Antigua & Barbuda

No Mischief with Barbuda Aid – PM Browne

Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne
No Mischief with Barbuda Aid – PM Browne

Prime Minister Gaston Browne wants to assure the public that there are adequate safeguards in place to protect the monies donated for Barbuda’s reconstruction from any abuse by his government.

The matter was raised by Opposition Leader Baldwin Spencer during the questions period of Tuesday’s sitting of the Parliament. Spencer sought clarity on the amounts received, how they are being used, and the process by which decisions are being made about what to spend on.

In response, Browne said that Samantha Marshall, the social transformation minister, is tasked with getting a comprehensive report from the National Office of Disaster Services (NODS), the lead agency on the disaster response and reconstruction efforts.

However, he did offer some preliminary information.

“In terms of resources that we’ve collected so far, the accounts that we had set up, three different accounts, we would have collected to date about EC $10 million, $2 million of which would have been utilised, I believe, in payments so far.”

However, the PM said there were a number of outstanding payments to be made, which he believed would amount to millions of dollars. These include contracts for the clean-up effort on Barbuda. According to Browne, “There’s no opportunity for any mischief” from his ministers since they are not directly involved in the payment process.

“So those payments, just to explain the process, they are authorised by NODS, then sent to the Cabinet for ratification. After the Cabinet ratifies the payments, then they go to the Ministry of Finance for payment by treasury officials or Ministry of Finance officials. 

According to Browne, there is a “watertight and transparent process in place.”

“We have also agreed to the appointment of an external auditor to audit the payments and to give periodic reports, and that is why I am undertaking here to let you know that as soon as practicable there will be a formal report tabled in the Parliament.”

A number of donations have been made directly to the United Nations Development Programme for the reconstruction efforts, such as the U.S. $3 million from China and India.

Spencer queried whether there was any input from Barbudans via their council or otherwise in determining the priority areas to be addressed to which the PM responded in the affirmative. He explained that there were several committees, which included Barbudans, but he added that he did not believe public consultations with the wider populace were necessary.

“In order for them to resettle in Barbuda there must be electricity, there must be water, they must have homes to live in, they must have a hospital, they must have schools, common sense issues. We don’t need to go and have a consultation to determine what

these priorities are,” he stated.

However, Browne did acknowledge that they planned to have consultations with Barbudans as it relates to the medium-to long-term plans for the island, which includes a more climate-resilient Codrington.

“Now, that in itself requires significant consultations compared to repairing somebody’s home. I mean, what’s there to consult about? What they want is speed to get their homes repaired so they can move back over.”

Last month the government outlined a 60-day plan to speed up the resettlement of Barbuda residents on the island with a late January target to have a significant number of them back home and public institutions back in operation.

According to Browne, everything is being done to hasten the process, but manpower remains a problem.

The World Bank has estimated that Barbuda’s reconstruction will cost some U.S. $222 million.

Source/Antigua Observer

Click to add a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in Antigua & Barbuda

Fiscal Deficit Stands at $100M – Antigua and Barbuda PM

December 22, 2017

Third OECS Assembly Concludes With Climate Resilience as a Priority Issue to Address

December 20, 2017

Gaston Browne Floats Possibility of Another Immigration Amnesty

December 18, 2017

Antigua PM: Blacklisting Looms Over Different Onshore, Offshore Tax Rates

December 13, 2017

VI CARICOM Cuba Summit Concludes With New Agreements

December 13, 2017

Antigua: Minister Asot Michael Will Be Election Candidate

December 12, 2017

CARICOM Chair Calls for United Position at WTO Ministerial Conference

December 9, 2017

Caricom-Cuba Summit Opens Today in Antigua

December 8, 2017

Antigua-Barbuda: Replacement For Michael ‘On Standby’ If Charges Are Brought

November 24, 2017
You Can Advertise Here
"The other side of the news!"
Copyright © 2015 Carib Flame. Follow us on Twitter @caribflame