June 3, 2011
Plans to close Antigua Brewery not sitting well with that government

The decision by Cerveceria Nacional Dominicana (CND) to close operations in Antigua and move to St. Vincent and the Grenadines is not sitting well with the government of Antigua and Barbuda.{{more}} reported on Wednesday that Prime Minister of Antigua Baldwin Spencer has instructed his Finance Minister Harold Lovell to convene an urgent meeting with the principals at the brewery to see what the government could do to prevent the move.

CND is the company which owns majority shares in both St. Vincent Brewery Ltd and Antigua Brewery Ltd.

Spencer said he was concerned about the loss of jobs that will result from the closure.

“Notwithstanding that another Caribbean territory would be

the beneficiary of the decision, we are concerned that the Wadadli Beer, an indigenous product, would be bottled outside of Antigua, and that 42 people stand to join the ranks of the unemployed by the decision,” Spencer said.

Minister Lovell made it clear that while the closure of the Antigua Brewery was a setback, he also saw it as an opportunity to reinvest in the sector without the financial encumbrances that had plagued the current company. The minister explored a number of options with the company designed to preserve the production of beer and soft drinks in Antigua.

“We understand the circumstances that have led the company to take this decision,” the minister said, “but we also understand that, under the right circumstances, the production of beer and soft drinks can still be a profitable and successful sector in Antigua. We are, therefore, looking at all the options, including sale, lease, new investment, and others to revitalize the sector.”

Both sides have agreed to resume discussions within a week about proposals that had been put on the table.

The Antigua Workers Union also took issue with the company’s decision, with general secretary David Massiah saying the company should have held more discussions with both the government and the union before making such a drastic decision.