Ambassador Dario Item on Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne Speech to the United Nations

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In his latest message, The Honourable Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, gave his vision of Antigua and Barbuda on what the United Nations need to focus on, especially during these challenging times.

PM Browne presented the point of view of the small Caribbean Nation on the most pressing issues and concerns during the United Nation’s 75th anniversary. The Prime Minister specifically highlighted that the assembly tends to hand out more pledges and declarations as compared to concrete actions.

In our interview with Ambassador Dario Item, the Head of Mission of Antigua and Barbuda Embassy in Spain, he shares that he is one of the many who supports the leader of Antigua and Barbuda in his call both for help and better unification. Ambassador Item also echoes the Prime Minister’s call on how our interconnected world requires collective action.

Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, The Hon. Gaston Browne. Photo from Office of The Prime Minister Antigua and Barbuda

Prime Minister Gaston Browne’s call for collective action

According to Hon. Browne, the United Nations needs to give emphasis on cooperation for global advancement and common goals, as opposed to every country working singularly. Ambassador Item supports the same vision regarding the Hon. Browne’s call for the UN’s support as Antigua and Barbuda stands firm in its resilient efforts to combat the global issues affecting the Caribbean island-nation and its neighboring countries.

Antigua & Barbuda doing proactively doing its part

In his speech, the Prime Minister described the position of his island state with regards to global issues like climate change, COVID-19, and the global financial structure.

Hon. Gaston Browne said, “Yet, even though the countries of the Caribbean are among the greatest victims of the profligacy of others, concerning the creation of climate change and its effects; and, although our economies are among the worst impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, in whose creation we played no part; we are denied a voice in international decision-making and we are subjected unfairly to the will of others”.

This statement comes with dimming financial forecasts for the Caribbean Island State which currently relies heavily on tourism. The Head of State also highlighted that “the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean is forecasting that the Gross Domestic Product of the Caribbean will contract by 6.9% in 2020, because of the effects of COVID-19 on our economies.

Our team was able to gather exclusive insights from H.E. Dr. Dario Item on the delivered message of Hon. Gaston Browne. “As an Ambassador of Antigua and Barbuda, I strongly support and stand in solidarity of the government’s global efforts to strengthen the country’s security and economy, especially to the international community. Personally, I am deeply inspired by the Prime Minister’s message because of its honesty and its direction."

HSH Prince Alois of Liechtenstein and HE Dr. Dario Item, Ambassador of Antigua and Barbuda

Ambassador Dario Item believes that the Prime Minister’s message will ripple through the globe through the efforts of the European Caucus of Antigua and Barbuda Ambassadors and Honorary Consuls. The committee has been leading the advocacy to channel resources and other initiatives across Europe towards the support of the people and programs of Antigua and Barbuda.

Building long-term momentum for Antigua and Barbuda

Meanwhile, the decline in Antigua and Barbuda’s GDP is compounded by the fact that it was building a strong momentum during the 1st quarter of 2020. Prime Minister Browne emphasized how it has affected the country, particularly due in part to the lack of support from the global financial community: “this is eroding the gains of my own country, Antigua and Barbuda where, in January of this year, we were set to attain 6.2 percent growth, in addition to an average growth rate of 5 percent in the previous five years.”

Why the international financial community should step up

The most pressing issue that was brought up by the Prime Minister regarding the unfair policies of international financial institutions. “In the case of my own small country, we have been denied loans from the International Financial Institutions because of the skewed per capita income criterion applied by their policy-making boards. The result has been that, apart from a line of credit from the Inter-American Development Bank, that is yet to be consummated, Antigua and Barbuda has received not one cent from the International Financial Institutions to help us meet the enormous challenges that have brought much larger countries to their knees”, the steadfast leader said.

Antigua and Barbuda stands in unison with others in global goals

The Head of State also expressed his displeasure on the downward path that the Paris Club official debt holders were seemingly coaxing Antigua and Barbuda to tread. “What is worse, with no sympathy for the dire conditions we face, the Paris Club blocked the IMF from considering financial assistance and debt relief, provided to many others, unless we subject ourselves to a program that would lead to an increases debt service burden and even more austere conditions for our people than presently exists. . . That, we cannot do and certainly will not entertain”, the defiant PM Browne said.

Prime Minister Browne also re-emphasized his call for help, especially during these challenging times. He calls upon some nations to re-evaluate their approach as most of the international community seem to look the other way at a time when countries such as Antigua and Barbuda endeavours to keep its own financial independence and sustainable development. All of these while the country stands firm in its approach of collective action towards one common goal.

Ambassador Dario Item echoes the words of Prime Minister Browne quite well: “The people of my country are moving on with resilience, bravely and resolutely.” Dr. Item further explains, "Our Caucus has constantly advocated that, despite our well-planned efforts, Antigua and Barbuda still needs help. The Prime Minister has presented a genuine point of view of our small country and our committee will march on with our collective action and advocacy”.

Ambassador Item agrees with the Prime Minister that now is the time to think more broadly and collectively as well as reimagine all the effective and inclusive global solutions that we can do for the society, and to strengthen the governments, systems and institutions that are actively working towards the same common goal and for all the countries to immediately bounce back after the COVID-19 economic effects.

Antigua and Barbuda is doing its part to combat the global giants' challenging its sustainable development. The international community of financial institutions and countries also have the opportunity to take part in supporting its cause and commitment through a global ecosystem of support involving bilateral, multilateral, and private creditors who share the same bright vision the country has for its people.