The Cabinet began its meeting with prayers from an invited pastor of another denomination, who implored the administration to show courage as every Biblical leader has been wont to do on the urging of God. The Prime Minister proceeded to inform the members of the licences granted to three Rastafarian Groups who now have the legal authority to grow and utilize Cannabis, as a sacrament in their worship services. No other Eastern Caribbean country has so empowered the Rastafarians within their borders.
1. The Cabinet invited for discussions two business managers (planners) employed by the Jolly Beach Hotel. The property now has one hundred and sixty six (166) rooms available and one hundred and thirty two (132) employees. To date, US$2.2 million have been spent on refurbishing the hotel. The original hotel had four hundred and sixty four (464) rooms on 30 acres of land; however, a portion of the property on which rooms are currently constructed is to be sold, limiting the Jolly Beach Hotel to a much smaller scale. The managers reported that a number of upgrades must take place, to include: a 250,000 gallon water-storage tank; a reverse osmosis plant that produces 65,000 gallons per day; an electrical system to be upgraded; new air conditioning systems on the rooftops and other spaces; and, the property is to be properly fenced.
The planners announced that they will hire many plumbers, carpenters, electricians and other tradesmen ages 20-40 years, willing to work. Jolly beach is a part of the Elite group of hotels in Antigua. The managers told the Cabinet that they will be expanding Hammock Cove, and will be adding rooms to their other properties.
2. i. The Cabinet invited the managers of the National Housing and Urban Renewal Company to address the issue of the subsidy which new homeowners enjoy. Owing to an increase in the cost of the inputs in the construction industry, the cost of constructing homes has increased—even as the contracts to build those homes had been fixed. More than three hundred homeowners who contracted to purchase homes in 2019 and 2020, before Covid-19 was declared a pandemic, have enjoyed a heightened subsidy. The cost of building has increased, while the contracts reflected a fixed lower cost, when sold to the homeowners. The Cabinet and the Company have agreed that a price hike of homes would follow, to match the increased cost of the building materials; no date has yet been determined.
2.ii. The National Housing and Urban Renewal Company has built more than 700 hundred homes since its founding in 2014; although not connected to the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CHAPA), both government entities have together constructed more than 1,000 new homes since 2014. Hundreds of young men have been employed by the company in the construction of these homes.
2.iii. The National Housing and Urban Renewal Company will seek to enter into an agreement with the Antigua and Barbuda Institute of Continuing Education (ABICE) as the institute continues to expand its services. The ABICE continues to expand and to grow, making use of a grant by a wealthy Italian to construct additional classrooms. The ABICE will prepare many young men and women to acquire certification in a number of building trades and other specialties.
3. The Cabinet approved a breakfast plan for Glanville’s Secondary School, based on need. The daily breakfasts will be provided by the School Meals Programme, but the cost will be supplemented by resources from private sector charities. The Cabinet agreed that only a select number of primary schools now receive breakfast.
4. Two luminaries from the Ministry of Legal Affairs were invited to Cabinet to address a request for waiver of transfer fees on the sale of a property, purchased initially from the Crown, in 1988, and now being transferred to a non-citizen. The complex set of circumstances led to the determination today that a waiver of the tax is NOT warranted.
5. The Cabinet invited a Senior Counsel to share his views, by telephone, on the forced sale of the Alpha Nero—a very high-cost yacht that has been moored in Falmouth Harbour for more than one year. Ten days of publication in the newspapers, under Antigua and Barbuda law, is required for Notice to be deemed served on the owner. The interest in the sale has already attracted several global media houses. No owner has stepped forward since the vessel has been sanctioned by the USA and the UK. Discussions with US Government officials have taken place.