Post Cabinet Briefing for Monday, April 24, 2017

Basseterre, St. Kitts, April 27, 2017 (SKNIS)—On Monday, March 24, the formal meeting of the Cabinet took place. The meeting was chaired by Prime Minister, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris.
1. Cabinet engaged in a number of discussions pertaining to its manifesto commitment to pursue universal health coverage via a national insurance mechanism. Cabinet was sensitive to the cost of specialist health care services, which in many instances have to be provided abroad, and therefore determined that it should move expeditiously to help the majority of citizens, particularly the aged and the poor, to procure such services via the national health insurance. In this regard, Minister of Health, the Honourable Eugene Hamilton, has put together a committee to help advance its agenda. The committee will draw upon the work of the OECS (Organization of Eastern Caribbean States) Secretariat on this matter and would rely upon expertise drawn from PAHO (Pan-American Health Organization) and the University of the West Indies (UWI) in advancing a built-out of the national health insurance.

2. Cabinet approved a number of support initiatives to small and medium-sized businesses. Cabinet was pleased to have also noted that the government’s Fresh Start Programme has received tremendous public support and endorsement and in this regard over 500 plus applicants have already succeeded and 30 plus million dollars have been disbursed. The Fresh Start Programme is a signature programme of the Team Unity Government and is part of its conscious effort to ensure people empowerment and enhance enterprise and entrepreneurship in the country.

3. Cabinet approved the issuance of alien land holding licenses to allow non-nationals to be able to acquire lands and to become directors in a number of registered companies in St. Kitts and Nevis.

4. Cabinet considered a proposal from the Commissioner of Police for a restructuring of the traffic department and it is the expectation that over the next 18 months a re-organized, re-structured and modern traffic department will be in service of the people of St. Kitts and Nevis. With a population of fifty thousand (50,000) persons and the record showing a total of 30,796 vehicles are licensed in the Federation, with 28, 874 licensed drivers, it is time to restructure the traffic department. The department, which is to be headed by a superintendent, should consist of twelve (12) vehicles and twenty-seven (27) officers operating close to 24 hours daily. A Traffic Patrol Unit will be the best help to enforce bus stop regulations, cell phone use, no seatbelts, no helmets, littering, speeding, traffic signs and a whole lot of other offences we can think of that needs addressing. This unit will go a long way to make all motorists change their behaviours on the road.

5. Cabinet received an update from the minister of agriculture regarding the hosting of Agricultural Open Day 2017. The Agricultural Open Day is held this year April 27-28 at Laguerite under the theme “Boosting efficiency in the face of a changing environment”. The annual event is organized by the Department of Agriculture and emphasizes the work of farmers and their products and others in the agriculture sector. The day also provides an opportunity for the public to interact and better understand the role that agriculture plays in the economy.

6. Cabinet approved the establishment of the Hurricane Preparedness Committee. The Hurricane Preparedness Committee will be led by the Deputy Prime Minister, the Honourable Shawn Richards. As of April 1, 2017, the forecast for this year’s season is for the development of 11 named storms, four hurricanes, of which two can be category three and higher. The Hurricane Preparedness Committee is made up of several sub-committees including Medical and Public Health; Transport; Public Education, Communications and Warning; Food, Clearance and Shelter Management; Damage Assessment and Recovery; Housing and Shelter; Search, Rescue and Initial Clearance; Utilities; Foreign Assistance; and Environment.

7. The 2017 Independence activities/celebrations were also discussed and Senator the Honourable Wendy Phipps was approved by the Cabinet to spearhead this committee. She will be ably assisted by Mr. Osbert DeSuza, Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister. Senator Phipps is the first female to have chaired such an auspicious national committee. This year the focus is to be on youth.

8. Cabinet discussed and agreed the agenda for the next sitting of the National Assembly, which will be held in May.


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