HURST REPORTS ON CABINET of Wednesday June 15 2022
The Cabinet commenced its meeting at about 10:30 am—following a ceremonial gathering celebrating 40 years of diplomatic relations with the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela—and ended at 6:00 pm. One member was absent.
- The Cabinet held a discussion around the recent decision rendered by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council on the issue of land ownership in Barbuda. The highest court in the land ruled against the two plaintiffs who brought the issue before the Court, challenging the right of the Government of Antigua and Barbuda, acting as the Crown, to determine leases and other kinds of exercise of ownership over land in Barbuda. The court found that the decision of the Court of Appeals was correct and, therefore, dismissed their appeal to the Privy Council. The Prime Minister indicated to the Cabinet that he has already discouraged any member of his government from gloating over the decision but, rather, to set-about to rebuild the unity between the people of both islands. He urged all Antiguans and members of his political party not to engage in triumphalism; the decision is not a victory for any political party but has set a clear path for the development of Barbuda for the benefit of all. There are plans being made to travel to Barbuda to hold town-hall meetings and other media events to address the issue frontally by the Parliamentary Secretary for Barbuda Affairs.
2.i. The Cabinet held discussions with the leadership of the Bus Association and management of the Antigua and Barbuda Transport Board over the subsidy from which the bus owners will benefit as the price of fuel increases. It was agreed that fisherfolk, taxi drivers and bus drivers will continue to enjoy a reduction in the amount being charged at the pump; that further reduction would result in the same concessionary amount now being paid. The discount would now stand at 30% reduction of the price, and it will take effect immediately. The discount is intended to ensure that the taxi drivers, the fisher folks and the bus drivers pay no more than what they were paying before the recent increases, thereby causing their prices for the products and services to remain the same.
- The Cabinet also learned that several drivers have been preying upon youth, violating the Sexual Offenses Act (against minors). New measures will be put in place to catch and arrest those who engage in activities that offend the law against minors. Cabinet abhors violation of young children and will act to ensure that these violations come to an end. Cabinet notes that a bus driver was convicted today, Wednesday, and expects the perpetrator to be dealt with by the full extent of the law. Sexual predators against minors must face the severity of the law, the Cabinet asserted.
- The Cabinet invited the Manager of the Water Division of the APUA to provide answers concerning water provision to the people of Antigua. He reported that APUA is producing nearly 8 million gallons of water a day but it is still not sufficient because of the worsening drought. More and more households are taking the opportunity to fill their tanks, cisterns and drums with APUA water as the drought worsens, the rainfall disappears, and storage systems go empty. Demand for APUA reverse-osmosis-water has grown as additional homes are constructed and hotel rooms fill-up, even as we approach the summer months, increasing the need to supply even more water than APUA currently produces. The Cabinet continues to encourage conservation and limited use of this precious resource.
- The Cabinet learned the vessel bringing the Fort James plant from Dubai to Antigua, experienced a continuing delay when the vessel lost power off Martinique, nearly a week ago, and has not yet been repaired. Meanwhile, construction of the building to house the plant continues, as has the burial of pipes necessary for bringing the seawater to the plant. The planting of pipes, to carry potable water to the many households and business to the north side of the island, continues. It was reported that the Ffryes plant is now producing 900,000 gallons per day, up from the usual 775,000 gallons. Barnacle Point will have new membranes and filters delivered in a week; and, camp Blizzard will also have upgrades so that it will produce 300,000 gallons per day. Pigeon Point is now delivering 300,000 gallons daily and the Bethesda Plant has an $18-million-dollar budget for its instalment, with pipes and significant storage capacity. The plant at Crabbes is up by 1.5 million gallons, now producing 3 million gallons per day.
iii. The Cabinet learned that there are 52 valves that are turned on or off every day in order to direct water flow. A crew is dispatched daily in order to determine, when, where and for how long the RO water will flow to which communities, according to the published schedule. A system of ensuring that valves, placed in “on” or “off” positions, are turned to an appropriate position when the APUA has fixed a supply schedule. The issue of sabotage arose.
- The Cabinet invited several teams that are responsible for events production to appear before it. The industry professionals reported that during the time of COVID, their equipment remained unused and as a consequence have now failed by simply not being used. The industry professionals also indicated that the same experience has caused other industry specialists in other Caribbean countries to have their sound systems fail, their generators fail, their electric lights and other sensitive equipment to fail because of non-use during COVID. Although 102 fetes have been approved and appear to be well supported, new equipment is needed quickly before their counterparts in these other Caribbean countries–that are holding Carnival around the same time–purchase the supplies that the Antiguan operators require. Consequently, Cabinet was asked to provide a significant sum so that they may replace their non-working equipment by making good on debts owed to them from previous years.
- i. The Minister of Health reported that the supply of AstraZeneca for the fight against COVID-19 is now exhausted and a re-supply is being sought from partners who have demonstrated charity and good-will in the past.
- The Minister of Health also noted that COVID-19 is diminishing as a threat to the Antigua and Barbuda population but encourages everyone to get vaccinated. The Minister also encourages everyone to get boosted following 6 months after their last shot. Those men and women older than 50 years are especially encouraged to take their booster shots.
- The contestant who will represent Antigua and Barbuda to the Jaycees Queen Show has won the endorsement of the Cabinet of Antigua and Barbuda. Ms. Brianna Anthony from Jennings appeared with her management team and the Cabinet was very pleased with her presentation and that of her team.
- Cabinet is planning to continue school meals during the summer holiday to the most vulnerable students whose needs have been assessed. Upgrades and maintenance of school plants and furniture will take place during the summer as is customary, utilizing the Education Levy operated by the Board of Education.
- The country’s leader visited the Glanvilles Secondary School on Monday to assess the situation with the school’s administration; proposed upgrades will be undertaken during the summer months.
8. Parliament will not be held on Thursday the 16th of June, but will be postponed for one week until Thursday 23rd June 2022 when a number of important bills will come before parliament for their second and third readings. The Prime Minister will leave Antigua tomorrow, Thursday, for the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting to be convened in Rwanda where he is expected to take part in several bilateral meetings and other round-table gatherings
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2.i.1 – What measures are they going to put in place? This is standard language for do nothing and look important doing it. There are already laws in place, stop the talk and enforce them.
4 – So the equipment stopped working because they got a little rest? Good excuse anyway. Hope you get ur money
But you still gotta wait for the brown and brown show to know that gas price going up .. cabinet notes my ……
6 – Yes, get boosted, like Dr Fauci…double boosted and now infected. Justin Trudeau, infected “again”, Justin Bieber, face twisted and his wife with her now patched up heart. Get boosted, get boosted
3. Cabinet Members, why not share the water shortage with us? Then you might
come up with a better idea.
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