The Cabinet commenced its meeting with a prayer from a pastor who hails from another of the religious denominations which form part of the spiritual landscape of Antigua and Barbuda. The Cabinet then spent considerable time examining the financial health of the state, and the abilities to meet many outstanding debts incurred during Covid-19. In order to raise income, the Cabinet determined that some concessionary waivers will be discontinued or reduced.
- The Cabinet invited a filmmaker to address it and to demonstrate how the making of movies here would benefit the people of Antigua and Barbuda. The filmmaker noted that he filmed 9 productions in another Caribbean country, and that over 200 nationals were employed at a much higher rate of pay than they earned at their regular jobs. The movies have been distributed by a professional agency, the filmmaker enjoyed a profit, and the island-country received positive promotion and exposure. To assist in raising the capital required to fund the movies, the filmmaker will utilize the Business Option of the Citizenship by Investment Program (CIP), and has assured the Cabinet that as many as 500 files will be secured for this purpose. Discussions will follow between the CIP Unit and the filmmaker within 24 hours.
- 2. i. The principals of the Blue Ocean Dredging Company were invited to Cabinet to address the issue of the shortage of sand for construction purposes in Antigua. A decision was taken by Cabinet in 2022 to mine sand from the ocean floor, since the sand from traditional sources are near depletion. The principals explained that sand mined from the ocean would be required to sit on land until showers of rain fall upon the mounds and most of the salt is removed by the falling rain; that would mean weeks of waiting, depending on rainfall frequency. Nevertheless, other Caribbean island-countries are utilizing this method with minimal consequences, and with maximum success. The Environment Division and the Department of Fisheries will provide the Development Control Authority with the licences—temporary and then continuous.
- The principals of the Blue Ocean Dredging Company also discussed the payment of additional amounts incurred as a result of the removal of very hard-rock material from the ocean bed, in order to widen and deepen the channel and the turning basin leading to the berths. The additional dredging incurred a cost which the government must absorb.
- The Cabinet invited one of the Carnival Coordinators to share the scheduling of events for Carnival 2023, beginning on 24thJuly and culminating on Tuesday, August 8, 2023, last lap. Some innovative programs and shows are anticipated, though the traditional shows will dominate including tee-shirt mass on July 29, 2023. The local Queen Show will be held before the official opening of Carnival in order to prepare the winner for the Jaycees Caribbean Queen show. Discussions will continue between the decision-makers and the sponsors. Paying a portion of the monies owed to stakeholders, was also addressed by the Cabinet. A sum of money is to be set aside in order to achieve this very important end. A down payment on future expenses is also to be paid.
- i. The Minister of Health reported that two successful kidney transplants were conducted at the Sir Lester Bird Medical Center (SLBMC) on Monday and Tuesday, February 6 and 7, 2023.He pointed out that there could have been more transplants but that donors do not come forward; the Minister urged family and friends whose siblings and loved-ones are presently on dialysis, to step forward as donors. Since the SLBMC has now exceeded 10 transplants, the hospital is encouraged to sell the service to OECS countries without the expertise.
- The Cabinet took a decision to grow thousands of plants for decoration along the highways of Antigua and of Barbuda. The need for aesthetic improvements by the presence of trees and decorative plants along the highways is immediately noticed by those who are visitors, and the nationals returning for festivals and other events.
iii. The Cabinet also took the decision to alter the Work Experience Program by having the private sector employers pay a greater share of the cost which the trainee is paid by government. Negotiations with the Ministry of Labour will begin next week.
- The Minister responsible for Utilities, has reported to Cabinet on the micro-details which he has unearthed in the production and distribution of potable water from the reverse osmosis plants which have been built at great expense. He has ordered stand-by, uninterrupted power supply at every R/O plant, to avoid the harm caused to the plants when the electricity has suddenly stopped flowing. He has also ordered the fencing and other improved security measures at each R/O plant in order to discourage mischief. He has applauded the coordination between himself and the Minister of Works; the collaboration required will save expenses and other wastage of the assets.