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Owen hired

Wade Gibbons

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FORMER PRIME MINISTER OWEN ARTHUR has landed a major job in Antigua.
Speaking yesterday at Hilton Barbados following CARICOM heads’ talks with United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Antigua’s Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer confirmed to the WEEKEND NATION that Arthur had accepted an offer to look into his country’s financial services sector.
“As you know, there have been issues surrounding the FSRC [Financial Services Regulatory Commission] in Antigua and Barbuda and we have asked him and he has consented [to] work with the government of Antigua and Barbuda to provide a road map, first to examine the current situation, and having examined it, to provide a road map into the future,” he said.
Queried as to how long Arthur’s assignment would last, Spencer said he was not in a position to say at this juncture.
He added that would depend on the level of work that was involved. He noted the Antiguan government had not placed a time limit on Arthur’s tenure.
“But I expect him to be getting down to work very shortly,” he said.
Asked whether Arthur would be based in Antigua, Spencer said he would be commuting between the two countries.
“Obviously he will have to spend some time in Antigua, going back and forth. He will be interviewing a lot of people, looking at various aspects as they relate to the laws governing the whole operations, the rules and regulations, and how they match up with the internationally accepted standards,” he said.
Spencer noted Arthur would be required to examine the very structure of the FSRC to see whether it was properly based to meet current and foreseeable challenges.
Antigua’s acquisition of Arthur’s skills is the second occasion in 12 months that a regional leader has sought out his known expertise in economic and financial matters.
Last year Prime Minister David Thompson also invited Arthur to participate in a series of breakfast meetings – along with former Prime Minister Sir Lloyd Sandiford and former Minister of Finance Sir Richard Haynes – to discuss and find solutions for the economic crisis facing Barbados. Arthur, however, declined.
The Antigua economy has been experiencing serious decline over the past two years, forcing the Spencer administration to enter into a programme with the International Monetary Fund.
The Antigua situation has been exacerbated by the international recession as well as the collapse of the investment portfolio of imprisoned American billionaire businessman Sir Allen Stanford.
Sir Allen owned the onshore Bank of Antigua and the offshore Stanford Investment Bank, as well as other major investments in Antigua. He has been accused of fraud in US$8 billion investment scheme.