With not much time to go before general elections in Antigua and Barbuda, the main opposition the United Progressive Party Leader Harold Lovell is making some strong demands to the government.
Lovell held a press conference at the Antigua and Barbuda Workers Union on Tuesday, to address what the UPP said were some serious issues, chief among them the increase in ABST reductions days.
The UPP leader said this measure would help to alleviate the hardships that the citizenry is facing.
Lovell said his UPP government introduced the ABST reduction days in 2004, which took effect every December for two consecutive weekends where 15 percent was waived.
“However, since taking office, the ABLP administration abandoned the complete waiver of ABST, instead opting to reduce the ABST percentage from 15 to 5 percent. Last week, the administration announced the ABST reduction would be for one weekend only, instead of the traditional two”, Lovell said.
“In light of the current dire and extreme circumstances, the UPP calls on the government to extend the reduction period from one weekend to four consecutive weekends.”
This, Lovell said, “will provide a much-needed stimulus for the economy resulting in increased spending and circulation of money during these very difficult times.”
The UPP Leader is advocating that the ABST reduction days should begin December 16 and occur every weekend thereafter until January 8, 2023.
“Given the inflationary impact of fuel prices, the road to relief and recovery, during the waning days of 2022, should result in lowering of prices at the pumps,” Lovell said. He further declared, “We call on the government to reduce the price of gasoline by $3.04, to pre-war levels of no more than $12.50, and to reduce diesel by at least $4.59 to the pre-war price of $12.20.”
He noted that the price of crude has tumbled on the world market, dropping from a high of $125 to currently $73.25. This is lower than immediately before the start of the war when the price of crude was $97 per barrel on the world market. At that time, the price of gasoline at the pump was $12.50, and the price of diesel was $12.20.
“At a time when we are witnessing low prices of crude on the world market, it cannot be fair for the government to continue to take in an excessive amount of consumption tax. We are aware this government has collected more in consumption tax than any other administration. We call on the government therefore to have a heart and to give a break to the people of this country by immediately reducing the price of gasoline and diesel,” Lovell concluded.
Lovell maintains that the economy of Antigua and Barbuda needs a stimulus and the people need relief.
With the tagline “Relief, Recovery and Shared Prosperity,” Lovell said Prime Minister Gaston Browne was in a position to offer relief to the struggling masses, as he promised on October 9th that he would receive US$160 million from a bond he had floated, and he would have in hand a further US$25 from the Caribbean Development Bank.
The Political Leader reminded that the Prime Minister promised relief which would flow within 30 to 60 days.