Scores of government ministers, dignitaries, and other officials convened at the opening of the first session of parliament this morning.
Governor General of Antigua and Barbuda Sir Rodney Williams delivered the Throne Speech outlining the government’s legislative agenda for the new Parliament Session.
Several key areas of development were highlighted including the expansion of the UWI Five Islands Campus and plans for the Deluxe Cultural Centre.
The government says healthcare is critical to nation-building and economic prosperity.
A new renal center for successful kidney transplants is in future plans as well as a legislative framework to prevent institutions such as banks and insurance agencies from discriminating against organ donors.
Additionally, health professionals were listed to benefit from increased training opportunities.
Essential public services such as roads, internet access, and environmental protection were also addressed.
The government has increased the importation of aggregates for community roads and affordable housing.
The Throne Speech further discussed the limited land space as more young people move towards home and land ownership with a suggestion for new houses to be built with multiple stories going up to alleviate that issue.
With persistent drought conditions plaguing the nation, the government intends to increase maintenance on R/O plants currently producing over 7 million gallons of potable water with 3.5 million more gallons to come onstream with the completion of the Bethesda R/O plant. Repairs on water pumps and pipes in the communities continue.
Legal affairs, public safety, and immigration will be addressed with greater attention put on police, prison staff, and similar protection services. The government seeks to foster an environment of rehabilitation for prisoners as they serve their sentences. GG said in the throne speech “only criminals should fear deportation”, as the government has introduced several policies and legislation to ensure our diverse population has the correct national status.
More support will be given to single-parent families and the elderly through the ministry of social transformation.
The country recently surpassed over 100 cruise ship calls for the 2022/23 winter season. It was noted that job creation is vital for wealth generation.
The government congratulated several senior government ministers including Sir Robin Yearwood for being the longest severing member of parliament in the Commonwealth.
An autobiography for Sir Robin will be commissioned by the government.
Sir Molwyn Joseph was also congratulated for his service to the people of Antigua and Barbuda since 1984 as well as Minister Steadroy Benjamin who successfully entered representative politics in 1994.
The government believes new members of parliament can benefit from the wealth of experience of senior members of both houses.
Lastly, all members of parliament were cautioned to remain orderly during parliamentary procedures and engage in behaviors that promote “respectful dialogue”.
“Conduct yourselves in a manner that respects the opinions and rights of others.”