Like many others, Franz deFreitas, the United Progressive Party
(UPP) caretaker for St. John’s City South, is not moved by the prime
minister’s recent offer to donate his monthly salary to support the
fourth United Nations Small Island Developing States (SIDS)
This major international conference is expected to attract hundreds
of people – including more than 50 heads of government and of state
– to Antigua and Barbuda in May 2024.
Two weekends ago, Prime Minister Gaston Browne announced that
he would lead by example and donate his salary to help ensure the
event is successful.
Many people responded to the news by saying the gesture is just a
sham, since the prime minister will be recouping his money in some
However, deFreitas says this move comes right out of the playbook
of tyrants and kleptocrats.
These people routinely do such things to fool others into believing
they are “good,” de Freitas explains. However, he says, there is
nothing good about the current leadership of Antigua and Barbuda.
The UPP caretaker notes that the prime minister’s donation to the
hosting of the SIDS conference does nothing for the people of this
But what would be of benefit, he adds, is Browne demitting office to
allow the country to prosper and the suffering of the people to end
– in short, “donating” the resources of the Nation for the people’s
Meanwhile, deFreitas says, what Browne’s gesture shows is that the
prime minister has a great deal of money and can choose to funnel it
wherever he wants.
Franz deFreitas, UPP caretaker for St. John’s City South.
Earlier this week, the UPP chairman reminded her radio audience
that – in ongoing solidarity with the people – former Prime Minister
Baldwin Spencer reduced his housing allowance by 60 percent for
the duration of his tenure, while his Cabinet took a 10 percent cut in
That was no gimmick, she said, but a demonstration of the UPP’s
“People First” sensibility.
In the meantime, there is speculation that the rented high-end
vehicles to be used for certain conference delegates will be sourced
from members of the Cabinet.