Browne’s plan to borrow from an investor to meet back-pay and salary-increase expenses is impractical, Watts says
The Browne Administration’s plan to borrow money to meet its outstanding financial obligations to public servants is not practical, says Algernon “Serpent” Watts, the United Progressive Party (UPP) Candidate for St. George.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne recently announced that the Government is in discussions with a billion-dollar investor with a view to securing funds for government workers’ back pay.
Browne says his Administration is courting the investor in an attempt to get his project here and make it a CIP-approved investment.
If the discussions are successful, Browne says, the investor will be asked to advance US$10 million to the Government. These proceeds will go towards the monies owed to public servants, who were promised both back pay and salary increases by the end of this year.
However, Watts says that Browne is placing Antigua and Barbuda in a difficult situation with all these loans. And he is questioning how practical this borrowing is, since – apart from the back pay – salary increases are part of recurring expenditure.
In the meantime, Browne – the Minister of Finance – has said that next year, 2023, is a more likely time frame for the promised salary increases, given that negotiations with the unions are not yet complete.
Other sources claim that Browne is having a “warmer time than he expected” in these negotiations, since, reportedly, they are being conducted with the Trade Union Congress (TUC), rather than with individual unions.