The Cabinet commenced its first meeting, post-elections, with prayers from Major Pierre of the Salvation Army. Each month, a different priest from one of the several religious denominations in Antigua and Barbuda prays with the Cabinet, before the start of its weekly Wednesday meeting. The Cabinet is comprised of the Prime Minister who serves as Chairman, the Seven Ministers who have been appointed and assigned portfolios, and a Cabinet Secretary. The other elected member of the ABLP Team has been appointed Deputy Speaker.
1.i. The Cabinet invited to its meeting the Director, Permanent Secretary and the Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Works. The Works Department is the first to begin the re-set of the Ministries now that new Ministers have been appointed additional subject areas. It was decided that all contracts, both small and large, emanating from the Ministry of Works, will come before Cabinet for final approval in order to continue to achieve the transparency that the administration has been pursuing since 2014. This review of contracts will also govern in the case of National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) and the Central Board of Health (CBH).
ii. The Cabinet applauded the New Minister of Works and the Technical Team for addressing Lablahlie Street in Grays Farm/Green Bay. The plan to resurface that street using concrete has been rapidly advanced. Already, the cement, the steel, the aggregates and the machines necessary to complete the resurfacing are being moved in place to complete the resurfacing of that 200-plus yards of that strip of road within weeks.
iii. The Minister of Works reported that the resurfacing of the Anchorage Road has been halted until such time as the new pipes delivering water have been installed, since the existing pipes are more than 60 years old.
iv. The Minister also announced that a Rapid Response Team has been established for the purpose of ensuring that whenever large potholes appear in any street, the Team can be dispatched to make immediate repairs. The Cabinet anticipates that from time-to-time, especially after heavy rainfalls, potholes will appear in streets that are travelled by motorists.
v. The Cabinet also decided to bring all quarry and road unit workers up-to-date with owed overtime payments. The sum of money will be transferred from the Citizenship by Investment Programme to meet the outstanding obligations owed to quarry workers.
2. The Cabinet also invited the Chief Executive Officer of the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP). It was triggered by a notice sent out by the United Kingdom Government that its agency will be examining all the CIP Programmes in the English-speaking Caribbean, with a view to determine the extent to which those programs undermine the Security of the UK. Antigua and Barbuda has an extremely strong due diligence investigative machinery in place; it ensures that only those high-caliber applicants that have no negative reports are approved for citizenship.
3. The Minister of Education reports that there have been break-ins at several schools in the past week. He therefore proposed that, in addition to the patrols by the Police and the Military, more security features be added. The Cabinet agreed to increase security by way of additional cameras and alarm systems.
4. The Cabinet took a decision to hault temporarily the chartered flights emanating from West Africa. The rules governing the member-countries of the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA) are very strict; Antigua Airways had not complied fully with all of them. The organizers have pledged to fix all the deficiencies before resuming their service across the Atlantic from the Motherland.
5. The Cabinet has learned of the death of Dr. Sir Alford Walwyn, a National Honouree who provided decades of service to helping those whose eyesight had to be corrected. He was a great eye surgeon removing thousands of cataracts thereby causing improvement in patients’ ability to see. The Cabinet decided to offer an official funeral for this Knight Grand Cross recipient who will be buried next month.
6. The Members of the House of Representatives will take the Oath of Allegiance to be followed by the election of the Speaker, on the morning of February 17th, 2023. Later that afternoon, the members of the Senate will take the Oath of Allegiance followed by the Election of the President of the Senate. The Joint Sitting of both Houses of Parliament will convene on February 20th to hear the Speech from the Throne.