The fifth session of Parliament, signaling the opening of the legislative year, opened today, January 20, with the usual pomp and ceremony and a Speech from the Throne.
Governor General Sir Rodney Williams delivered an address entitled “MANAGING THE COVID-19 CHALLENGES: Growing the Economy and Building Resilience.”
He addressed a number of issues, including the challenges of the pandemic; growing the economy in light of the pandemic; tackling climate change; water supply and food production; and new Bills that will be passed this year.
The Governor-General did not mention any of the Government’s plans for this year, except for the commissioning and construction of Reverse Osmosis plants across the island.
In order to meet the growing demand for potable water, Sir Rodney says, the Antigua Public Utilities Authority has now moved beyond planning and will be in the implementation phase this year.
Its goal is to produce an estimated 10 million gallons of water per day, which is reportedly well above the expected daily demands of eight million.
Further, in responding to the urgent needs of residents, the Governor-General says the Authority will be commissioning the Japanese funded R/O Plant by this weekend.
This plant will bring the complement of units at Ffryes Beach to four; and it should become operational within the first quarter of this year, he says, greatly improving water capacity.
The Pigeon Point R/O Plant was installed in 2016 with a daily production capacity of 300,000 gallons; while the Ivan Rodrigues R/O plant at Shell Beach was installed in 2017, with a daily production capacity of 1.7 million gallons.
Meanwhile, Sir Rodney says that during the past two years of COVID-19 and a decline in tourism, construction played a more significant role than before in the country’s economic turnaround.
He says the Development Control Authority “facilitated the more efficient issuance of start-up permits and licenses as a means of increasing home-building and to spur other construction projects.”
According to Sir Rodney, almost 1,000 parcels of land have also been identified for homeowner distribution, while the Central Housing and Planning Authority has built more than 100 homes.
He claims that National Housing has also constructed hundreds of new houses to meet the demand.