HURST REPORTS ON CABINET of Wednesday June 21 2023
The Cabinet commenced its meeting with prayers at 10:45 am. The Attorney General gave an update on the Alfa Nero following a bidding process that will yield 67.6 Million USD, to be placed into the Government’s Treasury also known as the Consolidated Fund. A portion of the yield will go towards the expenses incurred since it has been in Antigua and Barbuda’s waters; the remainder will be utilized to offset other liabilities. A title will be issued to the new owner free of any liabilities.
1. The Cabinet held a discussion on National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) and the collection of household waste, which has proven problematic. The Cabinet agreed that a part of the difficulty has been an insufficiency of compactor trucks, coupled with the several thousand new homes and businesses that have been constructed and occupied in the past decade. The new drivers are also failing to enter into the communities to remove garbage from the routes assigned. All these shortcomings are being addressed.
2. The Cabinet held a brief discussion on the case involving Kevin (Shuggy) Simon, the parliamentary representative for Saint Mary’s South who remained a civil servant after nomination on December 28th 2022. The Claimant has not withdrawn the case and Mr. Simon therefore still has a case to answer.
3. The Director of Antigua and Barbuda Bureau of Standards was accompanied by two lawyers from the Ministry of Legal Affairs to address the issue of setting standards for imported radiation equipment and the proper disposal of such equipment and devices that utilize radiation in their functioning. The Bureau is hoping that regulations controlling the importation, use and discarding of such equipment or devices will be enacted into law. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of the United Nations is assisting in drafting the regulations. The regulations will require that all radiation devices be accounted for, and that workers in the field limit their occupational exposure. The regulatory infrastructure will require licences in order to purchase equipment that generate radiation.
4. The principal managers of the West Indies Oil Company were invited to Cabinet to put forward a proposal that would involve concessions by the Government, to enable WIOC to modernize many parts of its operations. WIOC two sources of revenue are: 1. Selling petroleum distillates; and 2. Offering storage services. WIOC’s revenues are greater in the storage services sector than in the sale of distillates. WIOC is eager, therefore, to ensure that it can improve on its storage capabilities than is now the case. The government has agreed to provide a concession to WIOC whereby it would lower the tonnage fees over a period of 24 months to support and enable WIOC to retool its facilities related to the storage and discharge of fuel to the ships that transport petroleum products.
6. The Telecommunications Division in the Ministry of Public Utilities. The Ministry is seeking to access significant sums to move and to install all the computers and other hardware required from its current operating location to another. He is also seeking to modernize many of the pieces of equipment required, because they are no longer state-of-the-art. The Cabinet has agreed to provide some funding in order to ensure that all the entities—Fire, Police, EMS , 911 operators—are adequately equipped to respond to emergencies anywhere in the country.
7. Several Manager of the APUA were invited to Cabinet to address their preparedness for the hurricane season as well as the production and distribution of water. The APUA team reported that a new power plant is being constructed that will be driven by liquid natural gas (LNG). It was agreed that a team of Police, APUA and Ministry officials will examine areas of Antigua where streetlights are required; the object is to ensure that those who engage in criminal activities will be deterred by bright lights in well-lit alleyways and community roads and cameras. A new R/O plant will also be commissioned in July in Barbuda, increasing production to 180,000 gallons per day. The new plant will ensure that a sufficient supply of water will be available to homes and businesses. Potable water production in Barbuda will also be driven by green technology. The Ffryes Reverse Osmosis plant that has been operating below full capacity; its capacity was reduced due to the failure of one of its critical components. The replacement parts had to be procured from an overseas supplier or very early next week. It was taken offline for maintenance. The Cabinet was also informed that the water which is seen in Big Creek is salty and not available for human or animal consumption.
The APUA team reported that it currently has eleven million gallons of storage around the island, but needs thirty million gallons of storage if it is to supply all consumers at all hours, equivalent to three days’ supply. It will achieve that level of resiliency to overcome the current outages. For this reason, it is necessary sometimes to fill the tanks at night and to discharge the stored water to customers in the daytime. It was agreed that the APUA will install sufficient capacity in the Yeptons/Five Islands area in light of the residential and college community as additional students, dorms and facilities are being built.
8. The Minister of Foreign Affairs reported that the United States Government has issued its annual report in trafficking persons and has upgraded Antigua and Barbuda to Tier 2. “The Trafficking In Persons Prevention Unit was responsible for investigating trafficking cases and include four full time staff. The TIP Unit was the investigate arm of the Trafficking In Persons Prevention Committee (TPPC) which was the national coordinating body.” The eight-page Report has been placed online for all to see.
9. The Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation is moving to the Stanford Building at the eastern edge of the Airport Property; it was once occupied by the Observer media group. Their temporary placement at that building will last for as long as it takes the Ministry of Works to repair their headquarters building on Factory Road