The Cabinet began its meeting at 10:45 am with prayers, based on the teachings found in Psalm 33, delivered by Reverend Judy Winspeare-Philip, a Moravian minister.
1. The Cabinet was informed by the Minister responsible for Public Works that repairs have been taking place on the roadway leading to Fort James. The surface of the road was virtually destroyed in order to plant the new polyethylene pipes that deliver potable water from the Fort James Reverse Osmosis Plant to a main transmission pipe, at the junction near the Barrymore Hotel on Fort Road. The engineers awaited some settling and certainty that the pipes were not leaking, before patching the roadway; full resurfacing will take place later in the year.
The Fort James Road is expected to serve thousands of vehicles on Monday, Labour Day, when the 72nd Anniversary of the holiday takes place. The roadway leading south to Ffryes Bay has already been resurfaced, as part of an ongoing project, which has seen a newly surfaced southern highway.
2. The Minister of Health reported that nurses remained away from their posts on Tuesday afternoon, causing the Sir Lester Bird Medical Center (SLBMC) to cancel some surgeries and to reduce other services that are usually provided by the hospital. The Minister indicated to the Cabinet that the number reporting for work today, Wednesday, increased but still has not returned to the usual level.
3. The Alfa Nero super yacht acquired by Antigua and Barbuda has not yet been sold. More than twenty bids were received yet the Officials have not selected the winner, until such time as the due diligence on each of the likely beneficial owners is complete. The sale is also dependent upon the completion of the de-listing by the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).
4. The Cabinet examined the paper written by the Solicitor General relating to dealings in land, as contemplated and espoused by the Barbuda Council. The Cabinet has instructed the Solicitor General to write to the Barbuda Councilor who announced that he would be granting leases and other kinds of permission to occupy land in Barbuda. That announced action is unlawful and subjects the wrongdoer to penal sanctions. The Cabinet also came to the conclusion that the Barbuda Land Act is to be expunged, and that the existing Register and law will adequately cover both Antigua and Barbuda.
5. The Minister of Education reported that the Sir Novelle Richards Academy is now fenced, removing one of the conditions that caused the Union of Teachers to withhold their labour following the post-Easter holidays. Installation of the cameras in a number of schools continues and other security measures are being taken to deter vandals from destroying schools’ property.
6. i. The Cabinet welcomed the Director of Analytical Services following a notice from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that its officials will visit Antigua, in less than two weeks. The Agency is to help determine the scope of work and staff complement that will be required of Antigua and Barbuda. The Agency will assist in establishing an Institute of Applied Sciences and Research; Laboratory Services; Research and Development Services; and other important functions that will be carried on at the places where the very expensive equipment, provided by the IAEA, is installed. The Department has two sites; one at Point Wharf and the other at Dunbars; repair work at Dunbars will soon be undertaken and Point Wharf will become the Center of the Department’s activities. The Government will also enact legislation regarding the establishment of the new Institute and its operations, at the next sitting of Parliament.
ii. The Director of Analytical Services remarked on the number of buildings occupied by Government employees that require repairs to many of the ventilation systems. As a consequence, the Central Government loses significant productive time by workers who call-in sick. Mention was made of one Government Department of seventy staff that have exhausted their 2023 annual sick leave at this time.
7. The Cabinet applauded the Trade Unions in Antigua and Barbuda that will be celebrating Labour Day on Monday 1st May. The Cabinet reminded that it is the 72nd Annual Celebration of Labour Day which commenced in 1951, without the benefit of the Law. In 1953, exactly 70 years ago, the Law was passed which enabled Labour Day to become a holiday for workers—but not without a struggle. The Cabinet urged everyone to stay safe during the workers’ holiday.