CABINET Notes Of Wednesday, September 7 2022

The content originally appeared on: Antigua News Room

HURST REPORTS ON CABINET Of Wednesday, September 7 2022

The Cabinet commenced its meeting at about 10:45 am with customary prayers by a Minister of Religion; all members present, except one who chose the virtual means because of his absence from the State. The meeting ended at 5:00 pm, or nearly six hours later; the time was characterized by robust debate, intelligent decision-making, and wide consensus.

The Cabinet invited Rai Benjaminson of outstanding cricketer Winston Benjamin–who was a silver medalist in the last Olympics and the World Championships (in the 400 meter hurdles race)to its meeting today. Although he competed on the USA’s team, Rai Benjamin was socialized, and schooled in Antigua; he is a graduate of the Antigua Grammar School before migrating to the USA. The Prime Minister invited the Olympian medalist and his family to meet with Cabinet to congratulate him for his success, to confirm his appointment as an Antigua and Barbuda cultural/sporting Ambassador, and to be a strong advocate for other Antigua and Barbuda athletes seeking opportunities abroad. Rai Benjamin confirmed that he was more than happy to play those roles and provided the Cabinet members a list of deficiencies that would have to be cured if the Antigua and Barbuda athletes were to be able to make it to the very top. They included an increased number of coaches, additional tracks that meet the same standard as YASCO, and more track meets, both regional and international. The Cabinet proposed more intense Parish-based clubs to foster greater competition. He noted that success is often determined 90% by the psyche, and a very small percentage that can be buttressed by better equipment and more practice.
The Cabinet also invitedone of Rai’s coaching experts from the United States to attend its meeting and to consider him for turning out more successful athletes. The international coaching expert believes that the best coaching begins at childhood and continues through adulthood. In fact, coaches can gain certification and can also find places in the United States and elsewhere, once they are recognized as having high achievement results. The Minister of Sports confirmed that proper training and exposure will bring global attention to Antigua and Barbuda, once the investment is made at an athlete’s early age; Antigua and Barbuda is at that stage at this moment. The Sports Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs are scheduled to meet with the Antigua and Barbuda coaches to develop a program to identify talent at an early age and to upgrade our talent.
The Cabinet questioned the Minister of Health on theSLBMC Emergency Room challenge, where those residents who go there for treatment must seemingly wait for a very long time to receive attention. The Minister of Health explained that it is not uncommon for personnel assigned to the Emergency Room to call-in sick and, therefore, to reduce the number of personnel available to treat the sick. He also explained that many patients who show up at the emergency room are really in need of “urgent care” and not “emergency care”. He said that the Director of the SLBMC surveyed a number of patients who sought treatment at the Emergency Room (E.R.) in a fixed period; the diagnosis offered by the doctors concluded that less than 50% of the patients were of real “emergencies”, but in need of “urgent care”. The Sir Lester Bird Medical Center is therefore planning to increase the number of doctors and nurses assigned to thhe Emergency Room and to quickly determine which patients fall into which of the two groups and to treat them accordingly.
The Cabinet repeated its determination to reduce the cost of gasoline by $1.05 XCD beginning today,Wednesday, lowering the amounts to be paid by drivers. Further adjustments are to be made, all are to reflect the degree to which prices on the spot market decrease. An examination of the history of price decreases and price increases between 2004-2014 show that changes were made 17 times, the highest being $16.45 per gallon; and, the lowest being $12.15 per gallon in early 2004.
The Cabinet reiterated that taxes on flour havebeen eliminated in order to keep the cost of bread at a very low and stable price. One of the important sources of calories has been the bread consumed by the Antigua and Barbuda people; however, bread is a major contributor to NCDs when eaten in high quantities. Cabinet advises against the over consumption of this product.
The Cabinet has agreed to reintroduce a GunAmnesty that will last until the end of the year 2022. Illegal firearms can be turned over to any police station in exchange for which a sum of money is to be offered. The object is to take illegal guns off the streets and out of the hands of criminals. The start of the program will soon be announced.

iii. Cabinet members have been informed by scrutineers that an unusually high number of electors have been transferring their registration into the Constituency of St. Peters. The Cabinet will launch an investigation, and the candidate will prosecute “claims and objections” of those who have untruthfully and unlawfully transferred their registration to that constituency while remaining resident in another.

The Fort James Reverse Osmosis plant is operational providing 500,000 gallons of potable water daily, adding to the daily supply of 7million gallons. A formal turn-over of the plant will take place on Friday 9th September. The increase water pressure has caused older pipes and valves to spring leaks; APUA will work on repairing the ruptured pipes. Residents in nearby communities have reported an increase in water supply around the clock, and applaud the APUA.
The Cabinet has received additional requests for STEM Cells operators to apply their trade in Antigua and Barbuda. The country is becoming known as the STEMCell capital of the region, since many wealthy clients favour coming to Antigua because of the well-known capabilities of the doctors that are administering the STEM treatment, and the beauty of the island.
The Cabinet is considering making changes to the law governing the burial of persons who died of a communicable diseases,such as COVID. The existing law requires burial within 24 hours of death and no funeral. The amended law will allow for seven (7) days before burial could take place and also an open casket for a very short period of time; no touching of the body is to be allowed.
The Cabinet has agreed to assist the national footballer whose throat cancer willlikely not allow him to speak ever again.
The Minister of Lands and Housing announced that 12 homes out of a planned 600 homes,at Olivers, have been completed. All the homes in phase 1 of the project have already been assigned to new homeowners. Over 6000 applications were submitted for this housing project. More homes are to be constructed but there is a shortage of skilled building professionals who have reportedly moved on to join the PLH project in Barbuda. A skill-shortage is being experienced in the booming construction industry.