THE GREAT UPP GIVE-AWAY
The Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party takes note of the statement made available to the public by the UPP (United Progressive Party) on this date, in response to the revelation by the Prime Minister, Honourable Gaston Browne, that the UPP arranged to give away more than $101,000,000 (one hundred and one million dollars) of ABST revenues to a single hotelier.
When that information was made public by the Prime Minister during a debate and interview on a local radio station, on Tuesday afternoon, November 7, 2017, the UPP Leader subsequently sought to exonerate himself from “the great give-away”. The UPP press release attempted to lay the blame at the feet of the UPP Minister of Finance of record on January 20, 2009.
The cowardly and mendacious response by the UPP neglected to point out that the negotiations for the “great give-away” was undertaken by the Minister of Tourism of record, in January 2009, but had to be signed by the UPP Finance Minister since only that Minister appeared to have the authority under The Finance Administration Act 2006.
The ABLP continues to assert that no such authority existed under the law and, therefore, brought the extralegal arrangement to an end effective December 31, 2016. The hotelier entered into an arrangement to commence the payment of the ABST from January 1, 2017.
The attempt by the UPP Leader to wiggle out of a blatantly unjust arrangement by blaming another member of the UPP Cabinet in 2009, is an example of the poor leadership exhibited by the ousted representative during his ten years of ministerial responsibilities. Cabinet decisions are the joint and shared responsibility of its members. The 2009 great give-away was very much the responsibility of the current UPP leader.
The ABLP condemns the current leader for his role in the decision back in 2009, and again denounces the UPP Leader for the cowardly act of blaming another of his former colleagues when the error was clearly his own. The people of Antigua and Barbuda were burdened by an IMF loan of $320,000,000 (three hundred and twenty million dollars) in the same year that this massive give-away was arranged.
The ABLP continues to insist that all right-thinking Antiguans and Barbudans ought to join King Short Shirt (Sir Maclean Emanuel) who has urged national support for the Prime Minister for his bold and courageous action, to end the give-away and to secure those resources for future development.