ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Minister with responsibility for the Port Trevor Walker says government can not continue to inject half a million dollars into the financially troubled entity to cover wages and salaries.
According to the minister, on Wednesday, the Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA) suppressed all its services to the authority because once again, it was unable to meet financial obligations.
“What is existing now, we just can not continue because we can not afford it,” Walker said.
“We have outstanding obligations for persons who have retired and we have not been able to meet those obligations and we also have a situation (in which) we opened a voluntary separation package which we could not execute because of the situation,” the minister said.
Port workers, on Wednesday, were told they might have to wait at least another two weeks before the authority gives a definitive answer on whether severance and early retirement package offers would be reopened.
Port management met with workers and their unions on Friday and Port General Manager Agatha Dublin has indicated that the issue would be addressed on July 15.
Walker, who was speaking as a guest on OBSERVER Radio’s Voice of the People, said the present staffing levels at the statutory corporation is in excess of 200, which is a major impediment to its efficient operation.
“At least 90 cents of every dollar that you collect goes into paying salaries and wages so it is very difficult,” the minister said.
“The port must be in a position to meet its expenditure and most importantly, to operate at a more efficient level and we are not doing that right now.”
A report was commissioned and submitted to the board of directors recommending sweeping changes to operations at the statutory body.
Walker has promised that the contents of the report will be made public once it has passed through the trade unions and other stakeholders.
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)