CABINET NOTES: March 27 2024

The content originally appeared on: Antigua News Room

HURST REPORTS ON CABINET of Wednesday 27 March 2024.

The Cabinet commenced its work at about 11:00 am following prayers by a Methodist Minister. The religious Minister drew on the lesson taught to us by Peter who denied Christ three times; he said it was an act of cowardice.  Yet, it is Peter, the rock upon whom Christ’s Church was built, who demonstrated, he said, that courage can emerge even after acts of cowardice. It is called redemption.

1. The Cabinet examined the workings of the Entrepreneurial Development Programme (EDP) in order to determine to what extent its operation can be improved. It was agreed that the threshold for certain projects could be raised from the current amount to $500,000.00. Entrepreneurs who have projects that could result in a high return on investment, who may not have the necessary capital, ought not be turned away but financed in part by the EDP. The policy will change. A subvention to top–up its current balance will also be made available to the EDP.

2. The Cabinet agreed that littering is a continuing challenge across the country and is determined to create a new culture of cleanliness and order among the population. The Cabinet agreed to hire more litter wardens with the object of ensuring that the fines stipulated within the law, for littering, are enforced. The Ministry of Tourism in collaboration with Global Ports Holding (GPH) will be working with Schools across the country to encourage youth to participate in the “Keep your Community Clean Campaign“, and will deliver prizes to the cleanest school compound participating in the competition.

3. The Cabinet met with two officials from the Antigua and Barbuda Taxi Association; they operate from the Heritage Quay Port. The officials complained bitterly about unauthorized taxi cabs and private car owners that are poaching cruise passengers and are at times using unauthorized vehicles to carry tourists. The Cabinet has promised to strengthen the law to deter the behavior that might ultimately lead to liability. The taxi drivers identified a number of streets whose surfaces are in need of repairs. The Minister of Works has indicated that each street identified is on the worksheet to be completed before the end of the year. Antigua has more than 400 miles of road. Floods and excessive rainfall have caused many of the street surfaces to deteriorate rapidly.  They were poorly-built during the previous administration. A new method using roll-out concrete is being relied upon to repair street surfaces.

4. The Cabinet invited one of the planners, for the Small Island Developing States (SIDS 4) International Conference May 27th – 30th 2024, to advise on the progress made thus far with transportation of the delegates following their arrival here. The assignments with the taxi drivers are very much dependent upon the location of the hotels, AirBnbs and residences that will be utilized by delegates during the days of the Conference. The Cabinet was reminded that a meeting with the owners of residences, air bnbs and hotels will take place on Wednesday 27th March, and that the fine-tuning of taxi cabs and residences etc. will follow; another meeting is also planned for Thursday 28th March with all the planners present in order to achieve greater coordination.


5. The UWI Five Islands is in the planning stages of creating a documentary series focused upon the various Prime Ministers and Heads of State of the English-speaking CARICOM countries dating back to the time of their countries’ independence. The series will commence with an examination of the life and work of Vere Cornwall Bird, and is to be funded by various sources.

6. The Cabinet agreed that the Cuthwin Lake Medical Center on Nugent Avenue (formerly NTTC) will temporarily accommodate the General Post Office and the Ministry of Agriculture staff: both headquarters buildings are to undergo rehabilitation as soon as the staff, furniture, and equipment have been removed. The Center was initially reconfigured to house patients who contracted Covid-19; however, the Covid-19 crisis was so very well managed that the need to utilize it for that purpose never materialized.  A portion of the building will nevertheless remain under the control of the Ministry of Health. It is anticipated that the rehabilitation work at the General Post Office building on High Street and the Ministry of Agriculture building on Independence Avenue will take at least six months.

7. The Minister of Health reported that the cooling system at the Sir Lester Bird Medical Center is to be replaced by a modern air conditioning system—the first system having been placed in the building more than 20 years ago. The new system will cost US$1.6 Million and will be installed in phases; meanwhile, several departments within the SLBMC have utilized independent units to bring comfort to the work environment.

8. The Cabinet was very pleased to receive a report on the use of an ointment to treat diabetic sores that was donated by a hospital to the Antigua and Barbuda Delegation, when the team visited China in January 2024. The report received from several clinics indicate that the ointment has cured sores that were, before, incurable. The Minister of Health reportedly called the Chinese Ambassador to thank her for taking the delegation to the hospital in Shanghai and for securing several packages of the substance for our use in Antigua and Barbuda. Many patients in Antigua lose limbs to diabetes; amputations are infrequently relied upon in China.

9. The Minister responsible for Technological Implementation reported to Cabinet that Antigua and Barbuda is very close to installing Kiosks and E-Gates at the V.C. Bird International Airport. The latest technology is being applied in Antigua to reduce the length of time it takes to clear Immigration, especially on a busy Saturday and Sunday when the large aircraft bring hundreds of passengers.

10. Friday is Good Friday, a holiday; Monday is also a holiday, Easter Monday. The Cabinet encourages extra care on both days both on the roads and at the nation’s beaches over the holiday weekend. The Cabinet wishes a Happy and Blessed Easter Sunday to all.

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