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Spencer appeals for more support


CAROL MARTINDALE, [email protected]

Spencer appeals for more support

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ST. JOHN’S, Antigua – The ruling United Progressive Party (UPP) has marked the second anniversary of its second term with Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer appealing for continued support for his administration and the country.
“Things are not 100 per cent. We are not perfect, but the government that I lead is working hard for you, the people,” Spencer said in a radio and television broadcast on last night.
“We know where we are going. There is a national plan and an economic blueprint that, as the Government, we are working from. Again I say, the country is in safe hands, and I will never let you down, or let the country down.”
Saturday marked two years since the Spencer-led government was re-elected to office.
The Prime Minister said the UPP was elected to office in the midst of a devastating global recession and residents should understand the serious challenges which have accompanied the global economic slowdown.
But he said his administration remains committed to keeping residents abreast of the many efforts being made to ensure that the country remains stable, the economy is strengthened, and that prosperity for all is assured. 
“With every passing day, our resolve to work even harder, in the interest of the people, is fortified. With every new obstacle that we boldly confront, our pledge to serve you, the people, with vision and humility, is renewed,” he said.
“I want to assure every Antiguan and Barbudan that our country is in the safe, steady hands of people who are committed to the mission of protecting the nation and achieving prosperity for all.
“Two years into our second term of office, all Antiguans and Barbudans can be proud that their Government has repaired the country’s image in the international financial community.”
The Prime Minister said that earlier this month the country received the assurance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that, up to the December review, the government has met all the financial targets under multi-million Stand By Agreement (SBA).
“While others have criticised the Government for entering an agreement with the IMF, that agreement has been good for Antigua and Barbuda,” he said.
“Under that programme, the Government was able to use more than US$95 million of the US$110.4 million received from the IMF and Caribbean Development Bank in 2010, to make payments to local contractors, merchants and businesses.
“In addition, as a result of the fiscal consolidation programme, our Government has been able to ensure that all employee and employer contributions due to Social Security, Medical Benefits and the Board of Education for 2010 were paid,” he added.
Spencer said that Antigua recently completed agreements with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the US Export Import Bank to settle loans that were contracted by previous Governments of Antigua and Barbuda between 1967 and 1983. 
He pointed out that these loans were never paid back.
He said that discussions have also been concluded with the Dutch Government for the settlement of a debt contracted 23 years ago.
“Our honesty in dealing with our international financial obligations has also resulted in the full cancellation of Antigua and Barbuda’s debts to the United Kingdom Department for International For International Development (DIFID).
“This debt forgiveness, which we successfully negotiated, has increased our ability to channel some scare resources into social programmes for our people,” The Prime Minister added. (CMC)

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