Bird's initial term as prime minister was marred by controversy within the party regarding allegations of corruption against the previous administration. Lester's brother, Vere Jr., was accused of fraudulent behavior when he served as minister of public works in his father's administration. Despite this, Lester was able to restore the confidence of the nation in his administration. The ALP's overwhelming victory at the polls in 1999 was a reflection of that confidence.
Another major task that confronted Lester Bird when he began his first term was to ensure that there was continued growth in the Antiguan economy. Again, his success in this arena was noteworthy. Despite a 4.5% decline in the GDP in 1995 due to two destructive hurricanes, Bird was able to turn this situation around the following year. Increases in tourism contributed to the 4.6% growth rate in GDP in 2001.
Bird's first five years as prime minister did not conclude without criticism. He has been accused of selling out Antigua to foreign investors. However, Bird has countered this argument by stating that "investors bring jobs and development that have made Antigua one of the most prosperous Caribbean nations." The nation of Antigua and Barbuda has an unemployment rate of 7%, even though more than 3,000 citizens from the island of Montserrat have immigrated there. Bird now has to fulfill his promise of providing full employment for the people of Antigua and Barbuda.
In his second term in office, Bird worked to ensure continued economic growth and to reduce the size of the external debt.