UPP asks Cabinet why diversion of profits from statutory bodies is necessary in this ‘economic powerhouse’

The United Progressive Party  (UPP) is condemning what it describes as
“the failed Gaston Browne-led Government” for Cabinet’s new mandate to
statutory corporations and government-owned companies.

In a Cabinet decision dated Wednesday,  December 13, 2023, these
agencies were informed that, as a matter of policy, a minimum of 50
percent of their dividends on profit or surplus “should be remitted … to the
Consolidated Fund,” effective January 1, 2024.
However, the executive order was dated and stamped by the Cabinet
Secretariat on January 4, 2024.

The UPP is calling on the Government to leave “the people’s money” alone,
especially funds belonging to the Medical Benefits and Social Security

It notes that these funds are to be used for the payment of benefits and for
advancing the corporations’ missions of social welfare and upkeep of the
Nation’s health infrastructure. 

If the country is in such a stable financial state and considered an
economic powerhouse by the Browne Administration, the UPP is
wondering why the diversion of profits is necessary.
“Isn’t Gaston Browne’s onslaught of tax increases and new taxes enough to
prop up Government’s finances?” the Party asks.

Accordingly, Party officials are worried further about the country’s ’s true
financial state. They point out that this new measure regarding the statutory
bodies was not mentioned in any of the December Cabinet Notes, nor in
the Budget Presentation on December 15.

Further, they point to the fact that although tax hikes to fund public-sector
salary increases went into effect on January 1, the Browne Administration
is yet to announce when, exactly, public servants will receive their new

Meanwhile, the last of the LIAT (1974) workers will be made redundant as
of February 5, 2024; and, like their colleagues who were terminated in
2020, they have no idea when the Browne Administration will pay their
severance and benefits.

Many people are speculating that – despite raising significant revenue in
2013 – including record takings by the Port Authority – the Government’s
income is being swallowed by loan repayments, poor investments like the
failed E-book project, and the creative-enrichment schemes of Cabinet
members and their cronies.

Recalling the rape of the once-prosperous Free Trade Zone by a previous
Labour Party Administration, UPP Chair D.Gisele Isaac notes that, on
assuming office in 2014, the Browne Cabinet was said to have raked $27
million out of the Medical Benefits Scheme’s reserves.

She says she “cannot believe they’re planning to raid the statutory
corporations again and in an economic climate like this.” Yet, at the same
time, she adds, “Gaston Browne is fooling the people with this expensive
‘free concert’ that they, themselves, are paying for.”

She was referring to the “One Nation Concert” staged by the Administration
on Saturday night, January 13, for which high-priced performers were

Meanwhile, the UPP is particularly concerned that other statutory
corporations are struggling financially and that most of their audited
financial reports and management letters remain a secret.
For quite some time now, Opposition Leader Jamale Pringle – chair of the
Public Accounts Committee – has been asking for  these financial records,
and even has written directly to Finance Minister Browne requesting them –
but to no avail or acknowledgement. 

In some instances – such as the National Housing Corporation – not one
record has ever been brought to Parliament, the opposition party alleges.