PM Browne calls for Closer Collaboration between Government and Chamber of Commerce
Prime Minister Gaston Browne has called for closer relations between his government and the Antigua and Barbuda Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the country’s leading private sector organisation.
In an address to a luncheon held on Thursday at the Sandals Grand Resort, where he was invited to speak to the members on the national economy, PM Browne extended a hand to the chamber for there to be a joint public/private partnership to move the country forward.
“I want to use this opportunity to recommit my administration to working closely with the chamber and certainly all business people in this country. We just got a new mandate, and we recognize that we have to bring all in society together. So, notwithstanding our political persuasions, we all have a contribution to make to national development,” he stated.
He noted that the government had established what he termed ‘a lofty vision’ to transform the country’s economy to a viable entity, making Antigua and Barbudan an economic powerhouse in the Eastern Caribbean.
Turning to the economic performance over the last two to three years, the prime minister said there are positive signs to indicate that the country ‘is well on the way.’ However, he noted that while the government can take some credit for the economic performances, the growth would not have been realized without the contributions of the private sector.
“The public sector contributes an average of twenty percent to GDP, the rest of it is private sector driven. So when we speak of growth in the country’s economy, it is the collective efforts of all of us. Yes, it is my administration that is setting the policies promoting growth and development, but at the same time, you too, as private sector and business leaders, should share in the credit and we share the credit with you,” he remarked.
He pointed to the external environment such as the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine and their impact on prices and other commodities. Despite these challenges, he said the economy had rebounded ‘spectacularly’ thanks to the combined efforts of the public and private sectors.
PM Browne also issued an appeal for more private sector investment in the economy, urging the business leaders not to be ‘riskaverse’ and to seek opportunities for investment, even beyond their core business operations.
He dismissed suggestions that foreign investments attracted better concessions than locals, noting that the law provides equal levels of concessions. However, he noted that the larger the investment, the more attractive the concessions.
He also made a number of suggestions where they may seek to invest, including taking advantage of CIP-related investments.
In closing, the prime minister called for more regular dialogue with business leaders, noting that he is always available to meet with them to discuss areas of mutual concern and benefit.
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