CABINET NOTES of Wednesday 15 May 2024


HURST REPORTS ON CABINET of Wednesday 15 May 2024

The Cabinet meeting commenced with a prayer from a Catholic priest. 

1. The Cabinet repeated the Government’s position of providing employment opportunities and advancement to young, ambitious, hardworking females. In this regard, the Cabinet decided to appoint as Consul General in Canada, Ms. Amaya Athill. A decision was also taken to appoint Ms. Rulita Camacho-Thomas as Ambassador for Environmental Affairs; and High Commissioner Karen Mae-Hill as Non-resident Ambassador to Malta. The appointments will take place following the issuance of the instruments by the Governor General and the presentation of credentials to the relevant authorities.

2. Cabinet advises that minimum occupational pensions paid to former government employees will be increased to $1,000.00 per month. Tiered increases to higher earning pensioners will be calculated and paid on a declining percentage.

3 i. The Cabinet addressed the issue of unemployment among young, single mothers especially. The Cabinet found that their inability to meet the cost of daycare services tends to prevent them from acquiring jobs that match their skills. The Cabinet decided that crèches, owned and operated by the government, could provide a significant cost-reduction on child-care services and allow for young mothers to accept employment. Areas that are densely populated, where incomes tend to be low, are to be targeted for this special, subsidized service.

ii. The Cabinet determined that Sports Clubs have historically played an important role in strengthening the social fabric of many communities, in the past. In order to encourage the formation of new sports clubs, whether cricket, football, netball, basketball, baseball, volleyball, or any other competitive sports that would encourage young men and women to spend time developing strengths in physical disciplines, and to avoid being engaged in antisocial activities, the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) will fund the clubs. The details are to be ironed out.

4.  The Cabinet invited the President and General Secretary of the Antigua Trades and Labour Union (AT&LU) to address several issues: i. increases in payments to government pensioners; ii. “gain sharing” –(an issue known to Trade Unionists based on the notion that as a company grows and earnings increase, the gains are to be shared with its workers); iii. increasing the number of workers who can work from home, especially Public Sector workers, iv. childcare allowance (not by legislation but through negotiations with employers when overtime is warranted).

5. A twelve-member team from the Ministry of Finance, the Inland Revenue Department and the Accountant General’s Office, provided a monthly report to Cabinet about collections and expenditure. The Customs collections were up by over 9 million dollars in the same period of the year prior. Inland Revenue was up by 13 million dollars; import duty increased by 2million dollars; while the Revenue Recovery Charge (RRC) increased by 2 million dollars. The increase in property tax and penalties for late payment have not yet been implemented; but that too shall yield an increase when implemented. Certain lead-time is required for the property tax implementation; the same for increased ABST on tour operators. By agreement, the taxes will not be imposed until June of 2024. Promoters of events have 15 days to pay up, following the completion of their event.

6 i. The Cabinet agreed that the legal authority of the Pharmaceutical Council will have to be expanded to allow for medicines from jurisdictions, other than the three that are now relied upon, to be accepted for lawful use in Antigua and Barbuda. The Drug Approval Agencies of the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada are relied upon exclusively; but, other jurisdictions are also becoming exporters of pharmaceuticals and other systems for curing diseases. (Stem cell treatments and other medicines coming out of China, India and elsewhere are anticipated). By policy, therefore, the Cabinet has decided that the Pharmaceutical Council can give its approval for other drugs created in other jurisdictions other than the traditional three.

ii. The Minister of Health reported that the Sir Lester Bird Medical Center is seeking to place the ten abandoned adults, resident at the hospital, into nursing homes for assisted living. Where their Social Security and other pension amounts are being paid, these monies will be used to meet the cost of residency in the nursing homes.

7. The Minister of Foreign Affairs provided both written and oral reports on the readiness on the SIDS venue to receive delegates. Cabinet insisted that a complete state of readiness must be achieved by Wednesday the 22nd May 2024. The Cabinet will therefore pay a visit to the conference center site before the commencement of the SIDS4 on 27 May 2024.

8. The Minister responsible for National Housing and Urban Renewal has agreed to fix the leaking roof of the All Saints clinic. The roof of the National Archives that has been twice repaired began leaking again during the recent downpour. That roof will also be repaired.  A national cleanup will take place over the coming weekend for which the National Solid Waste Management Authority has been mobilized.

9. The Prime Minister and the Minister of Sports met with Cricket West Indies (CWI) to discuss the final steps to be taken in preparation for the World Cup in June 2024.  The Antigua Recreation Grounds (ARG) is certified as a practice venue, as is the Coolidge Cricket Grounds. The matches will be played at the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Ground. Antigua now has three certified fields—that is more than any other in the cricketing Caribbean-island venues. The decision to vie for and to succeed in bringing Cricket West Indies to Antigua, more than 20 years ago, is still bearing fruit. 

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  1. How many UNION bodies does Antigua have?

    Why should cabinet want to have such discussion with only one union and not with all the rest? Especially seeing that its their own affiliate.

    Cabinet come better, the discussion in (4) is not for one union but all unions on the island. you would have gotten an effective discussion with other bodies, cause maybe they may see things that your one eyed beady looking union would have.

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