The Department of Environment (DOE) is developing new approaches to access financing for and on behalf of local small businesses, especially those in the informal sector.
In order to achieve this, the DOE is exploring opportunities particularly in the waste recycling, farming, and other sectors.
The DOE has already begun these initiatives using technologies such as green landscaping equipment, renewable energy, and other technologies not normally found in small island countries.
In order to improve recycling efforts in Antigua and Barbuda, one of the key technologies that has been procured is an egg tray making machine that the DOE imported to promote the recycling of paper and cardboard.
The DOE is currently preparing a strategy paper for approval of the Cabinet which will outline how the machine will be operationalised and managed, which will be done before putting the egg tray machine into operation.
The machine is being stored at the Antigua and Barbuda Waste Recycling Corporation (ABWREC) and will remain out of operation until the strategy has been approved by Cabinet.
Prior to the procurement of this machine, the DOE would have consulted with relevant stakeholders including but not limited to a representative of what was then the only poultry related association on island, the Poultry Association.
Subsequent to this initial consultation, the DOE would have been reliably informed that the Poultry Association has since split into two separate associations.
The existence of two separate associations has proven to be a significant road block in the implementation of this project due to the fact that the DOE cannot, in the implementation of its project, facilitate unfair market advantages of one group of stakeholders over another..
Response to Allegations
On the 5th of June 2022, the DOE became aware of allegations made via Whatsapp that suggest that the machine is not being used as intended and would instead be handed over to a private sector entity for their operation.
The DOE would like to take this opportunity to categorically deny any assertions made in these social media posts. The DOE is in the process of determining the best approach to ensure a fair and equitable outcome for all stakeholders who may benefit from the machine.
The DOE would like to further state that there is no ‘personal interest’ within the Government of Antigua and Barbuda as it relates to the operation of egg tray making machine and any delay is as a result of the relevant due diligence activities that are still being implemented. Moreover the identification and ordering of the machine was a decision of the team at DOE, and not any other organisation, as was incorrectly stated in the WhatsApp recording.
In a response to the allegations circulating on social media, the DOE has sent these recordings to the Office of the Attorney General for the requisite investigations. The DOE takes these allegations very seriously as they can cause reputational damage and affect access to funding for small businesses and entrepreneurs such as farmers.
The DOE is an accredited entity that accesses funding for NGO’s, small businesses, and entrepreneurs. Over the last two years the DOE has provided over US $2 million to NGO’s for climate change resilience, and is aspiring to significantly expand this funding over the coming years to additional beneficiaries.
The DOE must therefore seriously address any and all allegations or suggestions that resources are not being used as per contractual obligations to the donors, whether on social media or otherwise as these allegations can cause donors to become reluctant to provide funds if they are of the view that funding is being used improperly or creating friction within local communities.
Untrue allegations such as those made in the circulating WhatsApp recording can cause significant harm to the operations of the DOE, and to current and future beneficiaries of funding.
Over the past two years the DOE has worked assiduously and tirelessly to be open and transparent to all of our stakeholders, including the public of Antigua and Barbuda.
Until such time as these allegations can be investigated and disproven the DOE will be suspending this particular area of engagement with the local farming community pending a report from the Office of the Attorney General as required by the contractual obligations to the various donor agencies.
For more information, please contact the Department of Environment at 462-4625 or via email at [email protected]
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