PM Browne looks to ‘maximise’ the profits from relief grants

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Prime Minister Gaston Browne has declared that he and his administration are “very disappointed” that Antiguans and Barbudans were not “benefiting from the profits” that he believes are possible from the spending of reconstruction grants.
Browne was speaking in Barbuda last week at the launch ceremony for the Building Back Better project at which he scolded United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) officials over this and another issue.
The Building Back Better initiative is a UNDP procurement project funded by the People’s Republic of China (PRC), in which the United Nations agency sourced construction material from abroad.
The prime minister said firmly, “We cannot have a situation in which other entities outside of Antigua and Barbuda are benefiting from the profits and our people are left behind,” and called on the “error” to be “corrected as soon as possible.”
Browne argued that there was “no evidence of getting better value from purchasing material from abroad” and encouraged the UNDP, the agency through which a number of donor countries are channeling their grants, to seek waivers for any requirement to bid contracts and instead, just buy locally.
The prime minister said that simply receiving the grant’s value in supplies is a “token benefit” which was “not acceptable.” As such, he urged the international agency to help “maximize the benefits” to Antiguans and Barbudans of the money being entrusted to it by donor countries for local reconstruction.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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