Gov’t said to owe foster parents 17 months’ stipend, while senior citizen is forced to trade food voucher for cooking gas

As evidence of how cash-strapped the Browne Administration is,
foster parents are reporting that they are owed for 17 months now.

One couple tells REAL News that their family received their monthly
stipend for four months in 2022, but has gotten nothing since – not
even an explanation nor an apology – for all of 2023.

According to a foster parent, the family has been meeting all the
needs of the child in their care – without the Government’s

However, she says, at her daughter’s age – the child is now a
teenager – there are things she would like to have, “just like
everybody else.”

This complaint comes alongside laments from persons who are
owed by the Social Protection Board.

A senior citizen tells REAL News that he last received a cheque in
May 2023; however, he explains, that payment was for the month of
January. Accordingly, cheques for these last nine months are

Since then, and periodically, the Board has distributed supermarket
vouchers to its dependents. However, as the elderly man points out,
“food vouchers can’t pay bills.”

Recently, he says, he had to trade a $50 supermarket voucher with a
neighbour for a small cylinder of cooking gas, which allows him to
prepare hot meals for himself.

Given the situation that he and other dependents have been facing
this year, he is asking of the Browne Administration, “Whah dem do
wid all the money?”

In the meantime, however, other residents are alleging that the food
vouchers are being used for political patronage. They claim they
have witnessed young and able-bodied supporters of the Antigua
Labour Party using them “to pay for full baskets of goods” at the

At the same time, one resident says, “honest working people can’t
manage. We pick up things and have to put them back on the shelf,
because everything is so dear and our pay is the same.”

Given their suffering and sacrifice, they all say they are deeply
resentful – or “tiff tone bex,” as one woman puts it – that the Browne
Administration can find the money to maintain the air-conditioning
system on the Alfa Nero luxury yacht.

International media have reported that the Administration spends
US$2,000 every month for generator fuel alone – in order to protect
the yacht’s furnishings and floors from mold.

However, locally, poor families say they are unable to run their
cooling fans for too long in the current heat, because of high
electricity bills.

“We are a forgotten people!” the Rural East resident concludes sadly.