Former Senator Linton Thomas is dismayed at this year’s budget allocation for Barbuda, which is part of the $50.1 million allotment for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Agriculture, Trade and Barbuda Affairs.
Thomas says that budget will not be able to accomplish much on the sister-island, given that the funds have to be spread across four portfolios.
He notes that there is quite a bit of work to be done on Barbuda, including addressing the roads, which are in dire need of attention, as well as other repairs to the police station, the hospital, and the community centre.
During last week’s Budget Presentation, Prime Minister Gaston Browne referred to a number of projects for Barbuda, including the completion of a US$6.6 million Energy Resilience Project.
Browne said the work includes undergrounding electricity transmission lines; reconnecting homes damaged during Hurricane Irma – which was over five years ago; installing hybrid solar panels on public buildings; and adding 410kw of generating capacity to support back-up power generation at the Green Barbuda Energy Plant.
Among the other projects for Barbuda, according to Browne, are the construction of a new multipurpose centre and the rehabilitation of the community centre and Council buildings.
Browne, who is also the finance minister, said these projects will create greater employment on Barbuda and the opportunity for small- and medium-sized businesses to provide services.
But Thomas says the money that Government has been receiving from the Peace Love and Happiness (PLH) Project would have been able to sustain the sister-island – without the Council having to depend on Central Government for its reduced monthly subsidy.
The $7 billion PLH luxury development on Barbuda will continue construction, Browne said, with $400 million being spent in 2023, bringing the total spend to $2 billion by the end of the year.
Since Barbuda appears to be the money-maker for Antigua, Thomas says, the island and its people should be better off, and the deplorable roads and other infrastructure should not even exist.