Tuesday 24th April, 2018 –Antigua and Barbuda is seeking technical assistance from India in the areas of health and the management of public finance.
The request was made Tuesday by Investment and Trade Minister, Hon. Asot Michael, during a courtesy call with a visiting delegation from India led by that country’s Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, C.R Chaudhary.
Minister Michael noted that many years ago, Antigua and Barbuda requested assistance from India to enhance the nations’ medical services, which led to the arrival of many Indian doctors who worked at the then Holberton Hospital. He noted that in 2001 the Government made a further request for assistance to help the Ministry of Finance deal with the issue of tax avoidance. Under that scheme, several tax specialists were assigned to the Customs Division and the Inland Revenue Department to help the Government update the public accounts and to address issues related to tax collection.
Now, Michael wants Indian expertise to help fully establish the Antigua and Barbuda Free Trade Zone. The Minister said he traveled to India about four years ago during which time he observed that several major American companies had established a presence in India. He wants to tap into the experiences of the Indian people to explore ways for these companies to set up similar enterprises in Antigua and Barbuda.
The Trade and Investment Minister said he would be pleased to mount a trade mission to India to meet directly with business executives there and to find ways to attract them to Antigua and Barbuda. He also explored the possibility of securing scholarships for Antiguan and Barbudan students to pursue higher learning in India.
For his part, Mr. Chaudhary said his visit to St John’s is part of a series of visits through the sub-region as the current Indian Prime Minister; Narendra Modi has embarked on an initiative to establish closer ties with the OECS countries.
He expressed a willingness to assist with the establishment of an educational institution in Antigua, possibly in the area of agriculture or medicine. Mr. Chaudhary also talked about Indian expertise in the area of pharmaceuticals and he expressed a desire to share this with the region. He was accompanied by the Indian High Commission to Caricom, V Mahalingam and his secretary P.C Meena.
Mr. Michael’s team also included a number of officials in the Ministry of Trade and Investments, including acting permanent secretary, Marva Newton-Richards.