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Wednesday, October 28, 2020

A&B Under Financial Strain, May Seek IMF, WB Help

PM Gaston Browne

The strain of the pandemic appears to be telling on Antigua & Barbuda with its Prime Minister Gaston Browne admitting the government may be forced to borrow funds, a suggestion he previously rejected.

His position has long been applying for additional loans would be the last resort, but the Prime Minister said based on the current financial state of affairs, that last resort may have arrived.

In conversation with the Loop, Browne said,“We have to engage in some level of borrowing even though very sparingly. I can see us borrowing may be about $150 million to help stimulate the economy. Not to give people cash grants, but to stimulate certain sectors especially agriculture and light manufacturing.”

PM Browne noted that it has become increasingly difficult to pay public servants and the government’s coffers have been further strained by its obligation to subsidize various statutory entities.

He said the St John’s Development Corporation needs in excess of $400 thousand a month to be able to pay employees.

On the issue of cash grants, the Prime Minister remained adamant, saying it would add to the country’s growing debt.

“If we have 20 thousand people unemployed right now and we have to provide them with a cash grant of $1500 that’s $30 million a month to pay salaries and wages and we have to give that by way of grants, how are we going to pay public servants?”

 

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