The Cabinet meeting commenced with a prayer by a Minister of religion followed by a discussion on the Cancer Centre. It was anticipated that progress would have been made with the majority owner of the shares in the Cancer Centre who is demanding EC$40 million dollars for a building that has been valued at EC$9 million. The Cabinet then invited into its meeting a local medical practitioner and two investors who have an interest in operating from that building.
1. The local medical practitioner, accompanied by two investors, expressed an interest in purchasing the building in order to operate therefrom a new anti-cancer treatment method, utilizing an innovative approach. The investors are interested in treating many whom they would induce to come to Antigua for this special treatment. It is claimed that their treatment method can cure many cancers without radiation and chemotherapy. Their methodology is intended to attack the cancer cells and to leave other cells unaffected; hence, cancer patients who utilize their method are made whole rather than made ill or weakened by radiation and chemotherapy. The investors agreed to treat nationals and residents of Antigua and Barbuda utilizing their system at a fraction of the cost charged to well-off clients coming from developed countries. Other offers were made to repair the machines that are in the building, so that those who wish to get the traditional treatment for cancer could continue to receive the same. The Cabinet agreed to return to the item next week Wednesday when a firm decision will be made.
2. The Cabinet invited the Chief of Immigration Officer, six of her senior officers; the Chairman, the General Manager (Ag.) and several officers of the Antigua and Barbuda Airport Authority (ABBA) to its meeting, in order to address the issue of crowding at the airport on Saturday and Sunday afternoons when as many as a thousand tourists land at the VC Bird International Airport within a two hour period. It was determined that all eight (8) immigration booths are to be manned by officers in order to greatly reduce the wait-time of passengers to be cleared. While that was agreed, the Immigration Officers reminded that the elimination of hand written E/D Cards for entry, if replaced by electronic systems will greatly accelerate the time which visitors, arriving in Antigua, will spend in the crowded airport.
2.i. The ABAA officials called for additional resources to enable the kiosks to be built and deployed in the arrivals area and for the necessary computer programmes to be installed for increased efficiency and effective services.
2.ii. The Immigration Department also reported that homeporting at Heritage Quay requires its officers to be present at five (5) different entry points; consequently, the demands on the immigration service have caused a stretching of the human resource component. As such, they requested of the Cabinet to hire additional immigration officers who, after a three month training programme, could be deployed to meet the needs of the seaport.
3. The Commissioner of Police of Antigua and Barbuda was invited to the Cabinet along with the Top Brass of the RPFAB. The Commissioner provided comprehensive data on crimes and arrests in Antigua and Barbuda in the year just ended (2023), compared to previous years. There has been a negligible change in petty crime in 2023 over 2022; and it was also reported that there has been a minute reduction in road fatalities between both years. The police reported that trained dogs were assisting in catching those who attempted to import illicit drugs, firearms, and other contraband. Eight (8) officers are trained to operate the K-9 unit. The police are preparing for the May 27th – 30th United Nations Small Island Developing States Conference. Approximately 5,000 delegates are expected to spend almost one week in several hotels across the island. The Police are also responsible for collecting revenue for various activities and collected more than EC$1 million. The Commissioner will join Minister Nicholas on the ABS TV/Post Cabinet Press Conference on Thursday morning.
3.i. The Superintendent of the Fire Department addressed the Cabinet on the need for laddered trucks since many of the new buildings being constructed in Antigua and Barbuda are no longer single storied. As such, more laddered trucks are needed.
4. The Cabinet held a truncated session in order for its members to attend the funeral of Albert ‘Kentae’ Semper. Yesterday was the third funeral attended by Prime Minister for the first full week in January 2024.