By Latrishka Thomas
“We are not letting it go” Prime Minister Gaston Browne exclaimed when speaking of the Peace Love and Happiness (PLH) project currently being developed in Barbuda.
Browne stressed that the development is essential to the economic recovery of Antigua and Barbuda. So much so, “I rather fight them or resign than to turn a blind eye,” he declared.
The multimillion-dollar project has been severely criticised by residents of Barbuda who are concerned about the environmental impact that the project will have on the area.
About two weeks ago, Barbuda Council Secretary, Paul Nedd, was arrested for obstructing a police officer by blocking passage to a public road with a motor vehicle.
He was also charged with disorderly conduct at the project’s Palmetto Point site.
Recently, the Council confirmed its intention to file an injunction against the group.
But the Prime Minister is not daunted by the Council’s “tactics,” and threatened to have Barbuda Member of Parliament, Trevor Walker, jailed if he breaks the law.
“But I’ve said to them, if it’s one time a government is going to put its foot down and to deal with them when they break the law, it is this time around, and my word is my bond. I don’t want anybody coming to me to beg no pardon.
“If Trevor Walker and them continue to break the law over there, is jail they going. Because, at the end of the day we are gonna insist that the police must do their work, and when they bring charges and they are found guilty, they will end up in jail,” he remarked.
Browne, who is also the Finance Minister of Finance, made these stern statements because he believes that “this project is one of the projects that we are depending on to lift up our country out of the economic difficulties created by Covid.”
Thus, the Prime Minister declared that his government will not be backing down.
“And if we have to go to parliament to change the law to facilitate the project, we will do so,” he stated.
Browne predicted that without PLH and other investors, it would take about four years for the country to recover.
“But if indeed we are able to attract and implement those investments, then potentially, we can reduce the time to maybe 18 months,” he revealed.
The Prime Minister also disclosed that the country’s debt to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio is expected to increase to 110 percent.
Antigua and Barbuda’s debt-to-GDP ratio was 69 percent at the end of 2019, Browne shared.