PM refutes allegations of gov’t raiding statutory corporations

Barbuda’s MP Trevor Walker (File photo)
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Prime Minister Gaston Browne has denied suggestions that the government has been taking money from statutory corporations to pay the salaries and wages for public sector workers.

The Member of Parliament for Barbuda, Trevor Walker, posed that question to Browne during Parliament yesterday.

 “I am not aware that we had taken any funds from any statutory corporation. In fact, to the contrary, I can say definitively that the Central Government has been subsidizing a number of statutory corporations,” the prime minister explained in Parliament.

For example, Browne said, because the St John’s Development Corporation is unable to generate income, the government had to dish out about $400,000 to pay the staff.

 “From time to time, we have had to make contributions to other statutory corporations. There is no evidence that any statutory organization has been contributing to the payment of salaries and wages,” he reiterated.

However, Browne said the Antigua and Barbuda Transport Board has made financial contributions to the Social Security Board to help meet its commitments.

 “They have been making on average $1.5 million in credit on a monthly to assist the Social Security Scheme which operates independent of the Central Government,” he said.

Walker also asked Browne, who is also the Minister of Finance, whether or not the government had taken $20 million from the Medical Benefit Scheme to pay into the Consolidated Fund.

Browne responded that some time in 2014, his government used that money to pay off an over $100 million debt.

He said the money was not a loan but a contribution to assist the government at the time to meet its obligations.

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