antigua and Barbuda never benefitted and the same can be said about the revenues of the Citizenship by Investment Programme.
In addition, he said tourism did not enjoy the surge similar to neighbouring islands such as St. Lucia and St. Kitts.
On the contrary, he said: “We fell on the happiness index, crashed on the nutrition scale, and sank on every other meaningful indicator of prosperity and well-being.”
The political leader of the UPP also claimed that as things got better, brighter and more prosperous for Browne [the prime minister] and the members of the Cabinet of Antigua and Barbuda, fellow citizens and residents, were forced to do without the basic things a good government, in financial times, is expected to provide.
That is water supply; decent roads; good preventative healthcare; vibrant and competitive education; and the care of seniors, the disabled and the vulnerable.
The UPP plans to put forward 16 candidates to contest the general elections.
And, its political leader declared that the party stands ready to offer hope to all.
Meanwhile, Massiah in an emailed response to our newsroom, said the ABLP Gaston Brown-led government has achieved less than 15 percent of its 2014 manifesto promises on which the majority of the electorate gave him a mandate.
The DNA leader also described the government’s performance as one of epic failure.
She dismissed the decision to call an early election as a “ruse…a political gamble… by a desperate PM who is devoid of ideas regarding how to jump start a failing economy using creative ways without selling out our country and our people.
“The economy continues to underperform and this fact has a direct correlation on employment and investment (local and foreign). Added to this is the fact that government’s principal revenue earner, the Citizenship by Investment Programme, has virtually dried up.
“The Medical Benefits Scheme and the Antigua and Barbuda Social Security Scheme are on the doorsteps of bankruptcy and very soon will be unable to fulfil their obligations to beneficiaries – the Mount St. John’s Medical Centre, and service their loan obligations.”
The DNA has presented 11 candidates, including its leader Massiash. The party leader said other potential candidates will be unveiled shortly.

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