Browne optimistic A&B’s growth will be revised upward to 3.5 per cent

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Prime Minister Gaston Browne said he not only expects a regional body to revise the country’s growth figures, again, but to revise them upwards.

Prime Minister Browne said despite the negative forecast of the country’s growth rate from the Economic Commission of Latin America (ECLAC) he believes that Antigua & Barbuda will record some of the strongest growth in the region by year’s end.

Speaking during Monday’s sitting of Parliament, the prime minister said he believes ECLAC will be forced to revise its forecast again.

“Now, by the time they would have gotten all the information, all the capital flow that come into this country and the fact that the second half would have been better, I believe strongly that by the end of this year we would have posted 3.5 per cent,” he said.

ECLAC’s earlier prediction of a 5.4 per cent growth rate had put Antigua & Barbuda at the top of the class in regional growth for 2015-2016. Even though Browne admits the country will miss that target, he said Antigua & Barbuda will still come out ahead of many of its regional neighbours.

“Three and a half per cent in the current dispensation, that is, in many instances three or four times more than what other Caribbean countries are doing.”

Browne’s prediction has come in contrast to a recent report from ECLAC that the economy would only see 2 per cent growth this year, down from earlier predictions of a growth rate of 5.4. He said many of the plans that contributed to that earlier projection have since stalled.

“ECLAC had suggested that we’d grow about 5.4 per cent based on our economic projects and it was done on a reasonable basis. It is true that several of those projects have been tied up. At least one is in litigation, in another the community said they don’t want the project and the others are still going through the design stage, developing the drawings and so on, and these things take time.”

“We are of the firm view that by the end of the year they will have to revise that growth number again because we believe that we’ll do about 3.5 per cent …”

“In fact,” he said, “last year, due to various strategies we introduced we were able to do 2.8 per cent and we believe we can exceed that.”