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While the Antiguan and Barbuda economy has rebounded significantly, the head of government anticipates that it will take another two years before the twin island states can return to pre-COVID levels financially.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne is also predicting a bumper 2024 with the country’s hosting of a major conference and other scheduled events.
“It has been a spectacular recovery and we have made an average of 6% per annum since 2021 so barring 2020 when we lost 18 %, we have done very well. But, when you look at it in terms of the net effect of 25% by which we grew the economy over the last three years and the 18 % that we lost we are still struggling.
“So, it will take perhaps another couple of years for us to sully stabilize the country’s economy. So, the fact that we have grown the country’s economy over the last three years there is still displacement,” said Browne who holds the Finance Portfolio.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is predicting the twin island state will become the fastest-growing economy in Latin America and the Caribbean this year and the second fastest growing in 2024. It expects real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the country to grow by 5.5 % this year beyond oil-rich Guyana at over 32% and St Vincent and the Grenadines at 6.0 %.
For next year the agency predicts that Antigua and Barbuda will again emerge as the fastest-growing economy with growth of 5.4 %.
The nation’s leader said the government requires an additional two years to streamline its finances to cover its obligations. He stated that the financial struggles are affecting the party politically as well.
“We have a lot of creditors who have not been paid and even our own supporters are disgruntled so you will find they and their family members stayed away from voting because they did not want to vote against us. But until such time we start to pay them regularly those issues will persist,” Browne said.
He said 2024 will be a good year with the country’s hosting of the conference of Small Island Developing States or SIDS which will bring thousands of people to Antigua and Barbuda, plus another anticipated 35,000 with the hosting of a major cricketing event.