HURST REPORTS ON CABINET OF Wednesday October 26 2022
All members of Cabinet were present. The meeting began at 11:30 am, arrangements having been put in place to allow Ministers to attend the Heroes Day Ceremony from 10:00 am.
1. The Cabinet invited the APUA Water Manager to the Cabinet in order to learn of the reasons why several communities are being deprived of potable water for a few consecutive days. The Water Manager explained that a challenge of moisture accumulating in electrical boxes that power the individual plants, malfunctioned. The Hurricane Fiona, with its lateral winds carrying water droplets, penetrated the barriers and made the electrical boxes malfunction. Their repair required the plants to be turned off while the technicians fixed the boxes. All the boxes are now fixed, and the Crabbes plant is working at full capacity once more. Production of potable water has returned to 7 million gallons daily, allowing every community to receive a supply almost daily. The storage tanks at every reverse osmosis plant are being filled again. The APUA Water Manager advises that the replacement of broken water mains in several streets in the Point Area will commence in November. The streets will become impassable during the time when the old pipes are being replaced.
2. The Businesses and Homes Christmas Lighting Competition will be reintroduced during the Christmas and New Year’s Holiday; the competition will begin on November 24th to Saturday 7th January, 2023. Prizes will be awarded to the winners, and homes of the participants will have their electricity bill waived for the month of December only. Businesses will receive a percentage of their monthly bill reduced. The Event will be managed by the Ministry of Creative Industries and Innovation.
3. i. The Minister of Health informed that Antigua and Barbuda has started the process to attract Ghanaian nurses to Antigua and Barbuda. Barbados has successfully recruited one hundred nurses from Ghana. They are English speaking, have been trained to meet the standards set by the United States, and have several years of experience.
ii. A consultant is to be brought on by the Ministry of Health to draft a plan for making the nation’s Polyclinics more efficient and better staffed. Many patients are going to the Sir Lester Bird Medical Centre for emergency treatment when they need urgent care, and not emergency care. The Public Clinics are not being utilized for the purposes intended because medical practitioners are frequently not present.
iii. The Cabinet agreed that it is necessary to amend the law governing burials in order to allow for cremation in Antigua and Barbuda. A crematory was incorporated in the plan for the new cemetery; however, one of the funeral homes in Antigua has made an application for permission to operate a crematory. The Cabinet is of the view that a single crematory is sufficient for Antigua and Barbuda given its population size and the demand for that kind of service. Hence, a Public Private Partnership in the establishment of such a venture may be the way to go. More discussions and decisions are to follow.
4. i. The Attorney General reported to Cabinet on the accident which took place on Friars Hill Road on the Morning of Sunday October 23rd, 2022. Increased patrols to catch speeding drivers are likely to be instituted, and the Parliament may have to raise the amounts which accident victims can receive from Insurance Companies.
ii. The Minister of Health provided an update on Andre Simon the cyclist who was hit by a motorist several months ago. He was flown to Texas by Air Ambulance to a Hospital that specializes in repairing neurological damage to accident victims. The report is that he has improved since leaving Antigua; he has opened his eyes and showed signs of consciousness.
5. The Cabinet has raised $1,000,000.00 to add to a venture capital fund to be operated by the Entrepreneurial Development Program (EDP). A significant portion of the fund was contributed by the Peoples Republic of China and the other portion will come from the Citizenship by Investment Program. Any funds utilized by entrepreneurs must sooner or later be repaid; or, if utilized for a venture capital enterprise with the EDP as partner, the shares can be sold to the EDP in order to reduce the businesses’ liability.
6. The Paving of Old Parham Road is being undertaken by the resources raised through the Caribbean Development Bank, so too is the paving of the main highway leading to the south of the island.
7. The Independence Celebrations continued today, Wednesday, with the recognition of our six National Heroes at a wreath-laying ceremony that took place at three venues. Schools also held their independence programs. On Thursday, the National Youth Rally will commence at 8:30 am at the Antigua Recreation Grounds. On Friday the planning committee calls for all Antiguans, Barbudans and residents to adorn themselves in the National Dress and Flag. On Saturday, there will be an Evening of Drama at the Dean William Lake Cultural Centre. On Sunday, the National Service of Thanksgiving takes place at the Cathedral of St. John The Divine at 4:00 pm. On Monday, Schools will compete in the National School’s Panorama at the Antigua Recreation Grounds. On November 1st Independence Day, the Ceremonial Parade and Honours Ceremony will commence at 7:30 am at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, followed by the Independence Food Fair and the Leewards v. Jamaica Cricket Match beginning at 1:30 pm. Barbuda will hold its Independence Parade and Ceremony at 3:30pm on November 1.