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(ANTIGUA OBSERVER) – Acting Prime Minister, Steadroy ‘Cutie’ Benjamin, is reassuring the public service that salaries will be paid on-time.
In an interview yesterday with OBSERVER media, Benjamin sought to set the record straight on accusations that the government is financially challenged and would be unable to pay salaries on-time at the end of this month.
“You can be sure that when the time comes for salaries to be paid, they will be paid. Barring some sort of situation, salaries will be paid when they are due,” Benjamin said.
He added that his administration comprises competent men and women who are able to carry out their duties even in the absence of the prime minister. He nevertheless said that he was unable to give an account of the performance of the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) since that programme does not fall within his purview.
In the past, CIP revenue has largely been used to pay wages, salaries and pensioners as well as fund various social programmes and the late payment of salaries at the end of June reignited speculation that late payments will soon become a norm.
In October last year, Prime Minister Gaston Browne said that the Citizenship by Investment Programme had been doing poorly. He went on to say that in the two months prior to his revelation, there had only been three applications under the National Development Fund (NDF) option.
Since Browne’s statement, various opposition entities have argued that the government’s finances are in dire straits and therefore the government needs to prioritise its spending.
Public relations officer of the United Progressive Party (UPP), Damani Tabor, recently questioned the priorities of the Gaston Browne administration concerning the allocation of government funds.
Tabor was making his weekly appearance on OBSERVER AM when he responded to the government’s chief of staff, Lionel ‘Max’ Hurst’s comments at Wednesday’s post cabinet briefing.
“To read a statement saying that while other priorities remain unaddressed we are still going to go forward and bail out Deluxe because ‘property is a great thing to own’, that is absolutely … ridiculous and it just shows that the government is not about proper planning and proper prioritisation of interest groups such as pensioners, liquidating debt to public workers, giving public servants their wage increase and internet in secondary schools,” Tabor lamented.