The Cabinet meeting commenced with a prayer by a Minister of Religion who again referred the Members to the Book of Kings and the need for wisdom, infused with the guidance of the Almighty, in decision-making in governance.
1. The Cabinet’s attention was focused upon the issue of potable water production and achieving a 12 million-gallon-per-day objective; the APUA Water Division has set that goal in order to fulfil its obligation to all consumers. The six Reverse Osmosis plants on Antigua will be supplemented by two plants producing 1 million gallons each at Barnacle Point and at Ffryes. A reverse osmosis plant to be built in Bethesda in 2024 will produce 3.5 million gallons daily. The Minister of Public Utilities repeated that demand will be met fully before the end of the first quarter of 2024, or by March 31, 2024. Three new hotel projects, many new homes, and other new businesses will cause demand for more water to rise. The APUA, the Cabinet was assured, will be able to expand its supply to meet demand.
2. The Cabinet held a discussion pertaining to the several hotel projects that are destined for Barbuda. The Rosewood Hotel project is a low-density property that will cost more than 200 million dollars to construct, and will attract more high-income earners who are prepared to pay thousands of dollars-a-day to spend time in Barbuda. The ‘One and Only’ Hotel chain will also establish its presence in Barbuda. It is likely to be the largest of the hotels in that chain; it has a presence in several Middle East and European countries.
3. The Cabinet received a report on the operating theatres at the SLBMC. All the theatres will be repaired and become fully operational before Christmas 2023. A leaking pipe, an air conditioning duct, and other unhealthy conditions are being successfully addressed.
4. The Department of Agriculture that has been located near Country Pond for decades will be temporarily relocated to the Nugent Avenue facility for a period of 6 months to allow for the renovation of the old building. A part of the General Post Office will also be temporarily relocated to the same building on Nugent Avenue while renovations are carried out as well at the post office on Long Street.
5. The Attorney General reported that Antigua and Barbuda is a very safe OECS country. It does not suffer the same ailment as other OECS countries, as we have only reported 10 murders to date in 2023. Meanwhile, St. Kitts has reported 28, St. Lucia 77, St. Vincent and the Grenadines 55, Grenada 19, Guyana 100, Barbados 40, and Dominica 17 murders for the year. Antigua and Barbuda is well-policed, more peaceful, with more employment opportunities per capita than its neighbours. The Police recently apprehended two St. Lucian men who had been engaged in a spate of criminal activities; the Police recovered a trove of stolen items that were taken from merchants and others who suffered break-ins.
5. The Cabinet applauded the Ministry of Finance official and the Inland Revenue Department expert for appearing on national television to answer questions and to provide background information on the budget process. The Budget will be presented on Friday 15th December 2023.