Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Fellow Citizens and Residents of Antigua and Barbuda
Once again the hapless UPP regime blames the Labour Party.
Despite the fact that the UPP has been in charge and mismanaging the economy for six years and four months, Harold Lovell, the Minister of Finance, says the woeful state of the nation is the Labour Party’s fault.
His is a sad and empty refrain.
And everyone knows that it is a desperate plaster to try to cover a very large sore caused by the UPP.
They know – and you know – that they have no answers for the economic problems their policies have created.
If they did, they would have implemented them and you would have been better off.
It is the UPP that went on a borrowing spree over the last six years and four months; it wasn’t the Labour Party.
It is the UPP that frightened away investors causing the economy to contract; it wasn’t the Labour Party.
It was the UPP that imposed income tax and government sales taxes that took money out of people’s pockets; it wasn’t the Labour Party.
It was the UPP that squandered over $1.5 billion that they took out of your pockets, with nothing to show for it.
Not a new job.
Not a new sustainable project.
Not a new hotel.
Not new infrastructure.
The truth is that in its first two years in office, the UPP lived on the success of projects started under the Labour Party; it has been downhill ever since.
Harold Lovell says that I do not acknowledge there is a recession.
He is wrong.
I do acknowledge that a recession hit the world last year.
But the economic morass into which we are sunk today began long before the recession.
It did not start with the recession.
The UPP is now trying to hide their obvious shortcomings behind the recession.
The recession has merely exposed even more starkly the failures of the UPP regime to manage the economy properly.
Further, other countries are pulling out of the recession, but not Antigua and Barbuda.
When the financial institutions collapsed in the United States in late 2008, the Labour Party warned that the UPP had to put in place immediate programmes to safeguard the economy.
The Finance Minister at the time, Errol Cort, told this nation that we were talking rubbish and that if there was a collapse in the US, we could rely on tourism from Europe.
He said the nations had nothing to fear.
So, the UPP did nothing.
Even when we warned that the contagion would spread to Europe because the toxic assets offered by US financial institutions had to be spread into Europe,
Errol Cort and the UPP dismissed us.
Cort’s statements are a matter of public record and they stand as testimony to the UPP’s failure to put measures in place to mitigate the fallout that was bound to come.
In fact, the UPP spent its years in office borrowing money and increasing the national debt.
Every few months, the regime was boasting that they had issued more bonds at high commercial rates of interest.
They were boasting about borrowing to prove somehow that borrowers had faith in their supposedly superior governance.
Again, the truth was that most of the bonds were taken up by financial institutions in Antigua who now face the real danger that the UPP regime cannot repay them.
And, where institutions outside Antigua and Barbuda bought the bonds, they only did so because they were backed by the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank.
Now, the UPP regime had to go to the IMF for a loan that is packed with conditionalites to pay foreign creditors.
Imagine, the UPP has borrowed money to pay back money they borrowed.
They are borrowing from Peter to pay Paul.
And, they think that we are all so stupid that we would believe that this is a good thing.
Harold Lovell asks if the Labour Party is against paying local contractors with the money the UPP regime is borrowing from the IMF.
The answer is that the Labour Party wants local contractors paid, and we want them paid first.
But, we want to see measures in place that would maximise the use of our assets to earn the country revenues from which we can pay our people.
And, you and I know that the UPP has no plan for the restoration of the economy and the reigniting of economic prosperity.
When they were busy borrowing money to spend on wasteful projects, the Labour Party warned them that projects had to be sustainable and revenue earning in order to pay back the debt.
They ignored us.
So, the national debt stands at over $2 billion that we know about – a debt that has reached this huge number because of the UPP’s mismanagement.
We know that the UPP has also incurred what is called “off balance sheet” debt. That is debt that they have hidden in public corporations or government-registered companies, but nonetheless it its debt that has to be repaid.
And the only answer they have to the dire circumstances into which they have plunged us is to blame the Labour Party that has not been in office for six years and four months.
The bankruptcy of the UPP regime is fully exposed.
But, you must ask yourself:
Did the UPP not impose income taxes on you when Baldwin Spencer pledged that they wouldn’t?
Did the UPP not inflict government sales taxes on you when Baldwin Spencer promised they would not?
Are you not now talking home less money than you were when the Labour Party was in office?
Are you not now worse off now than you were when the Labour Party was in government?
Is the cost of living not higher now than it was then?
Is unemployment and poverty not greater now than it was in March 2004, when the UPP took hold of the government?
Is crime not now higher than it ever was under the Labour Party government?
My friends, Harold Lovell is brass-faced to try to tell you that you are better off under the UPP than you were when the Labour Party was in office.
The facts – and your own experience – speak for themselves.
You know what you have to endure today to make ends meet.
Let me say a word about debt under the Labour Party.
Yes, the Labour Party incurred debt.
But the debt was incurred for projects that were obvious and still serve our country well to this day.
We built an international airport.
We built Heritage Quay.
We built the finger pier that allows so many more cruise ships to come into our harbour.
We built a telecommunications infrastructure.
We built all weather roads to connect up the country; to make road transportation easier and swifter for locals and visitors.
We made Antigua a venue for International Test Cricket with the Antigua Recreation Ground to which the UPP had to revert when their incompetence led to the shameful abandonment of the poorly kept Sir Vivian Richards stadium.
We built the Royal Antigua Hotel which the UPP regime gave away to one of their political campaign supporters for a song.
We built the Mount St John Medical Facility that the UPP left to languish for five years, and then opened only because their folly in neglecting it and making it available to the people of this country, could no longer be prolonged.
We also rebuilt the economy six times in five years when our country endured six hurricanes between 1995 and 2002.
The UPP had not one storm with which to cope.
The point is that the debt the Labour Party incurred was for projects that serve our country to this day, giving people employment and sustenance.
The projects earn government revenue and contribute to our gross domestic product.
By comparison, the UPP has burdened our nation with huge debt and there is nothing to show for it but that eyesore of an unfinished car park, high crime, high unemployment and growing poverty.
My friends, Harold Lovell’s statement – as everything that comes from the UPP – demonstrates that they have no answers but to blame the Labour Party.
They are a bankrupt group unable to devise and implement a plan for growing our country’s economy.
I call upon them to move aside and let a tried and tested team, with a proven track record of success. Get on with rebuilding our economy and restoring prosperity.
The UPP is only prolonging the agony by continuing to squat in the offices of government.
They would be doing our people a service for the first time if they would get on with by-elections or general elections so that our nation can be relieved of them and the burden they place on our country.
I remind everyone that the Labour Party’s leadership is made up of successful businessmen, experienced trade unionists, professionals in banking, finance, and law, and competent negotiators.
Ours is a broad Church inclusive of experience, expertise, youth, energy and knowledge.
We are ready to put these skills to work immediately to turn our beloved country around.
But, on the eve of by-elections or general elections we will give the UPP no ideas for, in the past, they have stolen our ideas and implemented them badly.
Right now, it is time to get rid of the UPP who cannot mend the economy that they broke, but are trying to fix the electoral process to cling on to power.
We are ready for by-elections or general elections.
We know that you want to be freed of the UPP.
We know that you want the economy to repaired, and prosperity restored.
We know you want to see jobs, construction, and vitality in the economy.
We are ready to restart that process; to reignite the engines of growth; to re-energise our people and our country.
The UPP losers have squatted long enough.
It is time for them to go.
I thank you once again for listening, and I pray God’s blessings on us all.
Friday, June 4, 2010
According to the statement of claim filed in the High Court, Baptiste deliberately uttered the defamatory words on 22nd April 2010 at a public Town Hall meeting in Piggott’s, and subsequently in an interview reported on the news website Caribarena.com
The Baptiste allegations of illegal behaviour surfaced in light of the judgment of Hon. Justice Blenman on 31st March 2010, in which she declared that the election to the House of Representatives of the Prime Minister, the Hon Baldwin Spencer, and that of two other members of the United Progressive Party (UPP), namely Jacqui Quinn-Leandro and John Maginley, was invalid.
Michael expressly denies ever having spoken the words attributed to him by Baptiste, on the alleged occasion or on any occasion at all.
Attorneys for the St Peter MP believe that in their natural and ordinary meaning the words meant and were understood and intended to mean that the judgment was delivered as the result of a criminal offense and that the claimant was a person responsible for and with knowledge of this.
As outlined in the Statement of Claim, the UPP Government Minister’s "words therefore imputed a criminal offence committed by the Claimant (and) were further calculated to disparage the reputation of the Claimant in his calling as a politician and elected Member of Parliament.
“By reason of the publication of the said words, the Claimant has been seriously injured in his personal reputation and in his calling as politician and elected Member of Parliament, and has suffered embarrassment and distress.
“Unless restrained by this Honourable Court, the Defendant will further publish or cause to be published the words complained of or similar words defamatory of the Claimant”.
Michael is confident that the Court will uphold his claim against Baptiste. He wants:
Damages for Slander in respect of the statement made on 22 April 2010;
Damages for Slander in respect of the repetition of the statement to the representative of the news internet website Caribena.com on or about 27 or 28 April 2010;
Damages for libel in respect of the publication on the website Caribena.com from 29 April 2010 and ongoing;
An injunction to restrain the Defendant whether by himself, his servants or agents or otherwise howsoever from further publishing and/or causing to be published the said words or any similar words defamatory of the Claimant.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Baldwin Spencer whose seat in the Antiguan and Barbuda Parliament has been declared vacant by the court, is promising to plunge the country into religious war better known to the global campaign against terrorism as a “JIHAD” through which he wants to start “CLEANSING”.
“I want to say tonight right here at Green Bay School in the constituency of St John’s Rural West, from tomorrow the situation change… We have had enough… and from tomorrow, the war will start… I don’t know how much longer I have but for whatever period remains we are going to have to deal with the situation… All joke stop now… And I am saying to my ministers we have to prepare to take action in all their ministries…
“Brother and sisters, this is war… I am in a fighting mood tonight… When it’s time for war, it’s time for war… I am saying it’s time for war… This is a just war, this is a religious war… I am serious, I am very serious… We must do what we have to do… the real fight is on… And as of tomorrow, we are going to begin the process of doing what we have to do… the process of cleansing will start tomorrow… that is the promise I am making…”
The angry and hopelessly out of control Spencer, spoke at an April 2010 town hall meeting in Green Bay
And he brought Errol Cort to justify waging war on public servants because the UPP believes they are ungrateful to be supporting the return of the caring governance policies of the Antigua Labour Party. Imagine that!
The poor people of this constituency need the basic necessities of food, clothing and shelter for their families… they need jobs… they need proper education… they need reliable health care… they need to break free from the suffering and pain they have been forced to endure under the uncaring and incompetent UPP regime… they need to be able to afford the burdensome cost of living that Baldwin Spencer has punished them with… They are crying out for help, they want the government to ease up on the hardships that condemn them to greater poverty with every passing day… And all Baldwin Spencer can offer is more hatred of Lester Bird, Gaston Browne, Asot Michael and the Antigua Labour Party… and the angry cry of war
You cry out for peace… Baldwin wants war
You cry out for justice… Baldwin wants war
You cry out for an end to crime and violence… Baldwin wants war
You cry out for food on your table… for money in your pockets… Baldwin wants war
He has deprived you of millions of dollars that could have been spent for the benefit of the people of this constituency… He corruptly used those millions of dollars of the people’s money to hound us in the courts for the past five years. All he has to show for this outrageous abuse of public funds is a series of defeats in judgments of the court that confirm he is recklessly wasting the people’s money to finance his agenda of hate and his obsession with war
With every chest beating declaration of war, this man is hopeful that he can use the power of the state to intimidate us into submission.
He dreams… For, we are not afraid… The Antigua Labour Party is not afraid. As the song says: “If dem ah come let dem come… Labour is protected by the Most High One…”
The only man who is afraid is Winston Baldwin Spencer.
He is afraid because the courts have spoken… his election last year was invalid… null and void… in other words he is now relying on legal technicalities to hang on for dear life to a seat he did not win
He is afraid because the people have spoken… the people have said, loud and clear, that he can’t run the country and so he must give the leadership back to the Antigua Labour Party
This great Deceiver knows the Black March marked the beginning of the end for his trickery and deception of the proud people of Antigua and Barbuda particularly the extremely patient constituents St John’s Rural West.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
When the decisions in the Elections Court were delivered yesterday, March 31, 2010, the Honourable Judge attached certificates to her written decisions which were placed within a carton, and were intended for delivery to the Speaker of the House of Representatives. The certificates are essential in concluding the cases and ensuring that all steps -which the law commands- have been taken by the Judge. Those certificates have been stolen and cannot now be found for delivery to the Speaker of the House.
The ALP condemns this unlawful act by person or persons unknown. One petitioner has written to the Commissioner of Police, informing him of the theft and declaring his willingness to share additional information with the Police in order to trigger a criminal investigation of the missing certificates.
Since the United Progressive Party has had its slim majority in the Parliament reduced to a minority, by the ruling of the Judge on Wednesday afternoon, person or persons unknown have conspired to delay the implementation of the decisions.
The ALP condemns this criminal act and seeks the assistance of the Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda.
The ALP has also begun the drafting of the necessary documentation to undo the ex parte order of Justice Harris who, on Wednesday afternoon, granted a stay-of-execution to the UPP respondents following oral arguments within his chambers. The lawyers for the ALP were not invited to attend the hearing. The ALP is of the view that the Judge does not have the authority to grant such an order. Those papers to reverse the Judge’s order will be filed on Tuesday morning following the end of the Easter holidays.
Monday, April 5, 2010
Every now and then, the political landscape in our island democracies is visited by a rare breed of politician who epitomizes the spirit of service above self, who devotedly places his possessions at the disposal of those in need, who “walks with kings but never loses the common touch”, and who gets things done by “keeping his head about him” even as others are “losing theirs and blaming it on him”. One such politician is the down to earth man MP Asot Michael
Since March 2004, the blessing of that extraordinary brand of political representation has been in the hands of the people of the St Peter’s constituency in the man Asot Michael.
“I give thanks and praise for my beloved constituents with whom I have been privileged to develop a personal bond built on a solid foundation of love and mutual respect for each other that transcends narrow, partisan politics”.
In all he does in politics and government, Asot Michael operates with a passion for excellence, a hunger for results and an uncommon love for people, their well being and progress.
“I have always been that way… Politics has always been in my blood I grew up in a family where my parents and grandparents were always looking out for people and wanting to see them succeed as well as they could. My father Patrick Michael sacrificed his business in support of the Antigua Labour Party during its darkest days in the 1970’s. And the Michael generation before him was even more involved in the socio-political life of Antigua and Barbuda.
“So I guess as far as it concerns politics and working with people, I have just been living the values I picked up from my family… Then there were all the valuable little lessons I learned from some of the best politicians in Antigua and Barbuda like Papa VC Bird, Lester Bird and Tim Hector. But I think the most important thing is that I really enjoy what I do…” Says Asot Michael
Indeed, to see Asot leading a convoy of trucks through every street in the constituency personally delivering Christmas and New Year goodies to every family is to be up close with a politician in peace and harmony with his purpose.
And when MP Asot Michael rises in Parliament to articulate concerns about the good and just governance of Antigua and Barbuda, it is crystal clear that the darling of St Peter’s is not just in tune with his people development mission but also destined to ensure it succeeds.
“The people of this country know that they were better off under the ALP and it is their money the UPP has recklessly taxed out of them to create the UPP version of heaven on earth – the fattening of big government from the sweat and toil of poor people"
“So the people who came first with Labour have actually ended up last under the UPP and we have to change that… We have to return to the good old days of people doing well instead of catching hell”.
As a Minister of Government Asot Michael demonstrated critical competencies and emerged as one of the most successful government negotiators on major investment projects and assistance programmes. With his excellent people skills he was able to build a valuable network of political and business leaders from around the world which remains a reliable resource for translating global contacts into advantages for Antigua and Barbuda.
Apart from the simple truth that he is a caring, down-to-earth people’s person, his rapidly growing army of fans around Antigua and Barbuda admires the fact that Asot has distinguished himself as a man who gets the job done in the public interest regardless of the difficulties encountered in the process.
As one elderly resident of Parham put it, “Others make excuses, Asot makes it happen”.
One of Asot’s main strengths as a politician is his proven ability to define and articulate the next level of advancement for the people he represents. Accordingly, and given the UPP engineered reversals in the welfare of the people since 2004, he is knows better than anyone else there is tremendous work to be done.
Under the incumbent’s leadership, this constituency has led the way in recent years in privately funded facilities for sports, recreation, computer technology and food delivery. Asot Michael has also been exemplary in using his own personal resources in the causes of less burdensome cost of living, proper infrastructure, crime reduction, adequate health care and education throughout the constituency.
Asot Michael's vision is fundamentally about economic transformation capable of generating the opportunities that will allow constituents to do better for themselves, their families and their loved-ones
- Modernization of the physical landscape (residential and commercial properties, infrastructure) throughout the constituency.
- Establishment of a proper foundation for investments in the tourism of the future, particularly in the emerging residential tourism niche market to create a platform for lasting economic and employment opportunities.
- Establishment of model eco villages/communities utilizing renewable energy as a tourist attraction and as an example of the future direction for Antigua and Barbuda and the rest of the region.
Asot Michael, the ALP’s candidate for St Peter’s is anxious to move ahead with the party’s plan to modernize local government across Antigua and Barbuda through the creation and introduction of high performance community committees/councils working in collaboration with the Parliamentary Representative to discharge the day to day responsibilities of constituency development.
The principal target areas for the work of the community committees/councils will be economic and business opportunities, safety and security, infrastructure, human development and social affairs.
Visit Asot Michael Main Website