Lewis says so-called exclusion of three statutory bodies is not enough; gov’t agencies must keep surplus to meet their needs  

Echoing the remarks of financial and economic analyst Everett
Christian, MP Richard Lewis believes that Prime Minister Gaston
Browne is taking the people of Antigua and Barbuda for fools as he
continues to insult their intelligence.
Prime Minister Browne has denied that the Medical Benefits
Scheme, the Social Security Scheme, and the Board of Education are
included in the new Cabinet mandate that the statutory
corporations contribute at least 50 percent of their surplus or
profits to the Consolidated Fund. 
However, Lewis is calling on the prime minister to back up his claim
by producing a fresh Cabinet decision.
In spite of Browne’s so-called “clarification” that the Cabinet policy
“excludes Social Security, Medical Benefits, and Education Levy,

ensuring the stability of essential public services,” his assertion
contradicts the missive from the Cabinet.
Lewis is adamant that the “original Cabinet note, dated Wednesday,
December 13, 2023” did not exclude the three “from the 50%
payment decision” as of January 1, 2024.

Accordingly, he is challenging the prime minister to prove to the
public that a new Cabinet decision – which specifically excludes all
three entities – has been taken and circulated.

Further, Lewis says that excluding the three entities is not enough to
remedy what he terms “this egregious and unexplained policy
He notes that other statutory corporations possess their own unique
problems, priorities, and future plans, and these require that they
utilize the funds that Central Government now wants to claim.
Lewis says that funds held by all the statutory bodies should be used
to pay benefits on time; improve service delivery; and prepare for
future uncertainties – not to bail out Gaston Browne’s failed
The MP is joining with many others in asking why the Government
needs this 50 percent dividend if there is, in fact, record revenue
collection and economic growth in the so-called “economic
According to Lewis, this “current parlous state of affairs further
underscores the urgency of the Opposition Leader’s request that all
audited accounts and management letters from all statutory bodies
be submitted to the Director of Audit, for scrutiny by the Public
Accounts Committee.”

Once these financial records are obtained and are open to public
scrutiny, he says, residents will finally learn the true reason for the
barrage of new taxes and other hardships that have been placed on
the backs of the people.