HURST REPORTS ON CABINET of Wednesday 20th July 2022
The Cabinet convened its meeting at about 10:30 am and ended at about 4:30 pm, or after six hours. Two members were absent, two members joined virtually.
- The Cabinet held an intensive discussion on Carnival. The issue of the route is settled; all of the parades will be conducted in the city of St. John’s. None will be held at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium.
A meeting with the Jam-Bands will be held with several Cabinet Members and others to determine how J’ouvert will be conducted. The Cabinet’s view is that J’ouvert is for a great mixing of revelers, from every strata of society- the poor to the wealthy. The Cabinet is aware that there is a pent-up demand for entertainment and Carnival 2022 is expected to provide all the entertainment that every age group can enjoy.
The Minister reported that Soca Monarch semi-finals attracted one of the largest-ever number of attendees for a semi-finals event, evidencing the pent-up demand for entertainment. All the shows to be conducted at the ARG are expected to draw large gatherings.
- The Cabinet invited the Labour Commissioner, the Head of the Passport Division, the Chief Immigration Officer and a total of fourteen officials to discuss the manner in which the amnesty program works, and how the granting of citizenship and passports is executed. It was agreed that a person who has been granted an amnesty certificate for residency will not require a work permit in order to hold employment in Antigua and Barbuda. It is also agreed that a person who has been granted an amnesty certificate for citizenship does not require a work permit to accept employment in Antigua and Barbuda. The residency certificate is valid for three years to allow the resident to complete seven years of lawful residence in Antigua and Barbuda, leading to citizenship.
The Immigration Officers who deal directly with those who are accessing applications for extension of time or for amnesty have indicated that they apply very high customer-service standards, at all times.
- i. The Principal of PLH was invited to Cabinet to address the issue of the shortage of skilled workers which PLH faces in Barbuda and to examine alternatives that would address that shortcoming. The Cabinet learned that PLH pays considerably more for skilled labour than is customary, almost twice the standard rate, hence it has been attracting workers from Antigua whose skillsets are in demand in Barbuda. PLH now employs more than 500 workers, but in two months will move to increase that number to seven hundred workers. PLH is hopeful that LIAT will be able to fly workers into Barbuda when the new airport is open. Workers who fly to Barbuda in the mornings will be able to fly out in the afternoons; hence, it will not be necessary for them to spend 5 continuous days in Barbuda without the benefits of their families or to rest in their own homes. PLH presently provides accommodation, transportation and meals for workers who travel to PLH Barbuda.
- The PLH is also interested in reducing shipping costs that have surged since the Covid pandemic. PLH proposes to have Barbuda declared a Port of Entry to allow vessels to leave the USA and enter into the Port of Barbuda at the River Dock. PLH will provide the financing to enable the dock to accommodate the shipping vessels requiring a deeper draught. The time saved by shipping directly to Barbuda will translate into lower cost per build, and will enable more workers to be employed and more houses to be built in a shorter period of time.
- The Cabinet invited to its meeting the Barbudan architect and planner who has been playing a significant role in designing a new “Codrington”. The new Codrington will include hundreds of homes, schools, supermarkets, churches. Today he added a technical and vocational center and an early childhood education center. The new Codrington will be built on more than 1,000 acres of land. The Cabinet was further informed that the airport will occupy a total of 240 acres of land to include the runway, the terminal building, the Flight Based Operator (FBO) and apron space for parking of airplanes.
- A new airline called Antigua Airways will soon be permitted to operate flights from West Africa directly to Antigua. The company is financed by wealthy Africans who wish to open a new route between the African continent and the Eastern Caribbean. The firm is hoping to collaborate with LIAT, flying passengers north and south of Antigua who have come from West Africa on Antigua Airways.
- Today’s Cabinet is the last until the third week of next month (Wednesday 17 August) post-Carnival. The Cabinet agrees that if any urgent matter arises, the members will be called upon to do round-robin. The Cabinet ministers are very eager to attend and show support to all Carnival festivities.