ST. JOHN’S, Antigua and Barbuda – 1st January, 2018……Prime Minister the Hon. Gaston Browne has expressed pride in the people of Antigua and Barbuda for their resilience over the past few months as the country grapple with the effects of the passage of two hurricanes, one which decimated the island of Barbuda.
In his New Year message to the nation, Prime Minister Browne said that despite the challenges, the country and its people were able to rise to the occasion and hosted the Cuba-CARICOM Summit and the OECS Parliamentary Assembly.
He also commended Antiguans and Barbudans for the confidence they have shown in his government and the country by the high level of economic activity over the Christmas period.
“The well-being you felt was noticeable in the large number of shoppers and in the camaraderie that abounded everywhere. It was noticeable to all, that our economy continues to grow; employment continues to increase; and our prospects continue to improve. Your ABLP administration is working. Antigua and Barbuda is working,” the country’s leader pointed out.
He however stated that there is more to be done and his government remains committed to the development of the country’s economy.
“We accept that more jobs need to be created, especially for our school leavers. You can rest assured that they will be created from the plethora of public and private sector investments that are taking place in our country. Private Investments are ongoing to include: The Calvin Ayre US$25M Informatics Centre at Woods, Sunwing’s US$75 renovation and expansion of the Royal Antiguan Resort, US$50M Marriott Autograph Hotel at Yeptons, the Callilou Cay hotel At Morris Bay and the expansion of Nonsuch Bay, Tamarind Hills and Verandah Hotels,” he said.
Prime Minister Browne also pointed to the St. John’s Port Modernization project worth US$90 million, which is scheduled to start on January 15th. He noted that this project will be the single largest public sector investment undertaken by any government, past or present and will facilitate the transformation of the facility into a regional transshipment port.
He further stated that a further $80M will be invested in 2018, to construct a fifth Tourism birth, at Point Wharf, to accommodate the Oasis class ships, in time for the next cruise tourism season.
“My government will invest $250M to repair and expand the road network throughout Antigua & Barbuda in 2018. Presently, we are investing $50M to build a new airport runway on Barbuda which will be completed by September of 2018. Barbuda will also benefit from a further $125M to assist with the rebuilding of homes, public institutions and infrastructure, as well as a green energy solar voltaic plant. The latter will make Barbuda the first totally green island in the Caribbean,” PM Browne stated.
As part of the investments schedule to come on stream in 2018, Prime Minister Browne said that the West Indies Oil Company will continue to expand its tank farm and will invest an additional $45M this year.
“These and other investments will result in an unprecedented level of growth in 2018. Economic Growth in 2018 is projected to exceed $400M or 10 percent of GDP. This would be the strongest real, organic growth, in the history of the country, that was not driven by an external event, such as Cricket World Cup,” he stated.
Prime Minister Browne also stated that the people of Antigua and Barbuda can expect a record economic performance once again, to emerge as the fastest growing economy in this hemisphere in 2018.
He said that at Half Moon Bay where government has paid down the debt of US$48 million to under US$20M, the Replay Group, will commence demolition of the derelict structure and will begin construction of a new hotel by the third quarter of 2018. In addition, Paradise Found will commence demolition shortly and construction of the US$250M resort in Barbuda, later in 2018.
“The future of Antigua is bright. Young people particularly will be given opportunities to begin to climb the ladder of their own success, and to reach down and pull others along with them,” Prime Minister Browne stated.