HURST REPORTS ON CABINET of Wednesday 15 February 2023
The Cabinet commenced its meeting with prayers from a Pastor of the Seventh Day Adventist religion, invoking God’s presence. The Cabinet was led by the Honourable Attorney General in the absence of the Prime Minister who is attending a CARICOM Heads’ Meeting in the Bahamas. The Ministerial team attending the CARICOM Heads meeting returns on Thursday, in order for the elected members to take their oath of office on Friday morning at the Parliament.
The Cabinet invited the Electricity Manager and one Electricity Engineer, both from APUA, to its meeting in order to enquire into the speeding-up of lighting of dark areas in the City of St. John’s and its environs. The question of personal security and of having well-lit areas at night, to discourage criminal activity, has been pursued by Cabinet. The APUA Electricity Manager pointed to on-going road repairs and road-building by the Ministry of Works that cause a halt in erecting light poles. The Manager also informed that more than 100 wooden poles are currently in APUA’s possession, allowing for additional lights where necessary. The Manager also reported that the gifted solar street-lights could have been better engineered; the batteries were far too low on the pole, allowing for thievery. Nevertheless, the APUA is determined to make the most of the stored ones remaining, soonest.
The Minister of Public Utilities made a report on water production and distribution, and his plans to address both. Turbidity of the ocean has made the intake of water from the sea impossible at times; consequently, APUA will likely follow other nations and construct deep wells on land near the ocean into which filtered water will flow from the sea. That water will remain a source for desalination even when the sea is rough. The Minister visited virtually every reverse osmosis plant in order to get a first-hand look at the challenges which they face. The plants require security fencing and security cameras in order to guard against mischief and vandalism. Spare parts for the plants have also been an issue which the Minister is addressing; when plants are shut-off, the ability to supply the homeowners with potable water is a real challenge during this drought.
The Attorney General reported on his role as the new Immigration Minister. He applauded the Immigration Department for their hard work and for helping to keep the borders of Antigua and Barbuda secure. He determined that additional training and other improvements to benefit the Immigration personnel will be forthcoming. Coordination among the several law enforcement agencies is encouraged and, as the Minister responsible for Public Safety, he intends to achieve maximum collaboration among the agencies.
The Attorney General and the Minister of Education also addressed the issue of increased violence among youths, public fights among students, and the protection of school property. The A.G. noted that the law addressing the treatment of youthful criminals is already in place. He will ensure that the Boys’ Training School receives all the attention necessary to bring it back on stream shortly, such that those who are intent on creating mayhem can be restrained. The Cabinet agreed that the recalcitrant boys lack certain social skills; hence, emphasis will be placed on teaching those skills to the resident boys. The AG encourages parents to pay far more attention to their youthful charges than is now taking place.
The Attorney General announced that the new Superintendent of the Prison will shortly be installed in the person of Colonel Pennyfeather. The new Superintendent has been given the responsibility to reorganize and restructure the prison services and to complete the upgrade of the prison cells that have been started. The Cabinet took the opportunity to thank Captain Anthony for his valuable services to the prison, over the years.
The Minister of Health was applauded once more for the successful kidney transplants that took place 2 weeks ago at the SLBMC. He noted, however, that organ donors needed protection against discrimination. Model legislation, to be introduced in Antigua and Barbuda, will prevent discrimination by insurance companies, banks and financial institutions that may show hesitancy in providing services to donors. The companies will be barred from discriminating against this group.
The Minister of Tourism reported on the second homeporting exercise by the Ariva Vessel and the changes to the land-side operations on Lower Newgate Street. The income generated by the movement of passengers from the airport to the Port , and reversed when the tour ends, is welcomed by all.
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