ST JOHN’S, Antigua – A review of the Barbuda economy is in the cards as council members seek earnestly to jump-start economic growth.
The study to be commissioned by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) is expected to outline development plans for the next 10 years.
With the cessation of sand mining and the lack of growth in the tourism sector on Barbuda, the council has become the only employer, leaving most of the residents on the island with scarce employment options.
Council Chairman Kelvin Punter said the council has already made a submission to the central government to initiate the process.
“We have written to the prime minister for him to look into providing the medium whereby a complete analysis can and should be done with the Barbuda situation,” Punter said in an interview with OBSERVER Media.
The chairman noted that over the years, the council relied heavily on the subventions from central government to run the affairs of the council.
He added that if the situation is looked at from a holistic approach and from a professional standpoint, the end result could be positive.
It is hoped that the process could be started by June once the professionals have been identified.
“It’s going to take a little time. We are going to have to look at public forums to sensitise the people as to what it is that we are doing. It is going to take time, but I think it needs to be done and sooner rather than later,” he added.
Meantime, Barbuda People’s Movement senator McKenzie Frank said the time has come for the relevant authorities to reflect on the way they do things where the economy of the island is concerned.
He said it is very critical at this juncture for a review to take place of the finance and economy of the island.
“Things are tight; things are difficult right now, but we have to plan for the future; I think the economy is what is going to turn Barbuda around,” Frank said.
A commonwealth report commissioned in 2002 indicated that while Barbuda faces a number of constraints deriving from the small size of its population and its ecological fragility, it has considerable potential to pursue a development strategy geared to its own needs and circumstances.
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)