Home News Local news Economic Good News in Antigua and Barbuda, Prime Minister Tells St. Croix Crowd

Economic Good News in Antigua and Barbuda, Prime Minister Tells St. Croix Crowd


Nov. 19, 2006 — Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Winston Baldwin Spencer told nationals living in St. Croix that all is well in their homeland and urged them to invest in the Antigua and Barbuda economy.
"The government is endeavoring to govern for the people and by the people," Spencer said Friday evening. "Construction is bursting at the seams, the children have a good education and fiscal discipline has placed our nation on a firm footing. The economic outlook is bright."
More than 200 people attended the event, held in the Great Hall of the Reading Rainbow in Estate Upper Love.
The local Antigua and Barbuda Association invited Spencer to St. Croix as part of its observance of the silver jubilee anniversary celebration of Antigua and Barbuda's independence.
Antigua is one of nine venues for the International Cricket Council 2007 Cricket World Cup, which will be held at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium. The event will provide investment avenues for nationals at home and abroad, Spencer said, as well as posing security challenges for the government. Sections of the newly constructed Mount St. John Hospital will be operational in time for the Cricket World Cup, he announced.
Spencer issued a challenge to nationals living abroad to invest in Antigua and Barbuda. The "business-building bill" provides investment avenues, including business loans for entrepreneurs, he said.
The prime minister came armed with statistics supporting his government's successes, highlighting an 11.23 percent economic growth rate, compared to 5.3 percent in other Caribbean countries.
Regarding public education, Spencer reported that 17,503 government vouchers were distributed to pay for school uniforms, while free hot lunches for students are now available daily. Schools are getting Internet access, and students have received 150 scholarships to international or regional universities.
The government is offering tax credits to businesses that contribute to sports and other community programs, and has reduced customs taxes on essential items.
The island nation still struggles to reduce crime, perpetrated mainly by school-age children, Spencer said. The government needs to "revisit" ending school at 1:30 p.m., he said, because most children are left to fend for themselves.
Antigua and Barbuda gained independence from the United Kingdom on Nov. 1, 1981. "One Family Embracing the Future Together" is the theme for this year's celebration. "This anniversary gives us the opportunity to revisit the pride we experienced on Nov. 1 [1981]," Spencer said.
The prime minister called the anniversary a "milestone": "It may not be a long time in the history of a country, but with all the challenges we've faced, we have survived."
Spencer praised the work of the local association and urged its members to continue working together. The Antigua and Barbuda Association in St. Croix is "invaluable" in assisting nationals to keep their connection with the twin-island nation, he said. Spencer asked that the association work together to reverse its dwindling membership: "Working together, you are better able to influence situations here and in Antigua and Barbuda."
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