A small twin island nation with powerhouse dreams! Dreams that become the vision, guiding the leadership whose passion and determination keep its residents on edge, but moving in the right direction. Prime Minister Gaston Browne continues to utilise unconventional means for an open, small, vulnerable island nation to carve out more space for nationals to become involved in the economic growth and development of Antigua and Barbuda. In his brand of nationalism, the vision is to ensure that whenever possible the people of Antigua and Barbuda are the primary beneficiaries of wealth creation. The approach has been declared unconventional but it continues to reap dividends.
Only a non-patriot would have remained unmoved at the news that the battle over the transfer of ownership of a multinational financial institution has been settled in the interest of Antigua and Barbuda. Only one driven by partisan motives, devoid of national economic development interests, would be able to find negatives in the news that Antigua and Barbuda is the only country in the OECS that was successful in acquiring ownership of a financial gem; a gem which previously repatriated management fees and profits externally and not retained for the benefit of those whose ‘dollars and cents’ were responsible for these earnings. There is resounding and widespread acclamation on learning that local commercial financial institutions now account for the majority ownership of our banking sector.
This could not have been achieved without the ‘gall and gumption’ of the prime minister. The government took the extraordinary step of going against the recommendations of the ECCB and refused to issue the vesting order for the preferred sale, and declined to budge, notwithstanding pressure from all quarters, until the sale aligned with the declared interest of the people of Antigua and Barbuda. Prime Minister Browne’s ability to see issues from an unorthodox perspective to an end which serves the interest of Antigua and Barbuda, has now become a part of the fabric and pathway for our national economic development. The vision is clear and we continue to realise the dream of strengthening domestic banking resilience.
In this instance, Prime Minister Browne stood up and, disregarding his regional colleagues, realised the vision for the future of wealth creation capacity for future commercial financial operations. He was emphatic that the time was at hand for domestic ownership of those assets. He remained resolute, even in the face of plentiful criticism from other experts who lacked the vision necessary to appreciate the importance of taking control of significant assets in the interest of the nation, when many doubted his likely success. This was a protracted twoyear battle where the Cabinet of Antigua and Barbuda stood in unison to defend the interests of the nation’s people. The result is that the people of Antigua and Barbuda are now richer in assets with a stronger foundation for domestic ownership, domestic wealth creation and future economic empowerment.
No one in Antigua and Barbuda can deny this reality. The prime minister’s unique position on many important issues of national, regional, and international importance, even if often out of sync with his regional colleagues, has opened our twin island nation to scrutiny. We have stepped out of the small island dependent cog and will do more to chart a unique path that seeks to advance the empowerment of our citizens and residents. Today, our government continues to stand firmly in the interest of the people of Antigua and Barbuda. Regardless of our political persuasions, we must link hands and join the battle.
The development of our nation requires the ability to think outside of the box, perhaps to even go as far as to toss out the traditional box in favour of pursuing bold, new initiatives that will need strong defense in our interest. Today, we the people of Antigua and Barbuda are owners of a stronger, more resilient nationally dominated commercial banking sector. This was accomplished by unique thinking and unparalleled vision. Even in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and the related economic challenges, our government continues to fight in our best interest as WE the People catch the vision and live the dream