WRONG_WOEID WRONG_WOEID

A Very Good Year

Hold it all togetherThe year 2012 will be recorded as a very good year for Minister of Finance, the Economy, Public Administration & Public Information Harold Lovell.

It may fairly be said that there were two bright spots in the shadow cast over the past year by the continuing struggle between the ruling United Progressive Party and the opposition Antigua & Barbuda Labour Party. One of them was the historic decision by the New ABLP to shift the mantle of leadership from the weary shoulders of former Prime Minister Lester Bird and onto the back of the younger, more assertive and far more agile Gaston Browne.



The recent election victory in Barbuda demonstrates that this move has already borne fruit for the ABLP. The shock win was a triumph of strategy, hard work, on-the-ground organization, filthy lucre and the complacency of a ruling party that failed (or was unable …or unwilling) to but its best foot forward. All those factors combined to deliver what amounted to an “electoral coup” in the time-honored manner: at the polls.

After losing the Barbuda Council to the Gaston Browne ABLP the UPP now faces a clearly resurgent opposition with a win under its belt. The icing on the cake for the new leader is that the win was earned without any visible assistance from the chagrined leader emeritus – and despite a vociferous fifth-column campaign being waged by rogue elements in the rear ranks.

The other bright spot is provided by the signal success enjoyed by Finance Minister Harold Lovell during 2012.

Readers are asked not to be alarmed: Mr Lovell is not being lauded for the amazing job he has done in miraculously restructuring the economy, spurring double-digit growth, attracting billions in Foreign Direct Investment, boosting revenue from all sources, or even unfailingly paying government workers on time. Clearly, none of those things happened during the past fiscal year, though any or all of them would have been nice.

Rather, Harold Lovell’s signal success during the year 2012 lies in simply having been able to hold it all together, to keep the whole messy ball of wax that is the Government Sector from falling apart under the stress of what has been properly characterized as an “Economic Tsunami” for Antigua & Barbuda.

The Dollar/Eurozone banking crisis that first choked off and then disastrously reduced revenues from tourism also critically reduced inflows of investment capital. The subsequent bursting of the Stanford bubble produced a corresponding local economic contraction all of our very own. That combination of events forced the Ministry of Finance into a dual programme of raising revenue and cutting expenditure as it sought to maintain fiscal stability without compromising the finance minister’s number one political goal: to avoid at any cost having to “send home” a single civil servant.

There have been some amazing tightrope acts in the history of the circus, but few will have matched the high-wire performance delivered by finance minister Harold Lovell as he wobbled precariously on his unicycle suspended in mid-air, juggling innumerable portfolios, political and budgetary issues while bearing the responsibility of the economy on his shoulders.

Political cartoonists might unkindly depict Lovell tricked out as a circus clown, big blue nose and all – but the truth is that despite all odds Minister of Finance & the Economy Harold Lovell has turned in a workmanlike performance in conditions that can only be termed ridiculously adverse. And he has done so simply by being able to keep our shaky economy, heavily influenced as it is by the needs of the government sector, from coming to pieces. That is all. Many will scoff. Few of the mockers will have had the job to do. All will believe they could have done it better. Such is the nature of politics.

The numbers do not tell a happy tale. A rate of economic growth coming in at 1.6% for 2012 and projected to be 1.7% in 2013 is a far brighter prospect than the 20% contraction experienced between 2009 and 2011. Those numbers alone tell the tale of an immense body-blow to the local economy – one that has seen St Lucia overtake Antigua & Barbuda as the largest economy in the OECS. That blow is one from which we are only just starting to recover: and with a long convalescence to come before lost ground can be regained. The question now must be: Can these “green shoots” be nurtured and strengthened into a full-blown recovery?



It is critical to note that the relative stability of government’s fiscal profile has been hard-earned, largely at the cost of stringent reductions in local expenditure outside of salaries and pensions. The other side to that coin has been significant success in raising additional revenues: just about all revenue accounts are up, owing to a combination of stricter compliance and broadening the tax base. This has enabled the finance minister to boast of a 43% reduction in the overall deficit, though this was achieved also with significant support from the IMF and the CDB.

Harold Lovell’s signal success, achieved with the assistance of an able team of finance professionals, has been to advance a process of rationalizing Antigua & Barbuda’s fiscal profile. Although citizens and residents complain loud and long about being “overtaxed”, the truth is that our inefficient internal revenue systems still leave many potential taxpayers out of the net, and endemic corruption drains needed revenue. This is the message implicit in remarks by the IMF Country Representative as he urged greater compliance and a more inclusive tax base.

So for Minister of Finance Harold Lovell, 2012 was a very good year. It was a better year than 2011, for sure. Eyes are now fixed on fiscal year 2013, which has not exactly opened brightly for those government workers whose interests the finance minister guards so jealously. During this year as well, the final US$35M of the IMF Standby Arrangement will be disbursed – beyond that horizon lie terra incognita, the Citizenship by Investment Programme, and the Ciboney Poultry Company.

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12 Comments In This Article   

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true talk

#12 Mammy » 2013-09-19 00:52

Colin is not being sarcastic. He is telling the truth. Antiguans prefer to borrow and not pay back so they can have a good and jolly time.
Madness.
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Mammy

RE: A Very Good Year

#11 blacklist » 2013-04-05 19:17

collin you are sarcastic stop it
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blacklist

RE: A Very Good Year

#10 Fred » 2013-04-02 21:57

Harold Lovell, A monumental failure.
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Fred

Sleeping Beauty & The Medium Is The Massage!

#9 John French II » 2013-04-02 14:38

Notes From A Native Son Of The Rock! Forbes Thought Of The Day: Quote:
Art is a Collaboration between God & The Artist, the Less The Artist does The Better.
This mere voice has shown the Strategems being employed by "The Medium is the Massage". At that time the media expert was engaging all of her wiles to great effect. During the interregnum, in steps Cosby's "Old Weird" Harpist in the Band. With a most fearful run across the Back Street Bridge with the IMF Monster. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fjm9qxRxn-g
The Media Expert is back. She is leading this Strategem - The Medium Is The Massage - together with her old Sleeper Cohorts for the next 346 days.
Tenman, you have exposed The Monster, the IMF's FIscal Adjustment & Austerity Program - A reduction of $522M or half a Billion dollars. Yet many Patriots are clamouring for Retrenchment & Wage Cuts. March 21st Professor Downes - UWI Cavehill Barbados - urged against this citing the Barbados mistake. The Minister was there & Heard. Don't we know of Guyana & Jamaica & the European Disasters. Efficiency is not achieved through Personnel Evisceration
Oh Gad Pray Fuh Mi Picknees!
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John French II

RE: A Very Good Year

#8 app » 2013-04-02 13:44

Thought provoking! or just provoking Antigua people. Must be a full moon. its an opinion piece and you are still entitled to that, in this unfair land but numbers don't lie. UPP has produce the two most destructive finance ministers in the nations history. no where in the world can a finance minister be in charge of an economy that lost over 20% of the wealth and we saying he doing a good job.
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app

hard work cleaning up your mess

#7 tenman » 2013-04-02 08:12

Has to be hard work cutting spending which was 1.2 billion in 2009 (highest ever) by 522 million. I can't help wondering how much of this over 500 million was spent on things which created no value? Then again how much of the amount which remains constitutes waste? Telling is that we do not have access to things like an auditor(accountant in Antigua) general report and the missing yearly audited financial statements. Their absence is synonymous to driving a car without a fuel gauge. Then again, there are those who prefer being ignorant since the truth has political costs.

..
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tenman

Real Observer

#6 Colin » 2013-04-02 08:02

I do my best to write clever, thought-provoking articles - who would read me otherwise?
My people are desperately ill -they only want to hear what they want to hear.
Great - more provocation coming from the smiling sinner!
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Colin

@Real Observer

#5 skyewill » 2013-04-02 08:00

I respectfully disagree that Harold is the worst. it was Mr. "ERROR CAUGHT" sitting up in the Luxury Compartment that handed Harold the dagger with Poo poo pan de handle :eek: I felt so sorry for Harold at the time because I knew he know nothing about Finance. What was even worse he knew more than any other member of the UPP team. But arrogance and failure to bring on board people who clearly know the business with love for country intimidated them. Those wimps were afraid of being showed up and they tripped over their egos. There is 4 possible reasons they put the Chicken dinner and CIP into the 2013 budget. 1. Desperation 2. They took money already and that would be illegal and unethical and I don't believe they would be so low minded (or are they?) 3. DUMB AS DIRT. 4. Really don't give a darn.
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skyewill

Provocation is sin

#4 Real Observer » 2013-04-02 07:01

Colin, while I enjoy reading your articles and understand your clever intention of causing your readers to think, I hasten to remind you that provocation is a sin.
Nothing about Harold Lovell's management of our finance and economy can be deemed a success. He is easily and without competition the BIGGEST failure ever in that position. I wonder how or even if he sleeps at night.
How can 20% decline in the economy, record unemployment, unknown levels of hunger and poverty, late payment of salaries and wages and unbearable and crippling taxes, unaffordable utility bills and degradation of our pensioners amount to a success story? Give me an aspirin and stop provoking the people of this ountry who are all waiting to "dash" Lvell and the rest of the UPP cabal pon dem head come next election.
Colin, as the late Vere Bird jr would say, "joke is joke but damn joke is no joke."
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Real Observer

RE: A Very Good Year

#3 zz » 2013-04-02 06:50

Are we in 2013? :zzz :zzz :zzz :zzz let me go back to sleep :zzz :zzz :zzz
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zz

Harold Lovell’s signal success during the year 2012 lies Pt 2

#2 skyewill » 2013-04-02 05:27

What your foreign consultants do not understand or apply Cultural anthropology to the process.They get paid and take their money with them. One of the things the UPP party is accused of is being insensitive to local Antiguans who are qualification to do the work but is expected to work for less than foreign counterparts or nothing, if they get looked at at all. What is it Harold? I though you said “WE LOVE TO SUPPORT THE LOCALS” (it was the way you said it). thick lips,nappy hair, dark skin what is it? 95% African decent left out will lead to a high crime wave & lack of sense of pride. Another problem so text book. How can a serious budget analysis include maybe income in a working budget? Would you compromise good judgment should a situation arise" It is wrong to include CIP and Chicken Farm in your current budget. This is a Hail Mary move and a gamble and irresponsible but then it’s not your money and you won’t lose anything so why not. PURE MADNESS. Not saying it will not work, even a broken clock is right 2 times a day. Good thing Browne says he will change that.
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skyewill

Harold Lovell’s signal success during the year 2012 lies Pt 1

#1 skyewill » 2013-04-02 05:20

LOOK, Harold is doing no one any favors. If they cut the wage bill two things would happen.
1. Political suicide
2. The total DEATH of the Antiguan economy. In fact this is something the UPP has been playing up as if they are doing Antiguans workers a favor. THERE IS NO WAY THEY CAN DO IT. What is needed is restructuring so the work force can be more efficient. People must be put in places where they can improve the way business is done in Antigua. This move alone can improve the public sector and cause an increase of revenue and decrease waste. IF 1 one full basket, then when applied to other good ideas like putting some of the excess people and creating a civilian back up mission support for the Police and other essential services you will start to see improvement the economy.
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Mr. Colin Sampson

 Mr. Colin Sampson is a Journalist and the host of "The Colin Sampson Show" on Caribantigua TV 

 

 

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