Workers have nothing to celebrate
ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Opposition Leader Lester Bird has said May Day celebrations this year have found the country in its worst economic downturn and that workers have little or nothing to celebrate.
Bird, whose Antigua Labour Party (ALP) is closely aligned to the Antigua and Barbuda Workers Trade Union (AWTU), said in a broadcast that unemployment “is now at an all time high” and is close to 30 per cent.
“For several years now, young men and women have been leaving school and cannot find a decent job. The few who have found work, are doing “catch-hand” jobs. But, for the most part, young people have to stay in the home of their parents, with no good prospects in sight,” Bird said.
The former prime minister said the Baldwin Spencer government has failed to provide employment opportunities for the young people.
“Never in our history have we seen so many homeless people, never have we seen so many beggars, never have we seen so many school children begging. No amount of propaganda from the government will change that reality, now will it convince anyone who lives in this country. “We all know that every day the cost of living is rising; everyday real wages and salaries have less spending power and that the nation is burdened with taxes.”
Bird said that since last year, the cost of living has risen by significantly but that the real “income of every single person in our country is dropping as a result of personal income tax and the government sales tax.
“Living has become a struggle particularly for three vulnerable groups: the elderly, single mothers and young people. But, no one has been spared the harsh consequences of poor economic policies by the government.”
Bird told listeners that the country’s debt to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) had risen to”well over 100 per cent” and that “taxpayers of this country are paying back the debt at high interest rates because the government failed to negotiate better terms”.
Bird said that the government’s only solution to the economic crisis “into which they have driven us is taxes, taxes and more taxes. (CMC)