COMMENTARY – All were on Antigua and Barbuda for the 15th conference of Presidents and Governors-General (Excellencies) of the Caribbean region, March 29 – March 31, 2016, at Sandals Grande Antigua, under the theme, The Commonwealth in a Changing Caribbean.
Minister for tourism, investment, economic development and energy, Asot Michael, in a message stated:
“I truly recognize the importance of these meetings as the work directly impacts the economic and social development of not only our individual countries, but also the greater overall region. Individually, we are relatively small countries comparatively, but together we can easily leverage our combined considerable strengths to create the greatest impact.”
It’s always great when clear economic thinking and creative solutions are sync with the allure of Antigua and Barbuda’s targeted marketing, promotion and economic development objectives. It is clear that the upshot to achieve this is has been established by government with purpose, for affirmative sustainable impact. See: The allure of Antigua and Barbuda
As island states in a changing Caribbean, it is irrefutable that the essential need is to promote innovation and foster efficiency for greater prosperity to resonate throughout the fabric of the region. The significance of this is to invest in skills development, education and leadership, in order to advance with exceptional focus and wisdom, as demonstrated by their excellencies throughout their interactive sessions.
Partnership provides access, new toolkits to network, build ideas and advance. With this undertaking, good governance is indispensable to leverage socio-economic expansion. Prime Minister Gaston Brown continues to strive in that direction by laying the cultural, social and economic policy positions in a clear and concise manner for the benefit of Antigua and Barbuda.
Under his leadership the twin island nation is breaking new ground with competence, efficiency and sound judgment to become “the economic powerhouse of the Caribbean.”
To harmonize the essential ingredient to success, parliament continues to make progress. The Advance Passenger Information Bill 2016, a CARICOM uniform legislation, was passed in the lower house of parliament, including amendments to the Immigration and Passport Act 2014, earlier this month. This is also a requirement by international partners, including Interpol, in continuance of enhance safety measures, security and compliance. It is also instructive that the spanking new V.C. Bird International Airport expects an upsurge in airlift and passenger traffic.
In this global environment safeguards against economic terrorism and in every aspect of the tourism product and national security is a major priority. Understanding this requires good intelligence, competent application of the rule of law, a disciplined police force and a functioning justice system. Rights and responsibilities require a lot of astuteness to discover more collaboration for the success of new investments and existing business enterprise.
These are also principal components necessary to uphold the quality and quantity of investments that, Prime Minister Gaston Brown is flexing his expertise to attract, in rapid sequence for Antigua and Barbuda.
The vision and strength of this is evident by means of:
- EC $2 billion, Yida development for Guiana Island;
- Paradise Found hotel in Barbuda;
- Tamarind Hill expansion;
- Willoughby Bay Project;
- US$52 million Labahia Hotel Resort and Condominiums in Friars Hill, Marble Hill location (a multi-storied 120 one- and two- bedroom fully furnished self contained luxury condominiums and several penthouse suites, include a 24,000 square ft. futuristic conference facility, a 300 capacity car park area, restaurants, a gym, tennis courts, gardens with walking paths, essential shops and an Olympic size swimming pool.
Asot Michael’s remarks at the groundbreaking ceremony stated:
“Today is yet another day in Antigua and Barbuda’s leap towards fulfilling the expectations of the people and bringing another major investment The Labahia Hotel Resort & Condominiums – between the Adams Investment Management (Antigua) Ltd, and the government of Antigua and Barbuda that will provide jobs, safety in housing, and the international acclaim that we in this country strive for as a tourist destination second to none.
“My ministry, my prime minister, and the Cabinet in which I serve, have sought out and continue to attract credible investors with the expertise to assist in this country’s transformation and sustainable national development. We have attracted the attention of highly professional investors in the construction and development business: while placing the country on a trajectory to fast becoming the economic powerhouse in the region, will be specifically adding value to our tourism product, the main economic lifeline in this country.
“The project has already received approval in principal from the Development Control Authority. Total construction phase is projected to run between 18 – 24 months. Given the absence of a state-of-the-art conference centre on island, and in light of the government’s vision for our country’s development, this conference facility will be a welcome addition to our tourism product and now allow us to actively promote the destination as one that can attract business from the lucrative ‘Meeting, Incentives and Conference Events (MICE)’ market.
“While development and construction will begin shortly, the payment for the land, which is some US$1.3 million dollars, is to take place after the project has been completed.”
Asot Michael recognized investors and project developers, Imtiyaz Adam and Farman Ramjohn, both respected and well known accomplished businessmen from Trinidad and Tobago who have made the bold decision to make a tangible investment in Antigua and Barbuda.
Another much anticipated project is the expansion of Heritage Quay Pier by 150 meters to accommodate the Quantum class cruise vessels. This remodeling coincides with major upgrades up and down that corridor and by extension the capital, St John’s.
Rarely has the government of Antigua and Barbuda, the Tourism Authority, the Investment Authority, other business and investment entity’s been so robust, with a socio-economic development thrust illustrated above.
With a focus on new alliances, the open secret is that’s not all! New opportunities and economic leverage continue to spread across Antigua and Barbuda. So to, are the tools of diplomacy making positive strides within and beyond, the Commonwealth in a changing Caribbean.
Prime Minister Gaston Brown’s message to their excellencies affirmed that:
“The Commonwealth Caribbean region is on the cusp of a new phase in its history. Our tethering to a distant past, mired in exploitation and limited growth possibilities, is about to be plucked from its historical moorings. The elected leaders of the CARICOM region have set a new trajectory that will place Caribbean civilization in a new sphere.
“Antigua and Barbuda will become the economic powerhouse of the Caribbean, our people have agreed, because of the many new wealth-creation possibilities which are being introduced.”
Moreover, their excellencies’ closing communiqué:
“Supported the need for continuous high-level dialogue and partnerships among the heads of state, which will help to provide timely interventions on the numerous social challenges which face the Caribbean and the wider Commonwealth and Agreed that although their functions are circumscribed by their individual constitutions and laws, their capacity to influence, intercede and empower is broad in scope and rich in potential and will utilise these privileges to advance the peoples of the Caribbean and wider Commonwealth.”
Conventional wisdom reveals Antigua and Barbuda is adapting positively to the global landscape in a changing Caribbean. While making use of diverse strategies to ensure that the public interest is served.
In continuance of the “new sphere” alluded to by Prime Minister Gaston Brown to their excellencies, his message is persistent:
“New systems for generating additional economic opportunities will lift the vast majority out of poverty and into a very comfortable material future. By utilizing their high moral platform to spread influence, the heads of state will help to make these new systems acceptable to the majority.”
The perception is Prime Minister Gaston Browne’s affirmations are instructive within the ambit of a newly defined tourism product, new industrial amenities, new joint ventures, sustainable socio economic opportunities and modern physical infrastructure components, designed to offer integral advantages for Antigua and Barbuda.
A provision that is ingrained in accordance with his government’s strategic formulation and effective planning to Antigua and Barbuda’s economic growth and national development becoming “the economic powerhouse of the Caribbean”.
Melanius Alphonse is a management and development consultant, a long-standing senior correspondent and a contributing columnist to Caribbean News Now. His areas of focus include political, economic and global security developments, and on the latest news and opinion. His philanthropic interests include advocating for community development, social justice, economic freedom and equality. He contributes to special programming on Radio Free Iyanola, RFI 102.1FM and NewsNow Global analysis. He can be reached at [email protected]