Cabinet convened at about 10:30 am and concluded at 3:30 pm. A Methodist minister delivered the customary prayers, urging members to keep God in their decision-making, always. An intense discussion followed on constitutional reform, and the need to establish a Constitutional Review Commission to examine all likely amendments to the 1981 Antigua and Barbuda Constitution Order.
1. The Attorney General reported that a notice to the newspapers and other media will be published for a period of ten days, notifying of the sale of the Alpha Nero Vessel in order to satisfy the requirements under the law for a forced sale. If the owner fails to claim the vessel within that time period, the Government of Antigua and Barbuda, having declared the vessel a hazard to shipping and to the harbour where it is moored, will sell it to the highest bidder. The vessel has been in Antiguan waters for more than a year and has remained in the same position ever since. Its staff has not been paid and neither has the provider of its fuel (that it has consumed, since arriving).
2. A benefactor who has great love for Antigua and Barbuda has purchased a Security System of cameras and monitoring devices to address the problem of security at schools. The Cabinet expressed its gratitude to the benefactor. The Security System may likely be installed within a short period of time fulfilling the commitment of the Ministry of Education, Sports and Creative Industries.
3. A preliminary report on the West Africans, who have remained in Antigua since arriving in December. Nonetheless, the Cabinet held an intense discussion on the likely future of the hapless migrants who have found themselves stranded in Antigua. The members took note of the decision of the High Court of Trinidad and Tobago to deny that Government the authority to deport West Africans to their homeland. Only a small number have indicated a desire to return.
4. Another wealthy investor has shown an interest in developing Callaloo Quay. The Cabinet members will travel together on Thursday afternoon with the investor and other officials of the Government to examine the site, and to ensure that the expectations of the interested parties are all met.
5. The Cabinet held a discussion on lowering the cost of living, to the extent possible. Bearing in mind that the cost of shipping goods has increased significantly all along the supply chain, triggered by increased fuel prices, food prices especially have escalated in Antigua and Barbuda. The Russian/Ukranian War and the embargo placed upon Russian fuel, usually sold to Europe and elsewhere, have resulted in global shortages that have driven prices upwards. The Cabinet took the decision to encourage backyard gardening and to encourage the use of scientific means to increase the customary yield of farmers by 25%. The members were acting on advice given by experts that have noted imported produce exceed significantly farm-grown domestic produce. The Cabinet also considered granting additional support to chicken farmers, taking into account the increased cost of baby chicks imported from several places.
6. The Cabinet has agreed that the Attorney General will take to Parliament an amendment to the Evidence Act that will allow images from Policemen Body Cameras to be allowed into evidence, whenever the need arises. More than a dozen bills will have their first reading on Thursday when the Budget speech is presented.
7. An agreement to repair and paint the Point Wharf is being negotiated. The object is to improve the aesthetics of buildings on the shoreline, so that passengers entering the Harbour by cruise ship will see modern harbour buildings and a freshly painted Point Wharf, Heritage Quay and Redcliffe Quay, all of a very high standard. The Cabinet examined the report by the Minister of Agriculture following his tour of the Point Wharf, and the Cabinet agreed to:
-the upgrading of the freezers at all the fisheries complexes
-the upgrading of the boardwalk at the referenced fish landing site after a review by PWD of an estimate received for the construction work
-the general clean up of the environs
-the repair to the roof at the processing unit at the the Point Fisheries Complex
8. The Minister of Public Utilities reported that the newly built Airport in Barbuda is about to receive power running from Codrington and, will examine the feasibility of placing the cables underground to achieve greater sustainability. Several experts will accompany the Minister to Barbuda on Friday 3rd March to carry out a full assessment. The Minister further reported that one of two units that were inoperable at Ffryes Reverse Osmosis Plant has been repaired; an additional amounts of potable water is now being supplied to people in Jennings, Ebenezer and other communities in the south. The Minister also informed that an Ultra Filtration System, for use during times when there is turbidity in the sea, and when Reverse Osmosis Plants are usually shutdown, has been purchased for use at the Fort James Reverse Osmosis Plant.