HURST REPORTS ON CABINET of Thursday 14 September 20023


HURST REPORTS ON CABINET of Thursday 14 September 20023

The prayers which signal the start of the Cabinet meetings, were conducted by a priest who is very familiar with several members of Cabinet. He chose to deliver a sermonette before offering prayers. All members were present. There followed a discussion on the fights between and among secondary school students that are captured on video-cell phones, and then broadcast beyond the school compound. The priest suggests a sufficient number of families are failing to send their children to church; hence, the notion of peaceful settlement of disputes and “to turn the other cheek” have not been taught to our youth. Families are responsible for this failure, the priest asserted.

1. The Prime Minister gave a report on his journey to Hamburg, Germany, and the progress being made on establishing the legal responsibilities for global climate change by taking the issue to the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea (ITLOS). More countries are joining the COSIS (Commission on Small Island States) thereby lending greater legitimacy to the effort through ITLOS. While the political arguments have been very successful, the promises made by the polluters have been non-binding. Should the ITLOS render a decision in favor of the small island-states, the developed states would be bound, the Prime Minister reported.

2. The Cabinet, at the urging of the Minister responsible for Aviation, invited the principal of Antigua Hangars Inc. and two of her associates to its meeting. The Cabinet asked her about the substance of her request to the Government or the ABAA (Antigua and Barbuda Airport Authority), since a one-page summary and three photos had been submitted before the Cabinet meeting; the submission did not clearly identify the requests. The principal provided answers to the three requests and, after two follow-up questions, was given the assurance that the Cabinet would give consideration to her requests.

The Cabinet also takes note of an article published by an online news portal which references what is purported to be the contents of a discussion held at Cabinet, hours earlier. For the record, the Cabinet has never authorized anyone who is not a member of the Cabinet or has been expressly tasked with that responsibility to make any report or summary of its proceedings. Further, the proceedings of Cabinet are bound by the principles of confidentiality and non-disclosure unless otherwise agreed by its members. Therefore, the Cabinet considers the publication of the article to be a violation of the protocols of procedures and a lack of respect for rules governing engagements at that level. Further, the article makes certain inaccuracies to include the refusal of Prime Minister Browne, the Chairman of Cabinet; when in fact the Prime Minister was excused prior to the commencement of any engagement and was a part of another meeting very briefly. It must be noted as well that the Cabinet made no decision regarding any presentation made, and continues to research the viability of all proposals that have not yet been determined.   

3. i) The Cabinet invited Doctor Charles, the Director of Academic Affairs at UWI Five Islands, to address the Cabinet on steps which can be taken to improve Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) learning, by getting more students to study Data Science. The object is to make the Five Islands Campus the center of attention globally in the teaching of A.I.  Collecting data and storing it in a particular manner will allow for the use of Artificial intelligence to solve many of the challenges that AI can easily resolve; to do that, A.I. can digitally transform data into prescriptions. The UWI Campus is also planning to form an Artificial Intelligence Institute that can address challenges in the OECS Countries. A new look at the ABIIT will also form a part of the planning for its future.

ii) The commencement of the Expansion Project for the UWI Five Islands Campus is scheduled to take place early next year, since the Saudis have delivered on the loan that had been promised. The first phase will be the construction of the Five Islands Primary School, to be followed by the construction of dormitories to accommodate students coming from abroad to study. Altogether, the sum of 216 Million EC Dollars is being loaned by Saudi Arabia to Antigua and Barbuda for the expansion of the UWI Five Islands Campus. It was noted that construction of new buildings and homes in Antigua is at full throttle, and the expansion of the UWI FIC is expected to consume even more building supplies, aggregates, labour and skilled workers, beginning next year.

4. The Cabinet was informed that the Antigua and Barbuda Defence Force (ABDF) has acquired a second aircraft to serve primarily as an air ambulance. The configuration within the first aircraft does not lend for convenience in transporting sick people. The aircraft are also commissioned to engage in Search and Rescue at sea, and one has been utilized to transport OECS Heads to Meetings when no commercial flights were available.

5. The Cabinet was informed that the renovation of the Newgate Street Police Station, its cells, floors, offices and sleeping quarters will cost 2.2 Million EC Dollars. The Building is historic and its role in central St. John’s cannot be discounted. It remains one of the busiest police stations in the nation, and its reconstruction is absolutely vital.

6. The Minister of Tourism reported that last season 2,500 passengers arrived by air to join cruise-liners that were docked at the Cruise Tourism Port. It is called homeporting. This coming season 55,000 passengers will arrive by air in Antigua to sail from the Heritage Quay Port to other islands in the Caribbean, only to return days later to be shuttled to VC Bird International Airport.

7.  The Cabinet is considering giving Magistrates and Judges the authority to assign troubled male youth, younger than 18 years, to the National Cadet Corps. The legislation is being drafted for presentation to the Parliament.  The Cabinet noted that there are overwhelmingly more students that abide by the rules and do not engage in fights. Troubled youth can be very disruptive and Cabinet wishes to provide alternatives to removing them from situations where they cause serious challenges.

8. The Minister for Public Utilities gave a report on the state of water production and distribution. APUA produces more than 7 million gallons daily and it is still inadequate to meet demands.  Several hotels are putting in their own Reverse Osmosis plants; at least one consumes more than 100,000 gallons of water per day. The Minister also reported that APUA has purchased ultra-filtration equipment that will help to lengthen the life of the membranes that are used to separate the salts and minerals from the seawater. Some rusting equipment has been removed from the Ffryes plant and is replaced by new equipment. APUA has invested more than $100 million dollars to address the drought that has impacted all Caribbean countries.

9. The Minister of Housing reported that CHAPA will be handing over several houses to new homeowners by next week in the Bolans development; while National Housing has already handed over some houses to homeowners in their new Oliver’s Estate (behind LICS Ltd.) development which will see over 300 homes upon completion. This attests to the success of yet another housing project under the Gaston Browne Administration.

10. The Parliament convenes Monday 18th of September at 9:30am to debate several important bills. 

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  1. ABLP cannot win a next seat in Antigua or Barbuda be it a by-election or general elections unless your government ministers stop competing with local businesses and Business men and women. You need to pay the local contractors and suppliers. See all the giving away at St.Mary’s. That is to show that much better can be done, in every constituency.
    Today I heard a good suggestion made by Leader of the opposition. With the amount of work and attention given to St.Mary’s. Maybe is best a few UPP candidates resign and let them have by- elections in their constituencies. That seems to be the only way they will get work done in the UPP held constituencies. So like Pringle who is basically unbeatable in All Saints East . All he has to do is resign and the government will spend to try and win the by-elections.
    Government ministers are just too greedy and corrupt. Grabbing for everything they can find their hands on. GB your challenger now owns a radio station, water trucks and farming too . He believe that he can try and do like his friend uncle Jack. He has his eyes on ABLP leadership and Antigua and Barbuda Pm.
    Sugy is going to burst all you tail and I am going to make a prediction that he is going to become Antigua next PM. Simplicity , honesty, integrity and his his charisma will move Antiguans all the way TONA UPP government. I do hope the UPP is not afraid to take that bold step. Like Young Mitchell in Grenada . Sugy can be groomed into becoming Antiguans next PM. Dr Jackie I am calling on you to manage this guy. He can take it to the very top.

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