Post-Cabinet Briefing for Monday, June 13th, 2016

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, JUNE 17th, 2016 (PRESS SEC) – The formal meeting of the Cabinet took place on Monday, June 13th, 2016. The meeting was chaired by Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris.

The Cabinet of Ministers received a report from the Honourable Prime Minister regarding his official visits to Canada and the United Nations in New York.

1. Prime Minister Harris and a delegation comprising of Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Honourable Mark Brantley; Cabinet Secretary, Mrs. Josephine Huggins, and St. Kitts and Nevis’ High Commissioner to Canada, Her Excellency Shirley Skerritt-Andrew, held discussions with Canadian authorities on a range of issues of mutual interest. In his report to the Cabinet, the Honourable Prime Minister described the meeting as very productive and positive.

2. At the United Nations, the Honourable Prime Minister addressed the General Assembly’s three-day high-level plenary meeting on HIV/AIDS in his capacity as CARICOM’s Lead Head on Human Resources, Health and HIV/AIDS. Supporting the Honourable Prime Minister were Minister of State in the Ministry of Health et al., the Honourable Senator Wendy Phipps; St. Kitts and Nevis Permanent Representative to the United Nations, His Excellency Sam Condor, and staff of the Permanent Mission of St. Kitts and Nevis to the U.N. who made up the delegation from St. Kitts and Nevis.

Prime Minister Harris updated the United Nations General Assembly on the Caribbean’s progress in combating HIV/AIDS within the last decade, stating specifically that between 2006 and 2015 the HIV prevalence rate dropped 50% from 2.2% to 1.1%, the estimated number of people living with HIV receiving antiretroviral therapy increased from under 5% to 44%, and AIDS-related deaths declined from approximately 20,000 to 8,800. The Honourable Prime Minister also said that the Caribbean aspires to be the first region in the world to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV, as 10 CARICOM states including St. Kitts and Nevis are already on target to achieve zero cases of mother-to-child transmission by 2030. On June 30th, 2015, Cuba became the first country in the world to receive validation from the World Health Organization that it has eliminated mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis.

3. Cabinet noted that the 2016 hurricane season officially started on June 1st and will run up to November 30th. In this regard, the Cabinet of Ministers discussed the need for the St. Kitts-Nevis National Disaster Mitigation Council to meet to coordinate disaster mitigation planning and implementation. The Deputy Prime Minister is designated as the Chairperson of the Mitigation Council, which comprises permanent secretaries, heads of key response agencies, non-governmental organizations, the media and private sector representatives. Its terms of reference are, inter alia, to meet at least once a year and in the case of an emergency or a disaster; to guide the disaster mitigation activities in St. Kitts-Nevis, to ensure coordination and compatibility between disaster mitigation activities in St. Kitts and Nevis, and to review the National Disaster Plan and recommend it for approval.

4. The Cabinet of Ministers proposed that planning should commence immediately for the 2016 Independence Activities. It was decided that the 2016 National Independence Committee should be established under the leadership of Minister of State in the Ministry of Health et al., the Honourable Senator Wendy Phipps. The Cabinet envisages a high level of participation from citizens and residents during the Independence Celebrations, as well as in the lead-up activities, for instance by nominating candidates for National Honours Awards. The National Honours Awards programme, which forms part of the annual Independence Celebrations, recognizes citizens for their contributions to the nation. Nominations are first solicited from the general public then reviewed by an awards committee. His Excellency the Governor General, in accordance with the advice of the Honourable Prime Minister and from the recommendation of the National Awards Committee, approves the recipients. The Office of the Prime Minister wishes to inform the General Public that the National Honours Award nomination forms can be collected at the Security Desk in Government Headquarters on Church Street. The forms are to be completed and submitted to the Cabinet Secretary, Office of the Prime Minister, Government Headquarters, Church Street, Basseterre, St. Kitts, no later than July 29th, 2016.

5. The Cabinet of Ministers discussed matters relating to the National Heroes Park. The Cabinet receives updates on the National Heroes Park as part of its ongoing consultation with the National Heroes Park Committee. During the Prime Minister’s Monthly Press Conference on May 30th, 2016, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris said the three-acre National Heroes Park will be constructed on lands abutting the Kim Collins Highway and Conaree and financed by the Government of Taiwan. Construction of the park will commence near the end of July 2016 and the estimated cost is approximately EC$2 million. According to the seven-member National Heroes Park Committee chaired by Mr. Osbert DeSuza, Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, the estimated cost of the project will cover design and project management, site activities, fencing, drainage, sewage treatment, landscaping, parking, an arrival building, a grand gate entrance, an interpretation centre, restrooms, benches, sculptures/monuments, shades, and other amenities.

6. The Cabinet discussed elements of the Government’s good governance agenda, as well as upcoming legislation in the St. Kitts and Nevis National Assembly.

7. The Cabinet of Ministers also met with the executive of the St. Kitts and Nevis Olympic Committee regarding the Federation’s participation in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games scheduled to take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil between August 5th and 21st. The Cabinet was brought up to date on a number of matters, such as the procedures outlined by the International Olympic Committee regarding the participation and responsibilities of local organizing committees, as well as individual athletes and participants. The Cabinet also raised the concerns voiced by the public over the “impasse” between the St. Kitts and Nevis Olympic Committee and Kim Collins, a four-time Olympian in the 100 metres. Cabinet conveyed hope and optimism that the situation can be resolved to everyone’s satisfaction, and to the credit of our beloved country.

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