Prime Minister Gaston Browne has said that he could be forced to demit office if the country had no other option than to approach the IMF to borrow funds.
Such is Browne’s extreme aversion to the usual requirements that the IMF has of countries to whom it lends.
As the country continues to move towards economic recovery, Browne remains adamant that standing on its own two feet is a better option for Antigua and Barbuda than approaching IMF.
Countries like Barbados and even Dominica have had to borrow from the IMF in recent times. Many have questioned the potential impact of those arrangements on the local population.
But Browne said recently that going it alone can be more beneficial to the nation than asking for that particular support.
“When you are in a tight situation you have to fight your way out of it. You get better value and better performance. This lazy approach is that you just go and get IMF cheap money and you just sit on your laurels. That is what happened under UPP. Year after year the economy contracted so there is no evidence that the IMF money, we got in 2010 helped to energize the economy or create any sustainable growth,” he said.
Adding,” but you can see that under my administration, by literally fighting our way out of it, by controlling expenses and being prudent with our fiscal management and attracting more investments, that we were able to systematically reduce our debt to GDP,” he said.
The Prime Minister also expressed scrutiny over the IMF’s Resilience and Sustainability Trust (RST), which is marketed as a program to – quote – “help low-income and vulnerable middle-income countries build resilience to external shocks and ensure sustainable growth”.
“I am not a fan of the RST. I think certain countries within CARICOM fought for it so they can get more money. The conditions are such that you have to be on an IMF program. I don’t see why the IMF would want to create a new trust so other countries can benefit and still insist that you have to be on a formal IMF program,” Browne said.
He explained it [RST] precludes countries like Antigua and Barbuda that are philosophically opposed to entering into a formal IMF program.
“I believe that the program should have more flexibility. I feel as though the fight coming from CARICOM did not include that component. The majority of the countries that spoke on that issue are more concerned about getting additional monies. Me, I am not a fan of it. I think it is structured badly and the IMF needs to look at that trust again and make it more flexible,” he said.