Opposition Leader Jamale Pringle is not at all satisfied with this year’s Throne Speech, which he considers as lacking substance.
Pringle, the MP for All Saints East and St. Luke, says he was hoping the Government would have outlined some of its plans to revitalize the economy and explain how it will deal with the high cost of living.
While brief mention was made of the persistent water crisis, he notes that there was nothing on how the Administration plans to seriously address it.
The MP says the same thing has been repeated about the water crisis for the past eight years, while residents continue to go without the precious commodity – in some cases for as long as three weeks.
Pringle says he does not subscribe to the theory that inflation has been driven solely by external shocks – such as the supply-chain issues brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic or the war in the Ukraine that has caused fuel and food prices to skyrocket.
While these might have been factors beyond the control of the Government, the Opposition Leader says, there are mechanisms the Browne Administration has failed to put in place to ease the burden on the people.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Gaston Browne, the minister of finance, disagrees with Pringle, saying the Throne Speech was excellent, replete with substance, and well delivered.
Browne, in his signature arrogant way, sought to insult MP Pringle and his colleagues on the Opposition bench by attacking their level of intelligence.
He says that Pringle is still learning and therefore would not have comprehended the depth of the Throne Speech.
Meanwhile, Browne claims that, within a two-year period, the Government was able to recoup 16 percent of the losses caused by the pandemic in 2020. And by the end of the first quarter of this year, he claims, the Government will be able to completely recover the 20 percent that was lost.
The prime minister is anticipating a positive increase in the size of the economy; so, by the end of 2023, the Government expects to have an economy of about $5 billion – the largest it has ever been in the history of Antigua and Barbuda.
He claims the evidence of the Government’s performance can be seen all over the country, as demonstrated in the cruise sector and the expansion of the cruise facilities.
In response to this assertion, a businesswoman in the tourism tells REAL News she laughed. “Expansion in the cruise sector for whose benefit?” she asks. “Maybe for Global Ports, but certainly not for the taxi drivers, vendors and boutique owners in the Quay,” she says.