The Cabinet of Antigua and Barbuda commenced its meeting at about 10:30 am and concluded at approximately 6:00 pm, all members were present. The Cabinet engaged the pastor, following prayers, on the question of the recent High Court decision declaring laws criminalizing buggery as unconstitutional. The members asked for spiritual advice that will help the executive to determine how the Government ought to respond. He advised that the spiritual and secular ought to be separate; and everything ought to be done to ensure that there is no discrimination aimed at any Antiguan and Barbudan.
1. i The Cabinet held a discussion on developments in Barbuda. The members determined that the largest project in Barbuda is causing many skilled tradesmen to engage in work there, since the project pays a lot more than equivalent projects in Antigua. Skilled tradesmen in Antigua are in demand.
ii. The Cabinet repeated its determination to ensure that all households in Barbuda, in existence before Hurricane Irma, will receive their plot of land on which their houses exist for $1.00 in consideration. The Cabinet further decided that it would provide every adult Barbudan, resident on Barbuda before the hurricane, with one acre of land to ensure that the Barbudans are treated as a priority.
2. An investment group from Jamaica has decided to create an entertainment and amusement centre at one of the many Forts that continue to exist after nearly three hundred years. The group will spend up to $5 million USD to make the old fort reflect history, as well as to allow for exploration of caves and other natural assets, including the use of a beach and a large rock which separates it from the Fort. The group has been around for more than 35 years and has developed many tourism sites in Barbados, Jamaica and other Caribbean islands. The group has been very successful and plans to arrange their site so that it attracts several generations of visitors.
3. The Cabinet invited the Director of the Institute of Applied Science and Research, to address the issue of pesticide use around Antigua and Barbuda. In cases of infants born in Antigua and Barbuda with malformed organs and retardation, it is likely the result of ingestion of mother’s milk that may contain remnants of flame retardants found in cars, baby seats, Teflon-coded cooking utensils, and other sources that the population utilizes regularly. The Fire Department and West Indies Oil Company utilize firefighting foams that are a source of the retardants. Mercury is a carcinogen that is found throughout the region in hair samples, makeup, fish, bleaching creams. More research is being done to identify alternatives. Heavy metals which are found in many products, including cellular phones, are disposed of in a manner that causes the spread of the chemicals and subsequent diseases in humans.
Sargassum is also filled with heavy metals; although, some of it which gets to our shores has been shipped to Finland. However, new methods of disposal are being considered, especially trying to capture the abundant seaweed before it gets to the shoreline, rots and releases toxins.
4. The Cabinet is persuaded that the vaccine mandates which compelled Government workers, students and teachers to vaccinate against Covid-19 account for the very high passes in the Common Entrance Exams. While Antigua and Barbuda received 89% passes, another Caribbean country that did not compel mandates received 39% pass. There was no Covid outbreak in any school and young students had more contact time with Teachers, in Antigua. The timing of the decisions governing Covid had evidently been very well-thought-out, the Cabinet concluded. Today the number of Covid-infected persons is relatively small and hospitalizations are at a bare minimum.
5. The brewing of beer in Antigua and Barbuda is drawing closer as the three partners involved have moved to more clearly agreed contractual arrangements among themselves. The Antigua Distillery Limited will be the major shareholder controlling 60% of the shares at Crabbes; Brewtech a German firm whose expertise in brewing beer is well established, and NAMCO will claim the remaining shares. The lease of the Crabbes Brewery will count as NAMCO’s contribution. The first bottles of beer will likely be brewed for consumption by Carnival 2023.
6. The Cabinet was informed by the Minister of Housing that three more houses, to be constructed at Paynters, will cause the National Housing to complete the project at that site. Olivers, just off All Saints Road adjacent to LICS Ltd, will likely be the next site for more than 100 houses. Other building sites will also see action by the National Housing and CHAPA as they continue to provide new homes to the families of the nation, and to meet the demand for more resilient and affordable homes.
7. The Cabinet was informed that the Sir Lester Bird Medical Centre (SLBMC) now has a full time cardiologist. That professional joins a full-time ophthalmologist, who has served the Medical Center for more than a year. Six kidney transplants have been undertaken thus far in Antigua, and more kidney transplants are likely to take place. Transplants are less costly than dialysis but identifying suitable donors has proven to be a challenge. A Cardiology Unit will be placed in the space now occupied by the Dialysis Unit, and the Renal Unit will be moved to the refurbished Edward Ward at the Old Holberton Hospital.
8. i. Tomorrow, Thursday the 14th of July, 2022, marks the 80th birthday of Sir John E. St. Luce. The Cabinet paid tribute to Sir John for having played many important roles in the governance of Antigua from 1971 up to 2004; 28 years were spent as an elected Member of Parliament and Minister of Government. He retired undefeated.
ii. Pastor John Farrell celebrates 60 years of Ministering and providing spiritual upliftment to several communities in Antigua and Barbuda. In recognition of his Church’s Ministry for that many years, the Cabinet pledged a small contribution towards his church’s continued Ministry.
9. The only Family Court within the OECS will be dedicated tomorrow, July 14, 2022, by the Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court. The large room which previously served as the Law Library in the High Court, has been transformed into a court room to serve exclusively as the Family Court. Antigua and Barbuda is the only OECS jurisdiction to create a court exclusively to hear family matters.
10. The Parliamentary Subcommittee of the Sex Registry will convene on Monday 26th July, to be chaired by the Attorney General. It will take place at the Parliament Building and the public is invited.