St. John’s Antigua- Both sides of the political divide in Barbuda have agreed to proposals that could be used to jumpstart the island’s ailing economy.
Council members went back to the drawing board on Tuesday to devise strategies to generate much needed finances for the sister isle, since the cessation of sand mining.
Among the proposals outlined by deputy chairman of the council Fabian Jones yesterday were the possibility of the island colleting its own Environmental Tax from visiting yachts, a 12-acre agricultural programme and implementing changes that would facilitate ease of doing business.
A follow-up meeting will be held on May 1 to decide how the council will proceed to implement the recommendations, after a planned meeting with government.
Antigua Labour Party (ALP) Senator Arthur Nibbs has thrown his support behind the list of recommendations.
Nibbs told OBSERVER Media he is optimistic about the plans and hopes that the council would put the proverbial “pedal to the wheel” to get these programmes going.
“It is our hope however, that it would not just be like the other meetings of council, where resolutions have been made and then nothing comes of them,” he said.
Nibbs said he is in favour of the recommendations, with the exception of the proposed agriculture programme.
He said for this to be successful, the production should be left in the hands of the farmers and marketing and sales of the produce could be dealt with by the council.
The programme, put forward by the Chairman of Agriculture Sibley Charles, is expected to reel in close to $2 million annually through the cultivation of onions, tomatoes and sweet peppers.
Deputy chairman of the council Fabian Jones said this is still in the development phase.
Speaking specially to other recommendations, Jones explained that council would also be lobbying government in its quest to have Barbuda declared a port of entry and a duty-free zone.
Plans are also in the cards to declare a three-mile fishing zone on the island as a marine protected area.
“Persons wishing to fish in that area would have to get a permit and then we can decide the cost for a permit and probably the amount of catch you can take in a day, that way we would also help to grow the economy,” Jones explained in an interview.
The deputy chairman is also hoping some aspects of the proposal can be implemented this year.
“There is no time to waste right now and that is why we have set timelines to tell them that we need to have these meetings one behind the other so that we can have something to take to the council,” Jones added.