Opposition lays out plans

Leader of the Antigua Labour Party, Gaston Browne

ST JOHN’S — Leader of the Antigua Labour Party, Gaston Browne, outlined his party’s plans to consolidate ministries and disband statutory boards during the budget debate yesterday.

“Immediately, as we form the government, we will realign the public sector to create better synergies, increase effectiveness, competitiveness, functionality and cost savings,” he said.

In his first budget debate as leader of the opposition, Browne said under performing statutory boards would be turned into executive agencies, operating within a ministry, rather than as independent bodies.

“Certain boards that, notwithstanding the autonomy they have been given, failed to deliver better value to the people, and where there is a lot of wastage; those boards will be brought into their generic ministries going forward,” Browne said.

“I would say definitively the (Antigua & Barbuda) Investment Authority is one such statutory corporation, which will be made into an executive agency and be brought into the Ministry of Finance…”

Browne also indicated that an ALP government would cut the number of ministries currently operating in half. He gave an example of transforming the Ministry of Finance into a new ministry of finance and corporate governance.

“The ministry will be the oversight ministry to ensure that best value is delivered to the masses for every dollar of taxes collected,” he said.

“The ministry will also establish incentives, the checks and balances, and strengthen the government framework by eliminating opportunities for corruption.”

Browne alleged that corruption has reached new heights in Antigua & Barbuda.

“Perhaps for the first time in the history of this country, corruption has now manifested itself in lower living standards for the people of this country,” he said.

The labour party boss commended the UPP government for creating legislation designed to address corruption, but said they did not go far enough.

In his presentation, Browne also criticised the UPP government for increasing tax revenue by hundreds of millions of dollars, but being unable to fix the fiscal problems, or fund a reasonable level of development in the country. (Antigua Observer)

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