CABINET NOTES of Wednesday, May 4, 2022

The content originally appeared on: Antigua News Room

The Cabinet commenced its sitting at about 10:30 am and ended at 3:00 pm. Members of Cabinet were invited to the Ordination of Bishop Flemming of the Anglican Church, scheduled to begin at 4:00 pm on this day at the St. John’s Anglican Cathedral.

The Prime Minister is unable to attend since he leaves for the UK and then onto Europe today. CLICK HERE TO JOIN OUR WHATSAPP GROUP

1.i. The Cabinet is very pleased with the response of those demonstrating an interest in acquiring the starter homes that are to be sold for about $120,000.00. Both National Housing and CHAPA have agreed to build the houses on plots of lands that are theirs and lands held privately. These are to be two bedroom homes with bathroom, kitchen, living and dining rooms; the houses will be resilient and built to withstand category 5 hurricanes.  The Antigua and Barbuda Development Bank will provide the mortgages and the Government will deposit $40,000,000.00 in the ABDB to finance the construction of these highly desirable homes. It is estimated that the start date is likely to be on the 1st of June, 2022.

1.ii. The Cabinet was also informed of the heightened interest in the $25,000.00EC home improvement loan. All the necessary plans for distribution of the resources are virtually in place and the start date will soon be announced.

2. A new buyer has stepped forward to purchase the Jolly Beach Hotel and is willing to do so by purchasing form the substantive owner—The Government of Antigua and Barbuda. A new wrinkle, however, has been introduced by the former owners of the Jolly Beach Property and AOB Bank. It appears that a charge of $15,000,000.00 was placed on the Jolly Beach property unbeknownst to the other creditors owed by the Jolly Beach Property. It has made the sale of the hotel unlikely until such time as a court has determined on the invalidity of the claim now being made against the property.

3. The Prime Minister will receive from a donor a sum of £4,000,000.00 sterling to rebuild and enlarge the Antigua and Barbuda Institute of Continuing Education (ABICE). The object of enlarging and professionalizing ABICE is to ensure that it can meet and provide the qualifications required of all tradesmen within the OECS since they now constitute a single market; all of CARICOM is moving towards a single standard for Technical and Vocational Educational Training (TVET). The upgrade of the ABICE is a promise by the Government to prepare Antigua and Barbuda technical workers to be prepared to work in any place within the countries of the CARICOM.

4. The Cabinet examined the challenge posed by the shortage of potable water and remarked that the reverse osmosis plants that are operational are to be upgraded with new membranes. A new plant at Fort James is under construction and the vessel bearing containers of parts of the new plant will arrive in Antigua in a few weeks.  By the end of May 2022, APUA will be able to increase its output by more than 1 million gallons; the APUA is producing more than 6.5 million gallons daily. The object is to increase the supply of potable water to 12 million gallons daily so that all homes, businesses, and institutions can be provided water 24 hours each day.

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5. The Cabinet welcomed five officials from the Ministry of Agriculture whose expertise on the production of poultry and poultry products is widely acknowledged. The officials confirmed that Antigua and Barbuda is efficient in producing eggs to meet domestic demand; however, the production of meat by way of broilers continues to lag. One of the experts is a consultant out of London who has been in Antigua for 2 weeks; he made several proposals for increasing the production of meats. The need for achieving food security requires Antigua and Barbuda to improve the production of poultry meat since the country currently imports $16 million dollars’ worth per year. In order to achieve self-sufficiency, the producers would have to butcher 150 thousand chickens per month. It was proposed to Cabinet that an abbatoir capable of butchering a minimum of 14 thousand chickens daily could be installed in Antigua in 7 to 10 months. The Government is committed to building a new abitur that will slaughter many more chickens and an adjacent slaughter house to replace the current building which sometimes floods and has to be inadequate. Cabinet encourages small farmers to plan for expansion including the number of hatcheries that can be utilize the number of available chicks for the growers.

6. Five athletic medalist who recently participated in the Carifta games in Jamaica and Barbados were invited to Cabinet for the purpose of receiving members’ applause. The medalists were accompanied by the two female coaches who prepared them for track and field and swimming competitions. It was agreed that an Olympic size swimming pool will be constructed, so that more adequate practice sessions can be conducted by those interested in expanding their aquatic skills. The 14 year old who won gold in the swimming meet displayed 4 additional medals which he has won in international meets in recent times. The 3 females who also medaled introduced themselves to Cabinet, and each pledged to continue their outstanding performance in the years to come. The male who won the 100 meter race pledged to continue to build his muscle and strength in order to exceed his competitors.

7. The Minister of Health reported on the Covid situation in Antigua and Barbuda by pointing to the most recent dashboard. It is clear that the disease is essentially under control, and that Labour Day celebrations were a precursor to Carnival 2022. People were very responsible and those who are vulnerable were seen wearing masks. The Minister encourages everyone who is not yet vaccinated to get vaccinated.

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