Government borrows to pay salaries

Chief of Staff Lionel “Max” Hurst made the disclosure in a post-Cabinet interview with state media Wednesday. Hurst said the Gaston Browne-administration had to borrow $15 million to pay government workers at the end of October.

“That, I think, is the greatest challenge the government faces other than the challenge of creating jobs,” Hurst said.

He did not elaborate on where the funds originated, and attempts to reach Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance Lennox Weston for answers, were unsuccessful.

But a likely source is the Regional Government’s Securities Market (RGSM) where Antigua & Barbuda obtained $20 million through auctioning Treasury Bills on October 8.

Hurst said the Cabinet was very concerned about government’s inability to meet its wages and salaries on time, admitting that it has struggled to do so since taking office.

“We inherited this, and we are five months since the elections of the June 12th, and clearly this problem persists. We know that the way to ensure this problem disappears is to grow the economy of Antigua & Barbuda,” the chief of staff said.

The Treasury needs about $26 million each month for government salaries and wages and other emoluments. In addition, it must find money to pay other obligations to contractors and suppliers of goods and services.

The Browne administration has reported that since taking office it has secured over $3 billion in investment commitments. Hurst said it will take time before these are translated into growth in the economy.


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