ST. JOHN’S: Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer has assured nationals in the U.S. that the Caribbean nation is in “steady and safe hands” under his leadership, despite the collapse of the Trinidad-based insurance conglomerate, CLICO, and the Stanford Group of companies.
Spencer, who is attending the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), spoke of the many challenges faced by countries in the Caribbean region and concluded that despite the additional challenges faced by his country, the economy remains on a firm footing.
“You are familiar with our home grown system of revitalizing the economy in the wake of a worldwide recession and the double punch created by the collapse of the Stanford Group of Companies and the failure of CLICO (Colonial Life Insurance Company) and BAICO (British American Insurance Company), ” he said during a town hall meeting. “To put all of this into dollar perspective, and I must do so, because many underestimate the effects on the Antigua & Barbuda economy as a result of the collapse of these two companies. Imagine over $400-million dollars disappearing like a puff of smoke from the economy. Also imagine another EC$230.2-million simply disappearing from the economy at the same time. These were the results of the collapse, in addition to over 1,200 persons waking up one morning on the unemployment line.”
However, said Spencer, “despite this triple threat combination of the global recession and the collapse of the two companies, unlike other countries within the region, we were able to avoid some of the more severe fiscal policies that others pursued”.
He said his ruling United Progressive Party (UPP) administration has not reduced the salaries and wages of public servants nor retrenched public workers.
“We did not disband our social programs, others did,” he said. “We did not reduce government pensions, others did. We did not cut or eliminate essential services, others did. Antigua & Barbuda is in steady and safe hands as we continue our efforts to improve the social and economic conditions of all citizens and residents in these challenging times.”
Spencer also urged nationals in the U.S. to continue supporting their homeland and engage the government “in an effort to ensure the continuous development of the country”.