Member of Parliament for St. John’s Rural North began his presentation on the 2022 budget by chiding Opposition Leader Jamal Pringle on his two hour presentation.
Charles “Max” Fernandez wasted no time on Thursday denouncing Pringle for criticising the budget in its entirety, as well as the socioeconomic environment in Antigua and Barbuda, without offering a single meaningful solution.
“I listened to the member from All Saints East and St. Luke’s lamenting how difficult it is for people in terms of jobs and so on, that is his view of it. And not once in that hundred and thirty so minutes, did he indicate one plan or idea towards creating one job. And yet it is so important to him.
“And he’s had such great difficulty with [the budget] – he’s implied that it’s an election budget – you think he’d come with some plans, some ideas, on how [to improve] it.
“[He] talks about diversification, but what are the plans? Nothing!” Fernandez scolded the first term politician.
Meanwhile, Tourism Minister Fernandez has reported that Antigua and Barbuda is one step closer to becoming a home port.
A home port is the point at which a cruise originates.
According to Minister Fernandez, the completion of the fifth berth in St John’s has rekindled the interest of several cruise lines in using Antigua and Barbuda as a home port.
“A home porting incentive package has been developed by GPH (Global Ports Holding) and has been well received by the cruise lines to the point where five cruise lines have indicated strong interest in using Antigua as home port by 2023,” reported Fernanadez.
Home porting would result in significant economic benefits for the country as many passengers will need to fly into the country and stay over ahead of their cruise.
He noted that significant upgrades have been made to the country’s human resources and infrastructure which will contribute to the continued growth of the local cruise tourism sector and the burgeoning plans for an expanded and evolved cruise sector
On Tuesday, Antigua and Barbuda made history when it welcomed a record seven ships carrying more than 5100 passengers. Minister Fernandez indicated that this was a sign of better things to come for the country as in February, the country is set to welcome to its shores more than 40,000 cruise passengers.
Last Thursday during Prime Minister Gaston Browne’s 2022 budget presentation, he declared that tourism was the leading contributor to Antigua and Barbuda being able to record 5,3 percent economic growth in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.