HURST REPORTS ON CABINET of Thursday, April 14 2022
The Cabinet convened its meeting at about 10:30 am and ended at about 3:30 pm or after five hours, all members present.
The Prime Minister, Chairman of Cabinet, was required to Chair virtually a meeting of a United Nations multi-nation group, convened at 7:00 am this day, to begin discussions to establish the Multi-Dimensional Vulnerability Index (MVI).
This new device is intended to replace the GNP per capita device now utilized to determine eligibility of states for concessional financing.
Since many small states, including Antigua and Barbuda, have high GNP per capita measurements, they are excluded from concessional financing, even after devastating hurricanes.
The Prime Minister has pressed to have the United Nations adopt this new MVI device, in order to place many of the CARICOM island-states and other island-states in the Pacific Ocean in a position to access concessional financing.
The Prime Minister reported that the meeting was very well attended and that the arguments put forward appeared to persuade many. No decision was made on this day.
- The Cabinet held a very lengthy and involved meeting on the issue of water adequacy and the challenges which this achievement poses for the Government. Three factors, it was agreed, have impacted potable water availability:
a). The availability of finance the Government has spent 3,000,000.00 on new reverse osmosis plants, new pipes , pumps and training to manage the production and distribution of reverse osmosis water that is 100% water provided to all consumers in Antigua.
b). A drought that has lasted ten years and is worsening has impacted the 60/40 formula (reverse osmosis/ underground surface water supplies) that had been guiding the APUA. 100 % reverse osmosis water is now required because of the persistent drought. In 2021, Antigua recorded 18 inches of rain, the lowest in 90 years. That is the result of Global Climate Change.
C). The covid 19 pandemic has resulted in an increase demand in water at a time when supplies have dwindled. Water stations are outside many banks, supermarkets, government buildings, private businesses and even homes have increased demand. Yet, the washing of automobiles, sea-craft, the ubiquity of washing machines have all added to the increase demand for water at a time when it is not raining and reverse osmosis water is the only source.
d). The cost of water remains at $22.00 for the first 1000 gallons consumed making APUA water the cheapest commodity one could possibly purchase. Only 48% of the water pipes into the distribution system is built by APUA; the 52% consumed is unknown.
- The Cabinet invited Melissa and Michelle Seaforth, Identical twins involved in body fitness to the meeting in order to congratulate them for their outstanding performance in their competitive field. Ms. Melissa Seaforth was the winner in her field and received the applause of several cabinet members who saw the story on television and heard her on an interview on radio subsequently. The cabinet was very impressed and made a promise to reward her accordingly. The Minister of Health in particular wished for the two sister to join the fight against Non Communicable Disease (NCD). In the post covid period, the Minitsry of health plans to relaunch the campaign against NCD’s and he invited them as spokespersons against childhood obesity, sedentary lifestyles and consumption of sugars and floury products that contribute to hypertension, organ failure and amputations. The Seaforth sisters have agreed to participate fully in the campaign.
- The Cabinet invited Senior Counsel Tony Astaphan and members of the Board of National Parks Authority. The legal team has been assembled to fight a claim by an operator utilizing the seabed and other crown assets in the Falmouth Harbour.
The operator is not only seeking to discontinue payments for the crowns leased property but also a refund of the amounts which he has paid in over the years amounting to almost $2,000,000.00.
The legal team gave cabinet the assurance that the claim is unfounded and without merit. Every effort will be made to address the issue without litigation but the team is prepared to move forward on disproving the claim.
- The Minister of Health confirmed that 22 vaccinated housemates at the Fiennes Institute were infected with covid-19 and are being treated by Medical professionals and they are expected to recover.
- The Cabinet has agreed to build several two bedroom homes that will cost about $100,000.00 well within the capability of the prospective homeowner. The cabinet is responding to demand of men and women whose income are in the $3000.00 per month range who may have found the new stock of houses outside of their capabilities. All houses built by the Gaston Browne administration are and will be hurricane resistant.
- The Cabinet member saluted the Kanneh-Mason family for being so generous with their time and talent and inspiring Antiguan and Barbudan audiences with their incredible skills at several musical concerts. Several member of the Cabinet will attend the concert on Saturday night at the St. Johns Pentecostal House of Restoration at 7:30 p.m. The Cabinet encourages many parents to bring their children to the function. The Antigua and Barbuda Youth Symphony Orchestra (ABYSO) will also display their skillful renditions and Khan Cordice an outstanding pannist will also participate.
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