CABINET NOTES of Wednesday 23 August 2023


HURST REPORTS ON CABINET of Wednesday 23 August 2023

The Cabinet commenced its meeting with a prayer by an Anglican priest at about 11:00 am. The meeting ended at 6:30 pm, or seven-and-one-half hours later. The Cabinet expressed its best wishes to former parliamentarian, Honourable Hilson Baptiste, who suffered a stroke and is hospitalized at the Sir Lester Bird Medical Center. A statement from Cabinet is attached. The Cabinet also expresses condolences to the family and friends of Bruce Arrindell, a ZDK broadcaster who suffered a massive stroke and died. A statement from Cabinet is attached.

  1. The Cabinet invited a Medical Team from Trinidad, whose function has been to remove cataracts from the eyes of primarily elderly citizens, whose eyesight has been impaired by the growth of these scales over the pupil of the eye. The team has trained several nurses and other professionals in preparing patients, participating in the operations, and in the post-operative care of the patients. The team reported that Antigua and Barbuda’s Cataract Surgical Rate is in the top three in our Caribbean. (Suriname and Barbados occupy 1st and 2nd position, respectively). The Rate is determined by 4,000 cataract operations per one million population. In Antigua and Barbuda’s case, that would be 400 surgeries per one hundred thousand population.  A video of both nurses and patients expressing great satisfaction was shared with the Cabinet Members. It was agreed that the video would be aired on National Television.
  2. The Cabinet invited the Director of Public Works, Deputy Director and Chairman of the DCA to report on several road projects that are now underway, in St. John’s and Cades Bay. The Anchorage Road is likely to be completed by the end of August, and the Cades Bay Bridge will follow shortly thereafter. The Ministry of Works is also charged with fencing the Bolans Playing Field and constructing change rooms and bathrooms. The Ministry is also charged with fencing the designated Public Cemetery at Tomlinson’s, to ready it for receiving burials. The Boys Training School is almost ready for occupancy; it is estimated that it will be completed by the second week of September.
  3. The Cabinet decided—based on certain information regarding the attractiveness of Barbuda to very wealthy homeowners—to expand the runway in Barbuda by more than 1000 feet, in order to accommodate commercial jets. Recent data emerging from an Investment Report show that Antigua and Barbuda has attracted the most Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) among independent Caribbean states. Only the USVI attracted a little more FDI than Antigua and Barbuda. The major investments were by PLH Barbuda—the single largest investment in any Caribbean country—Paradise Found, the Dulcina Resort, Jolly Beach, the Halcyon Resort and other projects that have attracted FDI.
  4. The Cabinet has given the authority, at the request of the Attorney General, to commence repairs on the east wing of the Newgate Street Police Station. During the period of its rehabilitation, the police will be moved temporarily to another building not so far away. The Commissioner of Police and other members of the top brass will consult on the logistics that will evidently be required to achieve the tasks assigned. The rehabilitation of government buildings is a priority.
  5. The Cabinet made a decision to commence burials at Tomlinson’s immediately after the demarcated land has been fenced and the plans for graves and buildings are completed. The St. John’s Public Cemetery cannot accommodate burials, unless in the graves of family members; and, the public cemetery next to the Lady of the Valley Church is nearing maximum capacity. It is evident that cremation will become an alternative to burial of cadavers. Regulations are to be adopted by the Parliament of Antigua and Barbuda in order to ensure that certain standards are adhered to in the new Tomlinson’s Cemetery; only standardized headstones are to be utilized to allow for a tidy and respectful burial place for loved-ones.
  6. The Cabinet was advised by the Minister of Trade that a pharmaceutical firm has indicated an interest in establishing a factory in Antigua to produce a number of drugs that are in high demand within the OECS. The objective being to lower the cost of some drugs that many OECS residents consume. Consultations with Ministry of Health officials are to begin shortly.
  7. The Cabinet was informed that the monkey population in the east of Antigua is expanding and posing a problem for some farmers. The Cabinet asked the Ministry of Agriculture to work with other Ministries and agencies in order to reduce the inherent threat which a large monkey population will inevitably pose.
  8. The Cabinet has agreed to add capacity to the Fort James Reverse Osmosis Plant by 500,000 gallons per day, before December 2024. The plant currently is capable of producing 1,000,000 gallons per day; however, the Minister responsible has expressed his concern that an increase in cruise tourism, as projected by the Ministry of Tourism, will result in an increasing demand for more potable water. To ensure sufficient water for several communities as well, greater capacity is being planned.
  9. i) The Cabinet heaped praises on the Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda and The Defence Force for their presence during the Carnival street events, quickly intervening whenever a fracas occurred. Despite the reports of youth violence, there was virtually none during the Carnival celebrations, nor since the end of the Carnival season.
  10. ii) The Central Board of Health was congratulated for its swift action following the close of the several streets events; the streets were littered with cups, bottles, paper and other waste material. Within hours, the streets of central St. John’s, where the events were held, the CBH workers quickly made them clean. The Cabinet agreed to make good on the overtime payments which those workers earned.

iii) The Emergency Medical Services (EMS) was also applauded for its quick responses to emergencies and the professionalism it provided during the weeks of Carnival. Despite road blocks and traffics jams, EMS responded in record time every time they were called upon, the Cabinet noted.

  1. The Festival Commission will sponsor a small delegation to join the Antigua and Barbuda diaspora in New York to celebrate Antigua Day on the Labour Day weekend, September 2nd – 4th. The Delegation will begin the promotion of Antigua Carnival 2024.

11. Cabinet will be held next Thursday, 31 August 2023, NOT on We

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