CABINET NOTES of Wednesday 7 December 2022

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Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Antigua News Room

HURST REPORTS ON CABINET of Wednesday 7 December 2022

The meeting commenced at approximately 10:30 am and ended at 4:30 pm, all members present.

The Cabinet noted that all November salaries, wages, pensions and social security earnings were paid over to recipients on or before November 30, 2022. The Social Security pension is now fully paid-up and the recipients are all pleased for the early payments. Given the practice of paying salaries before the Christmas Holiday, the Cabinet has begun to secure the necessary funds that will enable duplicate payments to be made on or before December 16, 2022. That amount exceeds $31 million. Back-pay will be determined by the agreements reached between Government and the unions, as increases continue to be negotiated.
In keeping with the customary ABST relief from 15% to 5% during a Christmas weekend, the Cabinet decided that the practice will continue this year with Friday 16th, Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th December to be ABST reduction days. Both merchants and shoppers welcome the initiative since it spurs sales, eases the burden on the pocket during this festive season. Merchants participating in the ABST Reduction period are encouraged to contact and register with the Inland Revenue Department.
There will be a National Service of Thanksgiving on Sunday 1st January 2023 at the St. John’s Pentecostal House of Restoration at 4:30 pm. The National Church Service of Thanksgiving has been held on the first Sunday of January each year since 2015, and has become a part of the calendar of worshipful events for the Gaston Browne administration.

On Friday December 9th, V.C Bird Day, prayers will be said beginning at 9am at the V.C Bird Bust at Market Square. Activities on V.C Bird Day, a holiday, will include a cricket match at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium between West Indies Women and England Women; entrance to the match is free. Also taking place at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium on V.C Bird Day is ‘Taste of Wadadli’, an event spearheaded by the Ministry of Tourism. The event is set to display the very best of our food, culture and entertainment starting at 11am. All are encouraged to attend.

The Cabinet took note of the importance which the national air wing – The Antigua & Barbuda Defense Force Aircraft—has played in saving many lives especially by flying to Barbuda to bring ill Barbudans to Antigua to be hospitalized at the Sir Lester Bird Medical Centre. The Cabinet determined that they will enlarge the air wing in the New Year by adding another 9-seater aircraft to expand its fleet, which will have the responsibilities to rescue sailors and other persons from Barbuda and neighboring islands, requiring medical attention at the Sir Lester Bird Medical Center.
The Minister of Health reported that one infant’s life was saved when she underwent a liver transplant after having been flown out of Antigua. Because of the infrequency with which liver transplants are required, the Sir Lester Bird Medical Centre has been gearing up to, instead, undertake more Kidney Transplants. A brand new Renal Center, which will include more dialysis machines, will be launched early in the New Year when the construction and the outfitting of the new building will be completed. The new building is located on the grounds of the old Holberton Hospital. When the dialysis unit is transferred to its new location, the space at the SLBMC will then be occupied by a new Cardiac Unit to assist with persons suffering from heart conditions. Because few live donors step forward to gift a kidney to a relative, friend or stranger, consideration is being given to amending the law allowing for Kidney farming to take place.
The Cabinet applauded Minister Charles ‘Max’ Fernandez for the opening of the 5th Berth during the Ministry’s Tourism Week of celebrations. Prime Minister and other Cabinet colleagues joined the Tourism Minister at Heritage Quay earlier this week to celebrate what is expected to be another record-breaking tourism season. The 5th Berth was built primarily to accommodate the Oasis class ships, the largest cruise vessels in the world, capable of carrying over 5,000 passengers and 2,500 crew, requiring a draught of 38 feet. During the opening ceremony, the audience witnessed the docking of five (5) cruise vessels at the Antigua Cruise Port.
On Thursday 8th December at 2pm, hundreds of people will join the Prime Minister and Members of Cabinet to join in the opening of the Cargo Port at the Deep Water Harbour. The Port was first built and dredged in 1968 by the then ALP Administration and has lasted 50 years. The redevelopment and expansion of the Port will now allow it to engage in transshipment activities and centralized shipping services, making it the largest Cargo Port in the OECS. The loan from the China ExIm Bank of 97million USD allowed for the improvements to take place, The Antigua Barbuda government negotiated a long moratorium along with concessionary interest rates.
On the 20th December 2022, the new Embassy of the People’s Republic of China on Marble Hill Road will officially be opened. Antigua and Barbuda has enjoyed 40 years of diplomatic and friendly relations with the People’s Republic of China.

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