Opposition parties chide PM’s loan pledge

Leader of the Democratic National Alliance Joanne Massiah and United Progressive Party leader Harold Lovell
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By Shermain Bique-Charles

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Pronouncements by Prime Minister Gaston Browne that his government is poised to borrow a whopping $150 million has come in for harsh criticism from his political opponents.

Both the leader of the Democratic National Alliance, Joanne Massiah, and United Progressive Party leader, Harold Lovell, believe that Browne failed to appropriately announce the bombshell news which they deemed “very serious to the wellbeing of the economy”.

The PM spoke of the loan on the government-aligned radio station, Pointe FM, last Saturday.

“If you are going to be borrowing 150 million dollars for the nation of Antigua and Barbuda, you don’t just announce that flippantly on your radio station,” Lovell said.

He also believes that issues of such significance require more information to be forthcoming when discussed.

“That is something that requires a plan. You need to say where it is coming from, what it would be used for, the interest rate…and you give the people the respect they deserve,” Lovell said.

Massiah agreed, saying Browne should use official channels such as state media to reveal news of national interest.

She called for clarification on whether the cash could be used to fund the next general elections which Browne recently declared – on his personal Facebook page – could be as early as November 2021.

“People wondering if you are going to borrow money to help your party win elections, sir. Even if you borrow it, taxpayers have to pay it back. The people have asked you to tell us, are you going to apply that money to tourism, social security and medical benefits?” Massiah said.

The DNA leader said she believes Browne has been getting away with “gutter-type politics” for far too long.

“I know he can do better and I wish he would do better. I am not sure if he was just shooting from the hip,” she said.

Browne said the $150 million loan would help stimulate the economy. He made it clear that no cash grants would be given out to individuals.

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