Opposition Legislators In Antigua Boycott Budget Debate

(CMC) – Opposition legislators on Tuesday boycotted the first day of the debate on the EC$1.3 billion budget Prime Minister Gaston Browne delivered to Parliament last Friday, insisting that there was not enough time to adequately prepare to debate the fiscal package.

On Friday when Browne had finished delivering the budget, Attorney-General Steadroy Benjamin moved a motion for the debate to begin at 9:30 a.m. local time on Monday.

However, the opposition said they were in not in favour and instead moved a counter motion that the debate begin on Thursday, December 21. They refused to budge from their position.

The government said that the debate had to begin early because of the unavailability of some ministers who would be travelling overseas on official business.

Following the intervention of the Speaker, Sir Gerald Watt, the government’s compromise motion was put to the floor, calling on the debate to start on Tuesday.

All the government legislators present voted in favour, with the opposition maintaining its stance that the debate should begin on Thursday, even as Opposition Leader Jamale Pringle said the time period is “unfair.”

The government controls nine of the 17 seats in Parliament.