Gaston Browne needs to stop insulting our intelligence.
Contrary to his claimed “clarification” that the Cabinet policy “excludes Social Security, Medical Benefits, and Education Levy, ensuring the stability of essential public services.”
The Cabinet note did NOT exclude Social Security, Medical Benefits and the Board of Education from the 50% payment decision.
The original Cabinet note, of Wednesday 13th December, 2023 states: “14.
As a matter of Policy, Cabinet agreed that a minimum of 50% dividend payment (on profit/surplus) should be remitted by all Statutory Corporations and government owned companies to the consolidated fund effective 1st January, 2024.”
Social Security, Medical Benefits and the Board of Education are Statutory Corporations and there is no line stating “with the exception of Social Security and the Medical Benefits Scheme”.
I call upon the PM to prove to the public that a new Cabinet Decision would have been taken and circulated, which specifically excludes Social Security, Medical Benefits and the Board of Education from the 50% payment decision which was applied to all Statutory Corporations.
Further, excluding Social Security, Medical Benefits and the Board of Education is not enough to remedy this egregious and unexplained policy decision.
Other Statutory Bodies possess their own unique problems, priorities and future plans, which require them to utilize the funds Central Government now wants to claim.
All funds held by Social Security, Medical Benefits & all other Statutory Bodies should be used to pay benefits on time, improve service delivery and prepare for future uncertainties.
Not to bail out Gaston Browne’s failed government.
The public of Antigua and Barbuda have been rightly asking why the Government needs this 50% payment if we have record revenue collection and economic growth in the so-called “economic powerhouse?”
The current parlous state of affairs further underscores urgency of the Opposition Leader’s request that all audited accounts and management letters from all Statutory Bodies be submitted to the Director of Audit, for scrutiny by the Public Accounts Committee.
Once these financial are open to public scrutiny we will finally learn the true reason for the barrage of new taxes and other hardships.