Despite the Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition’s ultimatum to government to provide him with an office by March this year, Prime Minister of Antigua Gaston Browne’s response is that Jamale Pringle will not be getting a new office. Pringle made the demand in his New Year’s address, stating that nine months after the March 2018 general election, he still had not been provided with any suitable office space from which to operate.
When OBSERVER media contacted the Prime Minister yesterday about Pringle’s ultimatum, Browne noted that the All Saints East and St. Luke representative already has an office, which he has failed to utilize. “The opposition leader has an office on Market Street. He also enjoys an office in the Parliament building. Now if any of these two offices is in need of repairs, we will undertake to fix it. Mr. Pringle has no locus to demand new premises to establish plush offices. If he wants a luxurious office, it should not be at the expense of taxpayers,” Browne said.
“We are paying $10,000 monthly for the present office on Market Street. We are literally paying for an empty office.” The prime minister accused the opposition leader of failing to do any work since the general elections was held nine months ago. “It should be noted that the office on Market street remains shuttered since March of 2018, evidencing that Mr. Pringle has failed to carry out his constitutional duties as Leader of the Opposition. The Hon. Jamale Pringle should concentrate on doing some work instead of making an unreasonable demand for a plush office that obviously will remain shuttered. He needs to do some work.” He added:
“As opposition leader I operated out of the said office on a daily basis. I do not recall missing a single day unless I was out of state on official business.” Pringle later responded to Browne’s statements, saying he was surprised because both parties had held prior discussions on the matter. “I am a bit surprised that this is his response to my New Year’s Day message in regards to an office, because this has been something the PM and I spoke about since the second sitting of parliament. So for him to be saying that I want a posh office, it has nothing to do with a posh office, because, if they refurbish the office and make sure the office is in a healthy position to be in, then I will utilize the office.”
He added: “With regards to the taxpayers’ money, [which has] been paying for that office for four and a half years with mould and stuff in that building — which they tried to paint over … this has been happening since the Hon. Baldwin Spencer was the leader of the opposition. “So I do not understand his claims of me wanting a posh office. These are requests of health issues and with my sinus I cannot be in a dust-infested building.”
Pringle said that in light of his health concerns, Browne had promised that he would discuss the relocation of the Leader of the Opposition’s office in Cabinet. “I wrote an official letter to him and recommended the basement in the ADOMS building and I never got a response in regards to that. I even recommended a building that was built on Old Parham Road where I spoke to the Attorney General in that regard and he too agreed that they needed to get somewhere different for me,” the Leader of the Opposition said.