Finance Minister Browne says AUA’s rental of Naval Base facilities will supplement income to Social Security Scheme

The Social Security Scheme should be renting one of the properties it owns – the former United States Naval Base – to the American University of Antigua (AUA).

During the sitting of the Lower House today, July 11, Barbuda MP Trevor Walker asked a series of questions pertaining related to the Social Security Scheme.

In particular, he asked how much cash the Browne Administration has paid on the $330 million bond issued to Social Security, in 2010, by the United Progressive Party Administration.

It was then that Prime Minister Gaston Browne mentioned the AUA’s intention to rent the Social Security property at Dutchman’s Bay.

At present, the Immigration Department uses part of the facility as its detention centre, and another area is used as a prison to house a British citizen serving a 15-year sentence.

Browne claims the entities now using the Naval Base pay nominal sums monthly in rent.

Meanwhile, Browne – the Minister of Finance – did admit that his Administration has paid only $3.5 million cash on the bond in nine years.

In contrast, the UPP has reported – and it has been confirmed – that it deposited $30 million in cash on the bond.

Browne continues to claim, however, that his is the only administration to have paid more monthly contributions than the UPP put into the depleted Scheme.

Responding to Browne’s boast, Walker’s reminded Browne that his administration has had the resources of the Citizenship by Investment Programme – $100 million annually – on which to rely.

But Browne countered that the UPP could have made similar payments, alleging that it was in a better position and had greater cash flows from loans taken during its terms in office.

This is a claim that has been refuted over the years by members of the Spencer Administration, with denials bolstered by successive annual budgets and IMF Article IV Reports.