Government anticipates economic growth once SOE is lifted
By Makeida Antonio
A government official has indicated his intention to proceed with the removal of the current state of emergency (SOE), once the Covid-19 Omicron variant no longer poses a significant threat to the country.
The Prime Minister’s chief of staff, Lionel Hurst, told Observer that Prime Minister Gaston Browne is due to take the matter to Parliament this week.
“The Prime Minister himself indicated on Saturday that in all likelihood we would lift the state of emergency.
“The real decision will be made in Parliament because it was primarily a parliamentary decision to impose a state of emergency,” Hurst told Observer AM yesterday.
For those who have long waited for the return to be able to enjoy constitutional freedoms such as freedom of movement which has been restricted by a nighttime curfew, Hurst has assured residents this will happen after the SOE is dissolved by Parliament.
“Once Parliament votes to lift the state of emergency, the curfew falls, so instead of having to go home at 11 at night, you can stay in the street 24 hours a day. It’s a right that has been suspended during these times of emergency, ”explained Hurst.
The chief of staff believes that the income potential of residents will increase as the emergency conditions begin to wear off.
“As we start to get back to normal, we are seeing an increase in all kinds of activities that will allow the household in Antigua and Barbuda to… earn an amount equal to what they earned before the pandemic,” did he declare.
Meanwhile, the government projects a positive economic outlook for Antigua and Barbuda.
Hurst said that although the Covid-19 pandemic has dealt a serious blow to the country’s economy, which was set to grow 6.75% in 2020 by the US State Department, he remains convinced that the economic collapse complete was avoided by the administration.
“It is obvious that we made the right decision in ensuring that everyone employed by the government continues to receive a paycheck.
“No one was made redundant, no one was taken on leave from the civil service and we paid wages and salaries on time every month,” the chief of staff said.
He also said data regarding the country’s economic growth will be released by the end of the year. Additionally, he predicts that there will be an increase in economic activity in 2022 as things return to normal.
“Cruise ships are just starting to come back. More and more airlines are adding more and more services to Antigua. As a result, we predict that these movements that bring many passengers to our shores will cause them to spend more money in Antigua than they have ever spent before, ”added Hurst.
Figures released in October by the international market data firm Statista project that the country’s real GDP will grow by 7.02% in 2022.