The United Progressive Party (UPP) is dissatisfied with the Browne Administration’s lack of effort to alleviate the economic hardships facing the people.
During a press conference last week, Political Leader Harold Lovell highlighted the failures of the Browne-led Labour Party Administration, and he offered six “simple solutions for immediate relief” – including reducing fuel prices to their pre-Ukraine War levels.
Amid mounting public pressure, Prime Minister Browne countered with his own proposal for such reductions, which Lovell describes as “adding insult to injury.”
In a follow-up press statement, the UPP notes that, “even in the waning days of his administration, Gaston Browne has presented crumbs to Antiguans and Barbudans in a desperate attempt to address urgent calls for economic relief.”
Lovell says it is not enough to remove [$1.55] from the price of a gallon of gas when the cost of supermarket goods has not been addressed.
“These measures provide little comfort, as many Antiguans and Barbudans struggle to feed their families,” he says.
The Political Leader also questions the Administration’s priorities in meeting the needs of the people, given its record levels of borrowing and revenue collection – which should have put the Government in a good financial position.
Meanwhile, Lovell says the Browne Administration has fallen woefully short in its attempts to counter the UPP’s call for relief, since only three of its six proposals have been addressed.
So far, the Government has lowered the cost of gas by $1.55, rather than the $3.04 the UPP called for, and diesel by $2.54 and not the $4.59 recommended.
The Cabinet has also allocated US$200,000 to help pay truckers at the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) and not the 50% of all sums owed to vendors and small contractors.
And, third, the Administration has confirmed that public servants will receive one month’s salary as a deposit on back payments owed since 2018.
Lovell says the ALP has initiated a weak and desperate maneuver, ignoring the real depth of the crisis that many face, and its efforts are merely an attempt to appease voters as they go to the polls.
He notes, too, that the Administration continues to ignore his call for outstanding severance to be paid to former LIAT and CAS workers, and he is critical of its failure to lower Customs duties on essential food items and to extend the ABST-relief weekends.