CABINET NOTES July 3, 2024


HURST REPORTS ON CABINET of Wednesday 3 July 2024

The Cabinet commenced its meeting with prayers, delivered by a Minister of religion.

1. The Cabinet held a discussion around the impact of Hurricane Beryl, the harm it caused to Grenada, Petite Martinique and Carriacou, St. Vincent and the Grenadines including Bequia, Union Island, and others. A Barbadian Coast Guard vessel that sought safety in the waters of Antigua, is returning to the Southern Caribbean loaded with supplies from both Government and NODS (National Office of Disaster Services), and with a contingent of both police and soldiers from Antigua. The ABDF aircraft will also fly both personnel and supplies to the two affected countries. “We are our brothers’ keepers”, the Cabinet declared, expressing sympathies to the affected countries and condolences where deaths have been recorded.

The Cabinet gave assurances to the family and friends of Antigua and Barbuda citizens studying in Jamaica. Everything will be done to ensure that they are safe in that country which is threatened by Hurricane Beryl, including flying them back to their homeland if conditions there following the hurricane may be life-threatening. Beryl was expected to strike Jamaica late on Wednesday and on Thursday July 4, 2024.

2. The Cabinet invited both the Fire Chief and his Deputy to its meeting in order to address the growing needs of the State, which translate into the provision of additional firetrucks for the Fire Department. As more housing and more shopping malls and office buildings are constructed across the country, the greater is the demand on the Fire Service. The distances of buildings in villages from the Fire Department, the larger the number of trucks required if response time is to be reduced. The firefighters explained that the larger the firetrucks and their water-bearing capacity, the slower they move and the more difficulty their drivers experience maneuvering on Antigua’s narrow streets. Hence, the firefighters provided recommendations for increases in water tank trucks with a carrying capacity of 2,500 gallons, connected to the Fire Departments stations; and, firetrucks that carry up to 1,000 gallons of water. The Cabinet agreed to five additional firetrucks, one each for St. John’s, Cobbs Cross, All Saints, Johnson’s Point, and one for the Airport. Two tankers will also be purchased for the Fire Department. The Cabinet also discussed fill-up points for the trucks and the tankers. It was agreed that more such points will have to be created in order to ensure that the vehicles are always in a state of readiness.

3. The Magistrate Emanuel led a team of five experts to Cabinet to address the challenges posed by children in conflict with the law. An expert from Trinidad was among those who addressed the Cabinet, explaining the nature of the project funded by the UNDP (United Nations Development Program). It is designed to achieve restorative justice, to reduce the backlog of cases on the courts’ calendars, to reduce the very high rates of incarceration, and the length of time which is spent on remand. The Cabinet was informed that paper-based entries—as opposed to computer-generated calendars and the like—are in part responsible for the very slow administration of justice. The courts’ workers must therefore be trained in the new technologies; this is called “up-skilling”.  The European Commission has funded the 8-country project in the Anglo-Caribbean to the tune of 500,000 Euros.

Judge-only trials also speed up the administration of justice and help to reduce backlogs of trials, the expert explained. The legislatures must therefore play a significant role by amending the laws that were adequate in a past era when the population of criminals was much smaller, and few minors were caught in the web of the law.

4. The Cabinet invited the likely replacement of Dr. King—the psychiatrist who worked with the Magistrates’ Court and the High Court but has withdrawn his services—to meet with Members, so that the broad terms and conditions of employment (through a written contract), can be agreed. Dr. Benjamin hails from Dominica but has spent a considerable number of years in Antigua, Montserrat, and other Caribbean countries. A draft Mental Health Bill 2024, and an amended Mental Health Treatment Act of 1989 are to be modified to meet the current needs of mentally unwell people. The courts frequently order psychological assessments of criminal defendants; only trained and certified psychiatrists are permitted to provide those assessments.

5. The Cabinet determined that air conditioners imported by homeowners, or for sale to homeowners, will have the Import Duty waived, during the very hot months of July, August, and September 2024. The RRC and the ABST will continue to apply, the Cabinet decided.  

6. The Cabinet determined that Parliament will convene on Thursday 18 July 2024. The Cabinet is pleased to report that Sir Robin Yearwood is well and will join his colleagues in Parliament on that day.

7. The Cabinet expressed its well-wishes to the United States of America upon attaining 248 years of Independence on July 4, 2024. The revolution of 1776 is fondly recalled by the Cabinet, making the USA the very first country in “The New World” to unfetter itself of colonial rule. Congratulations to the USA.

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  1. Wow. Nothing about the security and safety of patrons for the upcoming carnival celebrations. Or even a side not on the negotiation of the once cancelled Panorama that is back on.


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