CABINET NOTES: June 22, 2022

The content originally appeared on: Antigua News Room

HURST REPORTS ON CABINET of Wednesday 22 June 2022

Cabinet commenced its weekly meeting at 11:00 am and concluded at 5:00 pm; three members were absent, away on official business.

The Cabinet invited the CEO of the Citizenshipby Investment Unit/Program to address the issue of Russian applicants for Antigua and Barbuda citizenship. Since the Russian – Ukraine war, sanctions have not only been placed on the Russian Government but also on Russian citizens who may have close relations with the Russian President. The Cabinet members questioned the CEO intensely, wanting to know the quantum of applicants and financial resources that the country is foregoing as the CIP abides by the sanctions against Russia; that amount is clearly significant and represents a permanent loss to the CIP coffers. It was also reported that other countries in the Caribbean with CIP Programs have yielded to the sanctions and are not accepting applications from the Russians, at this time. Many Cabinet members noted, however, that several Caribbean countries exceeded Antigua and Barbuda’s annual CIP revenue intake; this was disputed by the CEO who noted that their distribution system for awarding the agents who garner the files were significantly different from Antigua and Barbuda’s. The CEO was persuaded that the Antiguan and Barbudan Government far more accurately reports the amounts which flowed to the government’s coffers, than the reported CIP amounts which flowed into the coffers of other countries. There is no change in the restrictive policy towards Russian applicants since the war in Ukraine triggered sanctions. Antigua and Barbuda is adhering to the global sanctions.
The Minister of Health reported that the family of Andre Simon, the national cyclist who was struck by a moving vehicle over a month ago, continues to raise funds to send him abroad for special treatment at a Texan Hospital.The Cabinet decided that it has a responsibility to assist the family of this outstanding national and has asked the Minister of Health to continue to work with the family to ensure that the resources become available.

3.i . The Cabinet agreed to expand the nursing program in order to increase the number of nurses that are available to serve the population of Antigua and Barbuda. In order to enter the nursing program students must have no fewer than 5 CXC subjects, including Math and English. Those young men and women who desire to become nurses but who have fewer subjects than required are going to be prepared by the expanded program of ABICE to achieve the threshold, while preparing also for the Nursing School’s core subjects.

The Cabinet will invite to its meeting next Wednesday, the acting Head of the National Office of Disaster Service (NODS).The month of September is the most vulnerable for hurricanes striking Antigua and Barbuda. The Cabinet wants to ensure that the plans, for adequately preparing the country for hurricanes and other natural disasters, are sufficient.

iii. The Minister of Information has indicated that number portability is closer to reality than ever before. The Cabinet has re-assured the Minister responsible for implementing the change that he continues to have the mandate to move forward on this significant shift in telecommunications.

The COVID-19 situation in Antigua and Barbuda is stabilizing as indicated by the most recently published dashboards. The number of people infected is less than 100; and, fewer than 5 are currently hospitalized. The Minister of Health believes that in the post-Carnival period, the number of infected persons is likely to increase as in the post-Labour Day and post-Whit Mondayholidays. He encourages all those who qualify, to receive their first and second boosters.  All youth who plan to participate in mas, during the Carnival season, are also encouraged to get vaccinated so that they will not become deathly ill should they contract the COVID-19 virus while parading. At least 7,000 more eligible people are to become vaccinated in the four weeks to the start of Carnival.
The Minister of Education reported that over the Summer holidays, at least 200 students from public schools are to participate in a Summer Camp.The government will provide transportation, learning materials, meals and camp counselors for the initiative. The camp will focus on building advanced-technology skills; the students will develop mobile apps, drone development, and climate change technologies. The APUA will be a major sponsor along with Corporate Antigua.
The team of four women who participated in the Atlantic Row Challenge will be proceeding to the Pacific Row Challenge almost a year from today. However, three additional teams from Antigua and Barbuda are seeking to compete in this new challenge, and are raising funds to cover the cost of acquiring new boats, packed with essentials, technological equipment, training,and transportation costs to the starting point.
The renovation of the High Street Court building is almost complete, and the Magistrates’ Court will return to that venue when the work is done. A Family Court will be placedwithin the High Court building on Factory Road, and an opening ceremony is planned. The Chief Justice and judicial officers from every OECS jurisdiction will be invited to witness the opening of the first, exclusive Family Court in the OECS jurisdiction.
A delegation from Saudi Arabia arrived in Antigua today, Wednesday, and will begin discussions tomorrow. Two regional projects are to be put forward to the Saudi’s for funding. The delegation will visit the sites where the intended projects will be situated; one being Cricket West Indies, and the other UWI Five Islands.
The Parliament of Antigua and Barbuda will be convened on Monday 27thJune 2022, when several important bills will come before the parliament. The date was moved from Thursday to Monday since Prime Minister Gaston Browne wants to be present to answer questions and to present bills pertaining to his Ministry when the parliamentary session is called to order.

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