The Cabinet began its meeting at about 10:45 am with prayers conducted by a Catholic priest who prayed for the good governance that is the ambition of the current administration. The meeting ended at 6:00 pm.
1. The Cabinet received a report from the Prime Minister on his participation in the London coronation ceremonies of the new King of Antigua and Barbuda. The entire Antigua and Barbuda delegation was very well-received, the Prime Minister reported. Despite their participation, the Head of Government reiterated his administration’s determination to bring about a Republican form of Government, rather than continue ad infinitum the constitutional monarchy as now exists.
2. The Minister of Health reported that negotiations with the Nurses Association is close to completion. The successes with the ABUT formed the basis for the conclusion of the negotiations. Negotiations with several other unions, whose membership numbers are smaller, will soon commence. However, the Cabinet has reiterated its assertion of a few weeks ago; as the largest employer, the Government of Antigua and Barbuda can provide only moderate increases to wages and salaries, without requiring an increase in taxes to meet growth in expenditure.
3. The Prime Minister reported that the sale of the Alfa Nero superyacht is drawing ever closer. Reports from the Antigua and Barbuda Ambassador in Washington, USA, is that the US Treasury and the US State Department are collaborating to allow a new owner to take possession and be allowed to sail freely into US waters and elsewhere. The proceeds from the sale will go towards paying the debts incurred, since the vessel sailed into Antigua’s harbours more than one year ago. The overage will go into the Consolidated Fund operated by the Antigua and Barbuda Treasury.
4. The Minister with responsibility for Technology reported that the Barbuda Land Registry is very close to completion, following significant expenditure of time and talent. In a matter of one week, all the data compiled would have been entered electronically. The data will be incorporated into the same Registry, or database, that stores all transactions in land in Antigua. It is therefore likely that those who would normally utilize the services offered by the Department of Lands and Surveys can also access Barbuda’s data.
5. The Cabinet invited the Supervisor of Elections to join its members in order to bid her farewell, as she prepares to demit office. The office of Supervisor of Elections is a creature of the Antigua and Barbuda Constitution; and, the Parliament was required to set the age of mandatory retirement which is at 75 years. The Dame has not yet reached that age, but has spent more than 50 years in the service of the Government and prefers to enjoy her retirement while she enjoys good health. She was accompanied by Ian Hughes, the Deputy, and John Jarvis, the Chairman of the Electoral Commission. There has been a proposal to marry the Electoral Commission and the Supervisor’s role, when constitutional reform is being considered. There is some support for this proposal, the Cabinet agreed. No decision was made.
6. The Development Commissioner, who traveled to Nigeria to meet with the Chief Executive Officer of Air Peace, was invited by the Cabinet to share his findings as pertains to the investment which may be made in LIAT by this largest of Nigeria’s airlines. Negotiations continue as the Gaston Browne administration seeks to find new partners to turn LIAT into a profitable firm which also provides connectivity to the Eastern Caribbean island-countries and people. The absence of a full-service LIAT has caused travel throughout the region to be erratic and insufficient. LIAT is sorely missed. Every effort is being made by Antigua and Barbuda to cause LIAT to fulfil its mission of keeping Caribbean peoples connected.
7.i. The Attorney General reported that the three young males—ages 14, 15, and 17—have been returned to the former US Bases Air Station at Coolidge, following the reinforcement of the roof through which the trio escaped earlier. They were temporarily housed at HMP while the reinforcement was undertaken. The youth are supervised by prison officers.
7.ii. The Minister of Education Sports and the Creative Industries reported on the recent symposium held on youth violence, and the outcomes of that important conference. The most significant item on which the conferees agreed would be the start of the public campaign, aimed at reducing youth violence. The campaign will begin immediately by undertaking three doable actions:
a. Establishing a hotline to provide information anonymously
b. Reaching out to all young people by organizing an anti-violence public awareness campaign using promoters, artists, NGO’s, schools, churches etc
c. Random “Stop and Search” by the Police.
8. The Cabinet voted to pay for dust suppression systems at two Government quarries—Burma and Bendals. The first is to be purchased for the Bendals Quarry, and the second will be installed at Burma to protect the residents of Pigotts. The total amount to be spent will be $250,000. The Ministry of Works will undertake to install the same.