Prime Minister Gaston is seeking to shed light on the $540 million bond “secretly” taken out by his Administration over a year ago, implying that it is the same bond that was circulated on the international capital market in February this year and subsequently cancelled.
About three weeks ago, it was revealed that, on July 31, 2021, the Browne Administration clandestinely floated a 10-year bond for US$200 million, at a 4 percent interest rate, which was taken up by a company called Resilience Partners Incorporated.
This information was contained on page 102 of the 2022 Budget Estimates.
However, today, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Barbuda, Trevor Walker, sought to get some clarity on the bonds: whether there were two separate borrowings and whether the Government had received the funds from the 2021 bond.
PM Browne, who is the Minister of Finance, reiterated that the bond had been cancelled, appearing to suggest that the bonds were one and the same.
Asked to explain why the bond is listed in the 2022 Budget Estimates under the debt stock for 2021, PM Browne gave what has been described by one resident as “an interesting and peculiar explanation.”
He claimed that an appropriate heading had to be created in the event the Government had received those funds.
Browne had said the proceeds from the bond would be used to implement projects that would stimulate the economy and would secure growth of 8 per cent this year (2022).
Two of these projects were the acquisition and renovation of the Jolly Beach Hotel and the construction of a resort at Morris Bay.
The Political Leader of the United Progressive Party, Harold Lovell, noted earlier that $540 million is 50 percent of the national budget and a significant part of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and could have been used to boost the country’s economy.