Minister announces plan to help economy

ST. JOHN‘S, Antigua and Barbuda: Finance Minister, Harold Lovell, has announced that the government is developing a National Economic and Social Transformation (NEST) plan to help combat the nation’s economic crisis.

The early measures include addressing procurement practices, the management of government vehicles, the utility of rental quarters and the consumption of energy. Lovell has assured there will be no job cuts in the civil service among the cost-cutting initiatives.

“Over the medium term the process of public sector transformation will have to be embarked upon with the aim of having in place an efficient, cost-effective, client-oriented public service. However, at this point, the government is not contemplating any reduction in the public sector except for the normal attrition.

“It is our expectation that the fiscal consolidation measures will lead to some level of stability towards the end of 2009 and going into 2010 as long as the global situation does not deteriorate further,” he said.

The finance minister said the major components of the NEST plan are a fiscal consolidation program, an economic stimulus package, financial sector stability and a comprehensive social safety net.

“The objective of the NEST plan would be to strategically address our fiscal and socio-economic concerns, fully cognizant that we, as a small and open economy, have limited policy options,” Lovell said.

He added that consultations will be held with the general public, including non-governmental organizations, community based organizations, private sector organizations and with regional and sub-regional partners, as well as with bilateral and multilateral stakeholders.

“The economic conundrum that confronts us requires that the solution be grounded in a national response,” Lovell said. “The Cabinet of Antigua and Barbuda is putting the necessary mechanisms in place in order to facilitate the development and implementation of the NEST plan once we would have completed consultations.”

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