The Cabinet Secretariat of Antigua and Barbuda has responded to criticisms or what it described as, conflict of interest in the Cabinet’s decision to grant concessions that are ordinary in nature to Gaston Browne III, son of Prime Minister the Hon. Gaston Browne.
A Statement by the Cabinet Secretariat read that the Cabinet views the publication of a letter conveying concessions to a private entity as misleading and malicious in nature.
The statement was making reference to the Observer Online Newspaper dated Wednesday 28 June 2017, which published the Cabinet authority conveying its decision to grant ordinary concessions to a duly qualifying individual/company.
According to cabinet, no effort was made by the Observer Newspaper to confirm whether the concessions granted were unusual or extra-ordinary in any way, which they were not.
The Cabinet Secretariat states that the day in question, January 11, 2017, when the Cabinet discussed an application in writing for concessions from Investment Facilitation (Antigua) Incorporated, and agreed to grant exemption from the payment of duty on the importation of building materials and capital equipment, Prime Minister the Hon. Gaston Browne was not present at the Cabinet session.
Whenever an issue is being discussed, a member who has an interest, personally or through family connections or any other declared interest, must recuse himself/herself from the discussions as is the current practice.
The Cabinet therefore advised individuals that Concessions considered of an ordinary nature are routinely afforded to individuals/companies. Such concessions are basic, are not extraordinary and are simply intended to assist existing and new businesses in their operations as the case may be presented.
It further noted that all concessions requested and approved by the Cabinet are done within the purview of the existing laws of Antigua and Barbuda. The concessions in question are available to any business person in any sector from the Investment Authority Act 2006. The cabinet says that the Act does not exclude any category of citizens of Antigua and Barbuda.