Audience unimpressed with ‘regurgitated’ Throne Speech, saying it was short on 2024 plans

In a presentation titled “Embracing the Legacy, Shaping the Future”
Governor General Sir Rodney Williams delivered a Throne Speech
that some residents are describing as “a regurgitation” of the past
Many people say the Thursday, December 7, Speech from the
Throne was lacking.

Instead of outlining the Government’s plans and policies for the
coming year, the speech harked back to projects mentioned in the
past, such as road repairs; solar panels for schools; the
Government’s desire for a fleet of electric cars.
Meanwhile, the Russia-Ukraine war was blamed for the continued
high cost of living and food crisis.

Mention was made, yet again, of the COVID-19 pandemic, the
attendant struggles, and the vaccination programme’s success.
In addition, the Throne Speech praised the Antigua Labour Party’s
newest knight – the attorney-general and minister of justice and
legal affairs Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin – along with Sir Molwyn
Joseph and Sir Robin Yearwood.
In response, one woman says that all three presided over ministries
that are in dire need of fixing. Under Sir Molwyn, she observes, the
health infrastructure is crumbling, while under the former public
utilities minister, Sir Robin, the water crisis continues and “granny
still can’t bathe.”
Critics also note the reference to healthcare facilities constructed
during the COVID-19 pandemic; but they point out that no mention
was made of the existing health issues, including the closure of the
Cancer Centre.
The same criticism was applied to the reference of the millions
spent to install eight Reverse Osmosis Plants, with residents
marking the absence of plans to resolve the water crisis.
Rather, Sir Rodney said that “new leadership and a new approach to
water production at the Antigua Public Utilities Authority are sure
to bring new energy and innovation to a challenged APUA Water
The APUA Telecoms, the speech noted, is expected to bring
significant income and profits to the statutory authority. Hence,
every effort is being made to ensure that it can continue to provide
reliable revenue.

According to the presentation, the Electricity Business Unit now
controls close to 80 megawatts of capacity.
However, because of the Government’s international obligations to
reduce the country’s carbon footprint, the plants that are driven by
bunker-sea petroleum must be phased out, Sir Rodney said, and new
plants that are driven by wind, solar energy, ocean-thermal, or other
renewables are to be installed.
He said the midway point between the fossil-fuel-driven plants and
the renewables is Liquid Natural Gas (LNG); therefore the
Government has invested in such a plant through a BOOT
arrangement that will significantly reduce CO2 emissions, until less
costly batteries become available.
In his one-hour delivery, Sir Rodney also touched on the current
disagreement between Guyana and Venezuela over their century-
long border dispute.
He said the Browne Administration hopes there will be a peaceful
settlement in this matter, as the two countries are not just
geographic neighbours. He described Guyana as our “kith and kin,”
since a significant number of its citizens live in Antigua and
On the other hand, he added, Venezuela has demonstrated its lasting
friendship with this country, having come to the Government’s
assistance at critical times.
Accordingly, CARICOM has issued a statement following a ruling by
the International Court of Justice, by which, he said, Antigua and
Barbuda stands.

While a number of areas were touched, including national housing,
foreign affairs, tourism, and the Citizenship by Investment
Programme, the Throne Speech gave little insight into what the
Government intends to accomplish in the coming year.
However, experts say the 2024 Budget Presentation, which is
expected to be presented by Finance Minister Gaston Browne next
Friday, December 15, might highlight what the Throne Speech failed
to do.

In the meantime, one woman describes the Throne Speech as deja
Not even those in attendance appeared to be convinced by its
content, including Sir Rodney himself, she says, noting there was
hardly any applause when compared to previous years.
As evidence of the national lack of interest, those who tuned in to
view the presentation via the ABS Facebook feed numbered fewer
than 150.