A new session of the Antigua and Barbuda government began on Friday, nearly a month after Prime Minister Gaston Browne led his Antigua and Barbuda Labor Party (ABLP) back into government promising a new era of socio-economic development.
Governor General Rodney Williams delivering the traditional Thorne speech, cautioned that 2018 would be a year of “decision making” but the investment climate is “getting good and better.”
Obstacles to be overcome
He said the World’s Bank’s ease of doing business finds that while Antigua and Barbuda is ahead of a number of Caribbean countries, there were still obstacles to overcome.
Medical marijuana policy
“It takes far too much time to register a new business, to pay taxes, to register properties, to getting credit and to solving insolvencies. My government is pledged to improving our systems …so that these deficiencies …can dramatically be improved”.
In his address, the Governor General said that the government would put in place policies to allow for medical marijuana products to be sold in the country.
“The plants will be grown, harvested and processed for the exclusive purpose of turning the vegetation into medicines that will be sold here in Antigua and Barbuda only for domestic use by residents and visitors.
“There will be no export of cannabis medicines. The medicines will be produced by laboratories that are specially licensed and controlled and their products tested for standards to which they must conform.”
He said the economic benefits to trained pharmacists, plant scientists and others involved in the process “can only be beneficial to all citizenry.”
Sir Rodney said the continued economic development of the country will be assured when the hurricane battered Barbuda is brought into the 21st century.
More jobs targeted for tourist sector
The Governor General also said there are also plans to generate more employment within the tourism sector on both islands with new hotel establishments bringing in millions of dollars in revenue.
“During the construction and post construction phases it is anticipated by my government that thousands of new jobs will be generated.”
He told legislators that voters had spoken in the March 21 general election and that ‘the voice of the people is the voice of God, adding that since 1937 when the first general election was held here “generations of Antiguans and Barbudans have demonstrated wisdom by carrying out 19 peaceful orderly elections over 81 years.”