HURST REPORTS ON CABINET of Wednesday 23 February 2023
The Cabinet meeting commenced at about 10:30 am and continued through until 6:30 pm. For about an hour, the Cabinet discussed matters related to the new parliamentary sessions, including the required parliamentary committees. The Leader of the Opposition leads the Public Accounts Committee.
The Cabinet also discussed the spate of new investments that have been triggered by the re-election of the administration.
- The Cabinet invited managers of the ABAA (Antigua and Barbuda Airport Authority), the Immigration Department, and the I.T. specialists that manage the systems which allow for a smooth flow of passengers arriving and departing V.C. Bird International Airport. The ability of the Immigration Department to deliver the full panoply of electronic services is not yet complete. The Minister responsible for Aviation and the Minister responsible for Information/Technology have been collaborating to produce a system to ensure the successes of the e-system. They have agreed to address:
- Completing the Electronic E.D. card (that will remove the need for the passenger to fill in the data which appear on the printed version of the card).
- Removing the face-to-face contact now required during the entry exercise.
- Placing kiosks in the arrival lounge to satisfy inbound passengers.
- Speeding-up the slower existing system for arriving and departing passengers, using the upgraded electronic system.
- The Cabinet invited “the Special Adviser to the Cabinet on Agriculture” to share his vision of the future of agriculture, given the various limitations which exist: Drought, Water, Roaming Animals, Praedial Theft. His knowledge of plants, plant life, and the ability to utilize an e-system to measure and predict growth and yield, is considered remarkable. He is also able to provide large consumers, like hotels, with produce that is grown locally. He is of the view that the Central Marketing Corporation (CMC) ought to intensify its collaboration with farmers, despite the practice of farmers selling their best produce to the hotels and the supermarkets, and then farmers wishing to sell the less-attractive remainder of their crop yield to the CMC. The Cabinet, led by the Minister of Agriculture and Trade, plans to exhort farmers to change their marketing practices in order to maximize the returns, including possible export. The Minister continues to hold sessions with farmers. The upgrade of tractors remains an important element in the transformation that is to take place.
- The Cabinet acknowledges that many more students during these past months are applying for resources to fund their tertiary education, utilizing the Prime Minister’s Scholarship Program. Consequently, limitations are to be immediately imposed on new students making application for the scarce funds; while those to whom the pledges have been made in the past will continue under the same terms. It was agreed that double-dipping is also to be disallowed. Seeking both a Scholarship and Study Leave will not be allowed, except under exceptional circumstances. The Cabinet also gave consideration to bonding students, so that they return to Antigua to work for a fixed period, in repayment of the taxpayer funding which was freely given towards their training.
- 4. The Cabinet invited the Medical Director of the Sir Lester Bird Medical Center (SLBMC) to address it, on the growing needs of the hospital. The central air conditioning system has stopped working, causing none but emergency operations to be conducted at the SLBMC. The Cabinet pledged the resources of the National Development Fund (of the CIP) to be deployed for payment of a new system. A temporary fix will be installed in the operating rooms in order to ensure operability of the hospital’s most critical system.
The Cabinet also learned that the specially-created floor cover of the SLBMC has deteriorated over time with use. Several contractors are being invited to bid on the upgrade, utilizing the system relied upon by hospitals.
The Cabinet also learned that Sonja Henry, the young woman who fell from a truck six weeks ago, has reached a recovery stage that will enable her to be sent abroad for further surgeries and treatment. The Director received the assurance from the Cabinet that her travel and treatment costs will be met by the Government.
5.i. The Development Control Authority is being moved from its current location at the Transport Board Building because of a troubling and unhealthy situation with sections of the spaces it now occupies. Arrangements are being made to rent or lease another property during the interim until the ceiling and walls of the building are repaired.
5.ii. The building usually occupied completely by the ECCAA is still undergoing repairs and is therefore not yet ready for occupancy.
5.iii. The CMC complains of the vagrants who occupy the building’s cover for sleeping at night. Several large glass windows have been broken, and the disheveled front of the building acts as a deterrent to doing business within. Finding housing for the homeless men has been assigned to the Minister of Health.
- The Minister of Health and the Environment reported that a cash deposit is to be attached to certain plastic water bottles, to be refunded upon return of the bottle. Plastics continue to create a hazard to the cleanliness of waterways, and to blockage of gutters and drains. The object is to remove them from being throw-away items, to collecting them for alternative use and disposal.
- i. A variant of Covid-19 has been found in an infected person in Antigua. However, no-one is hospitalized as a result.
- Additional spare parts for two off-line units at the Ffryes Reverse Osmosis plant have arrived. The two units will cause the plant to process more potable water next week and alleviate the shortages being experienced by the southern parts of Antigua.
iii. The Cabinet expressed its applause to Khan Cordice for his remarkable show of expertise by being the arranger for the Trinidad Exodus Steelband that earned second place in that country’s Panorama competition.
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A variant of Covid-19 has been found in an infected person???
Khan Cordice was the Driller and did a fantastic job. All credit to him. Pan is Alive!
SLBMC how the heck is there not a planned regular maintenance program to avoid these ’emergency’ situations? Surely the govt. was flagged last year or year before about AC aging out? Surely the floor surface has been flagged previously.
Yet it appears no budgeting occurred to allow a new system/floor to be purchased and gradually installed so avoiding the issues that currently beset staff & patients.
Please be transparent in whom DCA will rent space from until their building is fit for inhabitation.
Who is ECCAA renting space from while they continue to wait for their building to be rehabilitated?
APUA is your par stock of spares correct? i.e. enable you to immediately action repairs, or must you wait for stoppage and then beg $ for parts and wait for delivery?
Looking forward at all MP’s following the charge of the GG to debate the countries business in a professional and respectful manner with no personal insults or personal attacks.
Does anyone know the 800 number for the rapid response pot hole gang? There is a MASSIVE pothole by Clare Hall School right pon d corner.
ALTERNATIVE CABINET NOTES/MEETING:
[However, just before the meeting commences, Maria Browne notices that her husband’s trousers are a lot shorter than normal]
Maria Browne: “Dawling, how yah trousers leg-bottoms so short? You never check yourself before you leave di house?”
Gaston Browne 🥸: “My word, I thought they felt tight! I think I put on a pair of your trousers by mistake! Mercy, what mi ah go do now …?”
Max Fernández: “They do look more like shorts boss – you going down ah Dickenson Bay for a swim afterwards?”
Gaston Browne 🥸: “Listen mi Max, don’t mek mi …”
Steadroy Benjamin: “Maybe you should go home and change before the the meeting starts”
Gaston Browne 🥸: “… hey Steadroy, at least I’m not fat – put that in your pipe and smoke it”
Chet Greene: “Why the personal insults Gaston? We are only looking out for you – but how could you mistake your wife’s trousers for one of yours? I’m baffled … hmmm! 🤔”
Molwyn Joseph: “Chet, you can’t see he’s under a lot of stress at present, especially with the 637 Africans roaming around the country, and the voting public wanting answers”
Daryl Matthew: “There’s 637 Africans abandoned in Antigua? How?!”
Gaston Browne 🥸: “Mi ah go home to change mi trouser-pants … I NAH DEYAH”
CABINET MEETING ENDS EARLY 😂😂😂
The writer of this article must be cognizant of the fact that last Wednesday which was Ash Wednesday was the 22nd and not the 23rd of February.
Come on writer get it right! You can delete this text again all you want. Wrong is wrong and right is right.
Ideally CMC should have small locations all around the island for persons to purchase the local produce. Also, they could turn imperfect produce into value added items such as pies, veggie quiches, soups etc. , perhaps have a small deli at their locations.
Plastic bottles could be collected directly at persons homes on a special recyclables collection day. Alternatively, there could be large recycling only bins at strategic locations around the country to make it easier for persons to dispose of the bottles properly from time to time. Make it easier for people to choose to do the right thing…
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