Antigua and Barbuda: Prime Minister Gaston Browne on Thursday announced that his government would be appealing to several European and North American countries in its quest to secure COVID-19 vaccines for the people of Antigua and Barbuda.
“The inoculation of our people against the Coronavirus and its recent mutations is vital to the lives and livelihoods of our people. That is why our Government is working diligently to secure safe and reliable vaccines from reputable sources. We are already part of the World Health Organization’s COVAX program under which we have bought 20,000 vaccines at an affordable price,” noted PM Browne.
He said that 20 000 vaccines are not enough and is therefore exploring other sources of supply.
“In the coming days, we will make appeals to the Canadian, Indian, European, and US Governments to sell a portion of their stocks to us. The coronavirus skips over borders; it does not discriminate against race, age, or religion. Once it exists in any country, it is a threat to all countries. Helping us, therefore, is also helping themselves,” he said.
PM Browne said that his government would press the case for the supply of vaccines, sufficient to achieve a high level of immunity amongst the population.
“As it is in developed countries, such as the United States and European nations, inoculation is vital to subduing the virus, ensuring the health of our people, and rebuilding our economy,” he said.
Prime Minister the Hon. On Thursday, Gaston Browne announced a 1.4 Billion dollar budget with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology receiving the highest budgetary allocation for $143.1 million.
In his budget, Prime Minister Browne highlighted his government’s commitment to improving all levels and modalities of education in Antigua and Barbuda, which he said is a platform for high levels of economic growth.
This budget provides for an overall resource requirement of $1.4 billion. This represents a decrease of 18%, or approximately $300 million compared to total estimates for 2020. This reduction is not due to the government’s reduction in service delivery but the adoption of more efficient service delivery measures. The budgetary and fiscal position points to an overall deficit of 3.4 percent of GDP or $133.7 million and a primary deficit of 0.8 percent of GDP or $30.5 million.