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PM Browne Voices Strong Objection to Antigua and Barbuda being named as a Tax Haven

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua and Barbuda – 23rd June 2015…….In a strongly worded letter to Ambassador Mikael Barford, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Prime Minister the Hon. Gaston Browne has documented his government’s impassioned objection to Antigua and Barbuda being named by the Commission of the European Union as a “tax haven” in a list published on June 17.
Calling the naming unjust, Prime Minister Gaston Browne said that his government totally objects to the implication by Pierre Moscovici, the EU Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs, that Antigua and Barbuda is a “non-cooperative” jurisdiction. The country’s leader further stated that the EU Commission and Commissioner Moscovici have done considerable harm to Antigua and Barbuda and many other countries named on the list in flagrant disregard of known facts about the jurisdictions.
“In the case of Antigua and Barbuda, the jurisdiction has been found to be in compliance with the highest international standards of transparency and exchange of information as set by the Global Forum of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) of which EU countries are members. Indeed, since the publication of the EU list, the OECD Global Forum has disassociated itself from the action of the EU and underscored the fact that it is their assessment which is the relevant assessment for the purposes of determining a country’s cooperation in tax matters,” PM Browne’s letter read.
It was also made clear that Antigua and Barbuda has been found to be fully compliant and cooperative with international standards established by the Financial Action Task Force on whose decision-making councils EU countries sit. The letter also pointed to the fact that Antigua and Barbuda has signed Tax Information Exchange Agreements with a significant number of EU members and that no request for information by a EU member state has ever been declined.
“In the circumstances, my Government regards the criteria by which Antigua and Barbuda has been named on the EU list of “tax havens” as fatally flawed,” PM Browne outlined in his letter.
According to the EU Commission, Antigua and Barbuda was included on its arbitrary list because 10 EU members named the jurisdiction as ‘non- cooperative’. The 10 EU countries have been identified as: Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal and Spain.
“These are countries with which Antigua and Barbuda does little or no business. Antigua and Barbuda has not received any requests for information from these 10 countries that it has refused. It is also significant that the EU countries, such as Britain and France, with which Antigua and Barbuda does significant transactions, did not name our jurisdiction,” Prime Minister Browne pointed out.
The country’s leader while asking for his government’s objection to be made to the EU Commission by the swiftest means,said that “In damaging the reputation of Antigua and Barbuda – and many other Caribbean countries that appear on the extremely defective list – the EU Commission may well have infringed the terms of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the EU and Caribbean countries.”
In registering his government’s strongest objection to the EU list, Prime Minister Browne called on the EU Commission to apologize for the damage it has done to the jurisdiction of Antigua and Barbuda and to publicly rescind the flawed and injurious list.

Antigua and Barbuda Defence Force (ABDF) Officer Graduates from the US Coast Guard Academy

CAMP BLIZARD, Antigua and Barbuda  – June 23, 2015……..The Chief of Defence Staff Colonel Sir Trevor Thomas and Other Ranks of the Antigua and Barbuda Defence Force have extended special congratulations to Sub Lieutenant Trevor Travis Pennyfeather.

IMG-20150522-WA0003Sub Lieutenant Pennyfeather recently graduated from the prestigious US Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut, USA where he pursued a three-year Bachelors Degree Programme in Management along with his Officers Basic Military Training.

Sub Lieutenant Pennyfeather received his certificates from United States President Barrack Obama who was the featured speaker at the Academy’s 2015 Commencement Ceremony. Also in attendance was the Chief of Defence Staff of the Antigua and Barbuda Defence Force, Colonel Sir Trevor A. Thomas, KCN.

Sub Lieutenant Pennyfeather is the son of Major Trevor K. Pennyfeather and  Mrs Carol Pennyfeather.

The Degree Programme is a fully funded scholarship provided by the US Military.

MINISTER ASOT MICHAEL RESPONDS TO REGIONAL REPORT ON SOLAR ENERGY APPLICATION

Hon.Asot Michael

Hon.Asot Michael

The Honorable Asot Michael, Minister of Tourism, Economic Development, Investment and Energy has responded to a recent report in the media indicating that Antigua and Barbuda was among a number of Caribbean States or Caribbean Community (Caricom)that were allegedly “not ready for solar energy”.

Minister Michael noted that “this could hardly be further from the truth in the case of Antigua and Barbuda” and pointed out that “in the first place we already have approximately 1MW of installed solar energy capacity in Antigua and Barbuda. More fundamentally we have undertaken a major policy initiative through the enactment earlier this year of the Renewable Energy Act. The Act has been developed by a team of regional and international legal and energy specialists and adopts various international best practices, and forms a part of an OECS wide effort to update the regulatory structures for energy within the sub-region”.

The Renewable Energy Act (2015) provides for the establishment of the legal, economic and institutional basis to promote the use of renewable energy resources and for connected matters. Among its provisions are the establishment of billing mechanisms for renewable energy, the establishment of a Renewable Energy Fund, and the requirement for establishing of targets for renewable energy application in Antigua and Barbuda.

Minister Michael suggested that the report mentioned in the media may have based its findings on Antigua and Barbuda on outdated information and he noted that the new ABLP administration had immediately taken a proactive approach to renewable energy development as a part of its commitment to modernize and develop the Antigua and Barbuda economy.

The Minister noted in this regard that “As a major element of our renewable energy thrust, we have entered into a project for installation of 10MW of solar photovoltaic energy, targeting at this stage primarily major government consumers such as the airport, hospital and the government office complex. This is a joint project with APUA and as we go forward we will be intensifying our efforts to ensure that the benefits of the present revolution in renewable energy technologies are harnessed for the benefit of all energy stakeholders including consumers and the utility”. The Minister indicated that the government had also removed all import duties and charges on renewable energy technologies as a part of its efforts towards promoting renewable energy development in Antigua and Barbuda.

The Photos with PM and Permanent Secretaries retreat at the Verandah Resort over the weekend

Prime Minister Browne attends CDB Board of Governors Meeting in St. Kitts and Nevis

ST.JOHN’S, Antigua and Barbuda – 19th May 2015……Prime Minister the Hon. Gaston Browne left the country on Tuesday for Saint Kitts and Nevis for the 45th Annual Meeting of the Caribbean Development Bank’s (CDB) Board of Governors taking place on May 20 and 21.

Under the theme, ‘Facilitating Growth: Transforming Regional Logistics Infrastructure and Encouraging Youth Entrepreneurship,’ the meeting brings together Governors, Directors and other representatives from the Bank’s 27 member countries.

During the event, CDB will release its Annual Report, Development Effectiveness Review and Special Development Fund Report which provide a comprehensive look at the Bank’s performance in 2014.

Speaking before departing for Saint Kitts and Nevis, Prime Minister Browne applauded the high level of probity, accountability and performance of the CDB and extend congratulations to the Board of Directors in the conduct of its strategic oversight role on behalf of the Board of Governors, and to the management and staff as they execute their functions accordingly.

The country’s leader also congratulated the Bank on securing a revised “stable” rating from Standard and Poor’s in the Agency’s latest report, which also affirmed CDB’s “double A” status on its foreign currency rating.  He also revealed that Antigua and Barbuda will continue to accord the CDB “most Favoured creditor” status, irrespective of the country’s fiscal challenges.PM Official

During the meeting, two major studies will be released entitled: ‘Making Air Transport Work Better for the Caribbean’ and ‘Youth are the Future: The Imperative of Youth Employment for Sustainable Development in the Caribbean.’  Two seminars exploring the findings will also be staged, with panelists drawn from civil society, public and private sector.

Prime Minister Browne is accompanied by Financial Secretary Whitfield Harris to the meeting.

The Opening Ceremony, lecture and seminars will also be broadcast live on the Annual Meeting’s dedicated microsite, www.caribank.org/BoG45 commencing from 9 am Wednesday.

Chair of the CDB is newly elected Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris.

Position of Antigua and Barbuda on Gender Equity in Education at world education Forum

UntitledINCHEON, Republic of Korea – 19th May 2015…….Education and Science and Technology Minister the Hon. Michael Browne will on Wednesday present Antigua and Barbuda’s position on Gender Equity in Education at the World Education Forum being held here in the Republic of Korea under the theme, “Equitable and inclusive quality education and lifelong learning for all by 2030. Transforming lives through Education.”

michael browne

Michael Browne

Minister Browne, speaking ahead of his presentation outlined that while the trend in most countries worldwide show that women and girls have not benefited equally from education and training and their access to education opportunities falling behind that of men and boys, the complete opposite is true for most countries in the Caribbean and Antigua and Barbuda – our boys are underachieving and are facing interrelated and cross-sectoral challenges preventing them from reaching their full potential, even when they have equal access to education as girls.
He added that in Antigua and Barbuda’s context, society places significant emphasis on ensuring that girls remain in school and receive full access to education. The opposite is true for boys. In many cases, he said, there are inadequate role models for educated boys and men, thus contributing to limiting the educational and professional ambitions of boys and men.
“While recently we have seen a steady increase in our boys excelling in education, it is my belief that more needs to be done by society, policy makers and social partners in ensuring that our boys and men receive equal attention to transition through all levels of education available to them. I will be asking my colleagues to share their experiences to better inform Antigua and Barbuda’s efforts in ensuring that our girls and boys equally access the opportunities available in education.
The Education Minister who is accompanied by his Director of Education Mr. Clare Browne will join his colleagues from the United Nations in New York, Republic of Korea, Mauritania, the President of Population Council in New York and the Chairperson of the Federation for African Women Educationists for the thematic debate.
The World Education Forum 2015, which runs until May 22 is organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea

Opening Remarks by the Hon Gaston Browne at a Cabinet Consultative Forum

Opening Remarks by the Hon Gaston Browne MP
Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda
           on 18th June 2015
at A CABINET CONSULTATIVE FORUM
St. John’s Antigua

asot michhael caricom1

Chairperson
Honourable Ministers
Permanent Secretaries
Commonwealth Secretariat Staff
Facilitators

Let me first thank the organisers, especially the Commonwealth Secretariat for organising this timely retreat with Permanent Secretaries and Ministers
Just over a year ago, Antigua and Barbuda reached a crossroads in the journey of its economic and social development.
The economy had been on a steady decline for a decade.
I do not say this to score a cheap political point.
Everyone in this room – Ministers and Permanent Secretaries – know that what I have just said is the truth.
You all know from the reality of what the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party Government inherited that the Treasury was empty; the debts were large; the outstanding bills were huge; investment had dried-up; our domestic banking system was under severe existential threat; and our economy was stagnant.
Even essential services that the government is duty-bound to deliver, such as water and electricity, were on the precipice of disaster.
Suppliers of water, fuel and electricity to the national system had already decided to sever supplies to the government.
You will recall that even before I appointed the Cabinet, I had to negotiate urgently with suppliers so that both the domestic and the business sectors could continue to function.
Beyond the parlous state of the economy, the welfare structure was broken.
This nation was on the very edge of failure to deliver critical health and education services.
Unemployment was high, and the prospects for our youth was dim,

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Let no one doubt that the situation was dreadful and set to worsen.
As both Prime Minister and Finance Minister, I know better than many how close our country was to catastrophe when my political party was elected to take hold of the reins of government.
And, let me be clear:
The dire circumstances of the country were due in part to the effects of the global financial crisis of late 2008.
But, they were not due to the global financial crisis alone, as was suggested by the then governing United Progressive Party.
A far greater contributor to the bad and worsening condition of the economy and its poor capacity to deliver goods and services to the nation, were ill-judged fiscal and economic policies by the last administration.
The poorly thought-out policies of the UPP government – if they were thought-out at all – brought Antigua and Barbuda to economic ruin and near fiscal collapse.
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Colleagues, I mention the shoddy performance of the UPP administration because I want us to learn from it.
I need hardly remind you that those who fail to learn from the mistakes of their predecessors are destined to repeat them.
We must not repeat those mistakes.
We must learn from them.
I will not here explore the many policy failures of the UPP government.
This evening, I want to focus on only one failure and that is the decision-making and implementation policies.
Small countries, such as ours, lack the human and financial resources of larger ones.
We have to do more with less.
And, we have to work harder if we are to compete with those better endowed than we are.
At the heart of this is good and strong government.
You will note I say “government” and not “governance”.
The two are integrated but separate constructs.
There cannot be good governance unless there is strong government underpinned by good communication, hard work and goodwill.
When I say “strong” government, I do not mean the term “strong” to be heavy-handed or authoritarian, I mean it as responsive, organised, active and thorough.
In order to govern successfully; in order to deliver the goods and services that the people rightly expect, the government must be capable, systematic, and well-structured.
Part of the problem of the UPP administration is that its government had no unified vision and no unified implementation machinery.
The rivalries and tensions between ministries crippled the government’s capacity to function properly and to deliver the goods and services they were elected to deliver.
That is why we need joined-up government, not a government made up of separate ministries, each pursuing its own agenda.
We need – and must have – a government that is a sum of its parts.
Each part – each ministry – must be a cog in the wheel of smooth and consistent government.
It is in furtherance of that objective that the Commonwealth Secretariat organised and facilitated this Consultative Forum of the top policy and decision-makers in government.
Policy issues must be thoroughly discussed and decisions taken on the basis of hard data and empirical evidence, not on the basis of hunch, guess or instinct.
Once these policies are agreed, then their implementation must be co-ordinated between ministries with goals set in the framework of well-planned strategies.
Our Government is ‘A Can-Do Governemnt.” I hasten to add – not a can do it alone government. We are as strong and as effective as our weakest link. The only way to effectively achieve our goals is by working together with shared ideals and a common vision.
A multi-disciplined, multi-ministry team has to be constructed and every player has to understand his role in achieving the common objective.
Ministers should understand that their role is to set and oversee the implementation of policy, and not to micro-manage every aspect of it.
Permanent Secretaries should be clear that policy management falls to them as the heads of the bureaucracies charged with implementation of policies.
Co-ordination of policy implementation will require collaboration and co-operation across ministries.
Government must become joined-up.
Unless, we have such a government, we will not have good governance, and we will fail to deliver for the people the goods and services they expect.
Good governance will not be achieved by disjointed and incoherent government.
Nor will it come from policies that are poorly formulated or badly implemented.
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Colleagues, implementation is the key that opens the door to success.
Policies and strategies without implementation are as useless as idle talk.
Application, activism and action are vital necessities of good government.
They are the criteria by which drive “good government”, and ultimately good governance.
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For me, there should be three E’s by which performance is judged – Excellence, Efficiency and Effectiveness.
Tax payers who visit or call government departments or statutory corporations have a right to expect prompt attention and proper service.
It is time sloppiness in government service ends.
Ministries must be measured by their output.
Have policies been set?
Have strategies been implemented?
Is there machinery for judging performance?
Are the people’s interests beings served?
As the person elected to head the management of this nation’s affairs, those are the questions to which I will require answers from Ministers and Permanent Secretaries.
Government must function, government must perform, government must deliver.
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At the crossroads that Antigua and Barbuda confronted a year ago, I chose to pull us up from the precipice of decline upon which we were dangerously hanging.
I chose instead to climb a hill of economic growth and social improvement, and I set that as the underlying principle by which my Government would advance.
But, I know that to march up that hill requires good governance, and that good governance is not possible without good, capable and coordinated government.
Over the last year, we took the first hard steps of that march.
Now we must bind ourselves together for the big push that lies before us.
I know that you all share:
my determination that this government will deliver;
my ambition that we will do so together; and
my vision that we will transform Antigua and Barbuda into an economic powerhouse.
So, colleagues, let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.
And, let what we learn from this Forum inform our considered actions for the future, in the interest of our country and our people.
Finally, when people work together there is little that cannot be achieved. According to Jean Paul Sartre, French Philosopher – “Take an oar and start rowing.” Lets row to distinction, victor as we create a regional economic powerhouse.

Thank you.

PICTURES OF CABINET CONSULTATIVE FORUM ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA

Gallaries of Ministers and Permanent Secretaries retreat

Antigua and Barbuda-a beach for every day of the year

Antigua and Barbuda! Beach is the beginingRead more..