Misreading the Government of Antigua and Barbuda’s Achievements

Misreading How do we examine the United Progressive Party (UPP) Government’s performance for the past 9 years? Shall we approach it with delight or doubt?

I suggest another view-- A dispassionate criticism that considers both the finite limits and the infinite possibilities of nation building. Also we should ask: How do we openly participate in our own development so that we become the active center of progress?
 In response to my recent article entitled “Why PM Spencer is wrong,” one reader pushed back. He offered a list of the government’s accomplishments. I have chosen to include only the most salient parts of our sharing to stimulate serious reflection. I hope this helps us constantly re-evaluate the best path to keeping our eyes on the star and feet on the floor.

Ponder. “Every noble work is at first impossible,” Thomas Carlyle.
The reader:

“Doctor, you could not be more wrong… Your assumption that the policies of the UPP Government has "practically wiped out our vibrant middle class" is bull-pokey.
In spite of the unprecedented challenges the UPP has faced, the Government has delivered. The UPP is committed to putting people first. Please find a modicum of UPP achievements below, that common folks can identify with.
Pensioners now collect minimum cumulative pension of $1150.00 per month. Under ALP in 2003 received just $250.00 per month.
Giving more to pensioners by increasing monthly pensions to $800.00.
133% increase in minimum social security pension to $350.00
Rescuing Mt. St. Johns Medical Center to give better service to the denizen.
No taxes on wheel chairs, prosthetics or hearing aids.
$350.00 per month for folks over 70 who previously received no pension or social security.
Taking care of widows & widowers by giving them 2/3 of spouse's pension.
Senior Citizens get 50% reduction in property tax.
No ABST on medical, Nursing, Dental and Optical services.
$2500 grant for seniors, disabled and needy to improve homes.
Introduced Government residential assistance and care program (GRACE)
No embarkation tax for over 60.
School Meal Program. Over 1 million nutritious meals served 2010.
$350.00 yearly grant for school uniforms for every primary school student.
$500.00 yearly grant for school uniforms for every secondary school student.
National student loan fund offers student s low interest rate loans for higher education
Police protection of women and children a top priority. Units dedicated to training for gender based crimes. Police task force on sexual violence set up.
(STEP) skills training and empowerment program to help unemployed single mothers find jobs.
Widows of pensioners to receive 2/3 pension for the first time.
My good Sir, there is much more...”
I affirmed his central point by probing its measure, standard and assumptions:
“My Dearest Friend (Name withheld),
I appreciate your sage analysis … Is your laundry list a spectacular depiction of the sustainable, humane and prosperous society that Antigua and Barbuda has become under the management of the UPP? …This evidence of national development is boldly detached from poverty reduction. Yet you haven't communicated that it is a matter of utmost urgency for fresh discourse and proper action…  

Nation building boils down to managing complexities in bad and good times, by utilizing the best human capital through innovative capacities available for the concrete improvement of the lives and living circumstances of the masses...
The connections between your list of deliverables and the realities of most Antiguans and Barbudans override the purpose of the higher public good. It fails to detail how our nation is healthier in material wealth, in body, in soul and in spirit. I dare not say that those who uncritically accept our state of affairs as the best that we could have done under the worst of conditions are guilty of the most ludicrous self- delusion…
Developing Antigua and Barbuda can’t be reduced to simple ideas for happy children who are unconcerned about the fragility of our national future which is currently heading for a sure catastrophe…
Let us find a healthy way for each to endeavor so that all could achieve! Remember that truth is a liability to the greedy and the powerful. Truth can only champion a just cause at great cost…
Bright and sunny regard…”
The question, “What sort of development we ought to pursue?” is not settled by simply saying that the UPP did a few things. The government’s actions should align with positive human development. I suspect if the UPP had taken the mistakes of previous administrations as its laboratory to be more caring, resourceful, loyal, creative, determined and daring, the country would be more advanced.
Arthur Burns is right, “In achieving ideals, a reverence for learning and education is indispensable.” We should explore more fully the relevant skills and strategies our leaders need in the 21 century to lead with admirable results.
From my meditation on this reader’s “Do List” I cannot say that the government has made a big difference in the lives of the men and women on the street, and in the wider context of national and regional growth.
Given the broken state of the country, even if one were to add much more to this “Do List” it remains a prism, which reveals and hides heart-wrenching suffering. These include: hunger-induced crimes, joblessness, homelessness, bankruptcy, choking taxes and unmanageable inflation. Add deep psychic pain, especially of so many intelligent young Antiguans and Barbudans, who are forced to live without while their elected officials live in plenty. Worst yet, foreign companies and consultants have gotten millions at the expense of the people themselves.
Only in our view of the future that our past is both condemned and valued.  The people will only get what they demand.  We cannot risk being uncritical in choosing a better future. If we do, we’ll cry later!

Dr. Isaac Newton is an International Leadership and Change Management Consultant and Political Adviser. He specializes in Government and Business Relations, and Sustainable Development Projects. Dr. Newton works extensively, in West Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America and is a graduate of Oakwood College, Harvard, Princeton and Columbia. He has published several books on personal development and written many articles on economics, education, leadership, political, social, and faith based issues.

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13 Comments In This Article   


RE: Misreading the Government of Antigua and Barbuda’s Achievements

#13 Child of the land » 2013-09-20 09:20

I was searching high and low to see just how many jobs they have created. Are the young educated expected to bum money off their senior citizen grandparents?!

Child of the land

@King Court

#12 ANTIGUAN WOMAN! » 2013-09-16 23:16

How is Bachra Mary,s **ment off course? It is actually quite truthfull! Explain where she is off course. As I said before the person is delusional. Mt St Johns is a disaster,the service ** to the core,worse than old Holberton.Uniform grant never happened the way it was stated here. The Grace program they boast about existed before under the ALP,they simply stopped it and started under a different name.$2500 for seniors to repair homes,never happened.More rapes in A,gua over the past 7yrs than ever in history for the same period.Steps program versus youth skills,no difference.ABST we never paid it before,so we could not have paid it on Medical,dental and vision services and if I am not mistaken I paid Abst on my last eye gl**(could be wrong).Senior citizens get 50% reduction in property tax while others pay double than before.School meals and education levy is our money,dont we deserve anything from it? As to pensions,in 2004 minimum pensions were $500,we never paid PIT,we do now,so even it increased by $300 we deserve it.The person who came up with that list should be beaten with a whip from a cattles private part,then taken to clarevue for evaluation.He is Delusional.


RE: Misreading the Government of Antigua and Barbuda’s Achievements

#11 ANTIGUAN WOMAN! » 2013-09-16 22:23

Someone really wrote that list as Govt,s accomplishments? That person is delusion,or She/he must have a problem differentiating between a promise and an accomplishment,he also has a problem between fact and fiction.Rescuing Mt st Johns???? I have not laughed this loud in a while.Dunceness reigns supreme.


RE: Misreading the Government of Antigua and Barbuda’s Achievements

#10 Reality » 2013-09-16 20:27

For a place that hasn't had any real adult supervision for over three decades, things aren't that bad at all.


@ King Court

#9 UncommonSense » 2013-09-16 18:35

Great question. But we cant move forward without understanding our past mistakes. On March 2014, we still have to make a choice between the lesser of two evils. After that, we should come up with a third party. Develop new leadership from new blood. Establish a new policy direction where we design a development model from the inside out. Get our people--the brightest and most wise to participate in shaping a brand new future. Then, work hard for the next five years to get the people's confidence. Once in government, deliver wide and relevant development initiatives.


Whay do you do?

#8 King Court » 2013-09-16 13:37

Bachra Mary, your facts are dead wrong, review the information before you ploiticize your viewpoint. Doc, I agree the government is off course, the people first format failed to empower the m**, the CIP will not produce any better results.

Your analysis was spot on: "I suspect if the UPP had taken the mistakes of previous administrations as its laboratory to be more caring, resourceful, loyal, creative, determined and daring, the country would be more advanced."

However, going back to the past will not save us...only destroy us more, voting for the present will not delive us. So, what do you do?


King Court


#7 Skyewill » 2013-09-16 09:53

I believe you sums it up real well. A lot of time people create good things but not RIGHT things just to say "SEE LOOK WHAT I DID" but is it the way to go. If an Antiguan or Barbudan can not progress with this scholarship in ANU then it is a total waste. The other thing is the current education system at the State college. Are they teaching skill that can be used right in Antigua and Barbuda? It the College ready with the right environment, right tools and qualified professors? Do we send our police officers to criminal justice courses for degreed programs or fire department or EMT staff to continuing education? or look at the bigger picture of having a RADAR in a tourist driven economy. In a developing country where nation building should be a major priority there must be solid base. I would rather have a job where I can put food on my children's table than a lunch program that build social dependency.


RE: Misreading the Government of Antigua and Barbuda's Achievements

#6 SlyThatGuy » 2013-09-16 08:56

The one thing that the UPP Gonernment failed to do that I believe would have produce the best result in eliminating hunger and help our country get through this global crisis is provide public assistance.(unemploy ment assistance for those who lost their jobs )
I put forward the suggestion for consideration long ago and the government did speak about plans for a food program; however,it did not take the appropriate course of action, allowing many citizens to drown in the wave of hunger brought on by the global crisis.


stupid is as stupid does

#5 Microwave Chef » 2013-09-16 08:47

Only a total idiot will stand up and publicly say the UPP has done a good job, unless of-course you mean they have done a good job destroying what the ALP failed to steal.
Reminds me of an abused woman who keeps going back for more "because he loves me" only to be beaten to death in time after long suffering.
That's why the UP has done, they have beaten to death the middle class and wasted millions of $ in bad deals and simple blatant corruption , just look at apua and the WPP. and worse the great leader of the ALP see's nothing wrong with it and he is on record saying so. he even claimed the CIP was his idea ( yes selling our collective birthright was Gaston's idea) and the UPP loved it. I say again only a total IDIOT will say UPP has done a great job and only a total IDIOT will believe the ABLP will fix it.

Microwave Chef

@ Really!

#4 Bachra Mary » 2013-09-16 07:49

i) The UPP more than doubled the Taxes - then proceeded to squander and waste the hundreds of millions of extra revenue!

ii) The UPP has presided over the loss of over ten (10,000) thousand private sector jobs!

iii) There has been no new investment of note for their entire time in office!

iv) Ironically, the Education Levy - for which they protested and "locked" down the country - is what is providing the scholarships of which they now boast! Yet, what they are not saying is that when these successful graduates return home, there is now jobs for them!

v) Of course there is the suspicious "bobol" purchase of the WPP resulting in the continued high cost of electricity to the consumers!

vi) The unfinished car park; The unfinished library; the unfinished transport Board building; the Half Moon Bay mishandling mounting debt; the high rise in murders and crime; the high rise in poverty and we can go on and on!

vii) Then their attempt to de-register the voter's list and gerrymander the boundaries!

Bachra Mary

@ Really

#3 WISE » 2013-09-16 07:07

Getting scholarships but denying young people good paying jobs is an utter waste of human capacity. So you give them scholarships but you give foreigners the million dollar contracts. What you end up with is a lot of educated locals having to leave A&B because the politicians thrive on mediocrity. They want the brightest out of the country.

The UPP hasn't given its own supporters a helping hand. Just look at the social and economic conditions in Villa, Grey-Green shall I say more? What existed before? People had food on their tables, money in the banks, several jobs to go to, and safe communities!

The education is poor. There is so much economic impoverishment, and wanton violence in the street. Talk about technology? The internet connection is so poor. Look at ABS? Way behind God's back in the latest technology.


@ Dr. Sandra Wilson

#2 Really? » 2013-09-16 05:44

What do you mean it does not reflecting putting people first? What existed before? It is obvious that you do not live in Antigua & have not been following developments in the country - kindly do some research in order to ascertain how many young people have received scholarships, & the leaps made in technology, for a start.



#1 Dr. Sandra Wilson » 2013-09-16 04:10

This list of action does not reflect putting people first. I see TALKING POINTS. Where is the DEVELOPMENT? Investments in EDUCATION, HEALTHCARE, ENERGY, GENDER EQUITY, CRIME REDUCTION, TECHNOLOGY, JOBS, ECONOMY, and POVERTY REDUCTION would have been a more convincing list of achievements.

Dr. Sandra Wilson

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Dr.Isaac Newton

Dr. newtonDr. Isaac Newton is an International Leadership and Change Management Consultant and Political Adviser. He specializes in Government and Business Relations and Sustainable Development Projects. Dr. Newton works extensively in West Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America and is a graduate of Oakwood College, Harvard, Princeton and Columbia. He has published several books on personal development and written many articles on economics, education, leadership, political, social, and faith based issue

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