The government has put together, what Prime Minister Gaston Browne says are several incentives to help alleviate the high cost of living and to further empower residents.
In his Independence Day address, PM Browne assured that by the end of this year, the salaries and wages of public servants will be increased, pending the results of the current negotiations.
This undertaking according to the prime minister reflects the seriousness and commitment of the ABLP government to alleviate the present impact of global circumstances on the well-being of residents.
Additionally, from November 2nd, the government will waive payments on electricity and water bills that were due up to December 31st, 2021, provided that bills for 2022 are paid up.
We will also reduce internet costs for less fortunate students.
The Dollar Barrell Program will also resume on Nov 2, 2022, because he said the government understands that the migrant community, especially from the sister Caribbean countries, who are working and contributing to the nation’s development, are also facing hardship from the impact of global conditions. “We will reduce all immigration extension fees to $150, effective November 1st, 2022,” he said.
And the government will also waive all outstanding property taxes on residential properties, due and payable up to Dec 31, 2021. Additionally, we will grant a 10 percent discount to all those who pay their property taxes for 2023 early.
“And to continue the empowerment of our people, especially our young people who want to start up businesses of various kinds, we are adding a Venture Capital Component to our existing Entrepreneurial Development Program (EDP),” he said.
The sum of $1 million has been placed in this new mechanism and its purpose is to provide capital, as a Government stake in viable business projects submitted by individuals, the prime minister added.
The injection of this capital, according to him, will give the business the chance to start-up, expand and take off successfully.
“If it turns out to be profitable, the individuals can buy back the government’s stake.
We are launching this new initiative because were recognize that traditional lenders and investors are risk-averse, hence potentially profitable, new enterprises may go underfunded. We want to give our people, particularly our young people, the chance to prove their entrepreneurship and gain the success they want,” Browne added
He said all the added measures are geared at safeguarding and advancing the interests of people, in the firm belief that, together, we can meet any crisis, and prevail.
“This is the resilience of the Antiguan & Barbudan people which is second to none.
The compact that we, as a governing party made with the people of our one nation, is that we will honor and respect the confidence that you placed in us to manage your affairs successfully.
We are doing so, as the evidence shows. More remains to be done,” he added.
The vexing issue of water supply that has frustrated many residents has “come a long way and full satisfaction is within sight”, Browne said.
“Water supply has come a long way and full satisfaction is within sight. The last Reverse Osmosis Plant whose components have begun to arrive will be installed in the first quarter of 2023 and will provide a further 3M gallon of water daily. The piping, re-piping, and water conservation program will also be done concurrently, thereby ensuring water sustainability”.
And, “electricity delivery has also significantly improved, and we know that there is still more to be accomplished. To this end, a 40 megawatts LNG electricity plant is being installed at Crabbs and will be operational by their quarter 2023,” he added.
The ABLP government according to Browne is” fixing our country’s problems steadily and progressively. And, we are doing so, despite all the odds of high costs, reduced revenues, and increased expenditure on housing, education, health, roads, and social empowerment and improvement,”.