A Sovereign Fundamental Right

Make the rich richerThe UPP's rush to the World Bank (WB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for saving grace did not make economic recovery any better.

A fiscal program was set up to squeeze the social life out  of the people so that bankers can get heavy return on their investment. Very rarely has the WB/IMF nexus of economic conditionality proven itself to be good for development. It is great for investors' returns. Take for example what occurred under IMF guidance- -liberalization of  APUA Telephone and privatization of The Royal Antiguan Hotel.  On the other hand IMF Public Private Partnerships (PPPs ) was commonly accepted by the former ALP government, for example Antigua Power Company (APC), and  Enerserve (Water). In essence the economic goal of the  Antigua and Barbuda government is to make the rich richer!

Similarly a well-expressed sentiments in the book Globalization and it's Discontents by former Chief Economist of the WB and Nobel Laureate Joseph E Stiglitz corroborate with clear analysis and insights the Bretton Woods Institution disastrous impact on developing countries  '..the net effect of the policies set by the Washington Consensus has all too often been to benefit the few at the expense of the many, the well-off at the expense of the poor. In many cases commercial interest and values have superseded concern for the environment, democracy, human rights, and social justice' (Globalisation and it's Discontents by Joseph Stiglitz)

Undoubtedly, Antigua & Barbuda rights to control public resources for the benefit of the masses is a Sovereign fundamental right, but to politicize public resources for political benefit is not! There is a need for wide-ranging public consultation and public information on all future Government undertakings. Many are now calling for an end to absolute authority over tax concession, Crown Land leases and sales to foreign speculators, privatization of public assets, and procurements! Thereby separating the politicians from having conflict- of- interest and misusing public funds for private gains.
Self-enrichment was one reason why PM Lester Bird promise to sell publicly held assets lacked sincerity. Bird's decade-old commitment was a red herring to appease the IMF, since he understood the marketability of social institutions. Bird, won elections after elections by politicizing public resources, employing supporters to Government jobs, building an employee-dependent power base, while disregarding SOE development. Controlling public resources assured compliance and votes for the ALP and corporate monopoly of Government procurement. Also, it can be argued the culture of that resource monopoly is carried on by the UPP government from March 23, 2004. Both are aware "...they can politicize public resources and they fail when privatizations put the state's fiscal power out of their reach" (The Political Economy of Authoritian Single-Party Dominance - Kenneth F.Greene)

National Interest vs Self-Intereat

Why should people be asked to vote every five years, but denied their fundamental rights to participate in the decision-making process? It is clear to me that we as people have to wake up and demand better leadership, more public accountability that ensures legal consequences to those who plunder the public purse regardless of political persuasion. Blind party loyalty is destroying Antigua and Barbuda's economic future. "When" shall we learn that national interests must be given priority to self interests, party interests and the interests of a few economic buccaneers?  Both the UPP and the ALP administrations have function as conduit of poverty for the people. Under both administration, locals businesses and professionals are marginalized, while foreign interests tied to the political elites made billions.This situation is no longer sustainable. If it continues, it could lead to more criminal activity and bloodshed. The practice of bad business and
 foul politics is destroying the soul of our beloved country, Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA) Business Water Unit is another foul political practice and sordid example.

An earlier remark in the Antigua Sun on Tuesday July 4, 2006 by APUA Water Manager John Bradshaw stated: "It will take just under 5 million gallons per day in terms of total supply and our forecasted demand is 5.2 million gallons, so we're just short about 300, 000 gallons per day"
A few days earlier on Friday June 30, 2006 the same paper noted Enerserve daily supply of water to APUA increased from 1.8 to 2.5 million gallons per day (mgpd). Furthermore, Enerserve Vice President Bill Hairless evaluate increasing the company's water production to 3.5 mgpd by purchasing two additional Reverse Osmosis (RO) valued US$3 million by the end of 2006.

Correspondingly, the Antigua government proposed purchasing three RO unit for US$6 million with a capacity of producing only 630,000 gallons of water per day (gpd) was baffling. Stanford Development was featured as the seller and exalted for rescuing APUA : 'Stanford Rescues APUA, supplies 3 water plants'  by Nikisha Smith ( Antigua Sun Thursday December 7, 2006)
The rescue came with an inflated price tag, public voices were raised questioning this 'ratta-trap' deal. Soon after, the initial amount was reduced and later publicized as an error. Where are those RO today?

According to APUA website two RO plants installed at Ffryes Beach produces 600,000 gallons of water per day. However, APUA figures of 600, 000 gpd was corrected by the Managing Director of Caribbean Water Treatment Ltd, Mario Bento: "Installation was completed in April, 2011 on a second 750,000 gpd capacity RO desalination plant for the Antigua Public Utilities Authority at Ffryes Beach, Antigua."  (Caribbean Desalination Association (CaribDA)

A year earlier in 2010 Crabbs Peninsula Desalinating Plant was sold to Sembcorp (Antigua) Water Ltd.  Plus authorization was given for additional RO, bringing Sembcorp capacity to 3.1 mgpd or 55 percent of the water supplied to the general public. Whereas, Antigua RO plant at Ffryes "....only operate when the need arises" Antigua reliance on desalinated water for water supply should have changed this mentality. The politics of poverty continues, prize public assets was privatized superseding the interest of the many. Again private capacity interest gains, the nation got 'no seed' How did government-owned Crabbs Peninsula end up as Sembcorp (Antigua) Water assets?

Beginning in 1992 the Government of Antigua signed an agreement with Enerserve to supply 500,000 gpd from the Crabbs Desalination Plant. The RO plant at Crabbs was designed, built, owned, and operated by Enerserve, to be eventually sold over to the APUA. The opposite occurred, Veolia Water of North America acquired Enerserve via it's acquisition of USFilter in 1999. Prior to US Filter acquisition in 1999 -U.S. Filter -Enerserve added two 700,000 GPD SWRO units to its Antigua plant which increased total capacity to 2.6 MGD (1) Thereafter Antigua asset continuously changed hands;  from Veolia Water North America to Cascal in 2009, subsequently Biwater 'divested its remaining stake in Cascal to Sembcorp'  Sembcorp is a multinational company, their sole interest is to delive long-term shareholder value and growth. (Global Water Intelligence Vol 11 Issue 6  (June 2010)  (Working with Water December 17, 2009) (The use of desalination plants in the Caribbean. Docum ento Técnico del PHI – LAC. Nº 5. Caribbean Environmental Health Institute)

The Politics of Poverty

The hundred of millions paid to Enerserve-Sembcorp from 1992 up until now is the continuation of the Politics of Poverty. Currently there are roadblocks in APUAs path to success, the privatization of Crabbs Peninsula RO plant, lack of political will and as much as EC$700 million owed to APUA. APUA has pointed an accusatory finger at Government, Statutory Corporation and Private Companies owing 57 per cent of  the EC$700 million outstanding:  the government of Antigua & Barbuda $330 million, Statutory Corporations $19 million. Private companies $50 million. (Threat of protest over APUA warning March 24, 2012)

Overall, APUA is under-capitalized, the complexities of APUA Funding on March 12, 2004, the lack of accountability, and the liability owed to RBTT Trust Ltd of Trinidad are other challenges to APUA sustainability. APUA was subsequently sued by RBTT Trust Ltd, the lawsuit states that APUA repeatedly failed to make quarterly payments in September and December of 2006 and March 2007:  The total of the judgment in the High Court of Justice in Trinidad against Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA) for the matter known as APUA Funding is US $13,724,872 ( The Daily Observer April 23, 2010) (3)

Most recently APUA Water Business Unit financial dilemma continued, Sembcorp sued APUA for nonpayment of outstanding water bill. As of the end of February 2013 'APUA owes Sembcorp EC$20.3 million for water provided over the last two years' A court order has mandated APUA to pay Sembcorp US$240,000 per month (The Daily Observer- Water Company Demands its Money March 15, 2013)

The myriad of multinational companies operating in the Caribbean indicate the potential of the marketplace and their self-interest in serving the global US$500bn market. Soon water will be traded as any other commodity, standpipes will become extinct, and it's predicted the next war will be will be fought over water. The former ALP Government allowed control and the give-away of Crabbs Desalinating Plant, now the burden of expense is left for the people to carry. The delivery of water to the masses is subsidized from APUA revenues, now that has dried up, what happens next is not known. The Government of Antigua should continue their investment in RO technology adopting a 'structural approach to the implementation of desalination' . In addition, safeguarding future public assets, sustaining community rights access to water, and implementing the recommendations from the many reports- Integrated Water Resources Management!

Kwame Nkosi Romeo

See related stories:

Bad Business and Foul Politics

Reporting by Caribarena news, publishing by Ofer Shaked.

Hits: 6360

5 Comments In This Article   



#5 Jewel » 2014-02-06 09:00

This is the pattern throughout when the IMF/WB is involved. The poor get poorer and the rich get richer. Bolivia faced a similar situation, however the people stood up against what they perceived as injustice.



RE: A Sovereign Fundamental Right

#4 Jewel » 2014-02-06 08:56

Privatization of water took place in Bolivia (Cochabamba), at the behest of the IMF. The IMF's model of divide and conquer works every time.




#3 DR DREDD » 2014-02-06 08:41

How could the IMF have dealt with this UPP government when no one knows Antigua's true debt? This government has illegally and in clear breach of our Constitution borrowed billions of dollars and not one of these loans has come to Parliament.
How then did the IMF lend money without knowing the debt the country has? How can the IMF deal with a government that is in clear breach of the law? Is it that the IMF will do anything just to control poor, underdeveloped countries?


None better than none. Need UK to investigate.

#2 Parishman » 2014-02-05 10:24

Great article....Politicia ns really make fools of some people. They borrow so much money in the name of ANU/BAR and then enrich themselves through their cronies who usually gets to secure contracts; when and how can we stop this cycle?


@Kwame Nkosi Romeo

#1 Pensioner » 2014-02-05 08:06

Great article. Pot Works Dam could help out if properly developed. In the end, I want the government of Antigua and Barbuda to prevent waste and please leave the funding to respect poor peoples Sovereign Fundamental Right to receive their little hard earned pension.


Add comment

Follow us on Facebook

Spotlight on Education

Previous Next
Govt to give Two Uniforms
Antigua St. John's - Minister of Education Dr Jacqui Quinn-Leandro has confirmed...  Read more

Latest Opinion Pieces


Android LogoDownload Caribarena's Android App Click To Download

Find us on Twitter!