The Barbuda Council and central government in Antigua have committed to improve the relationship between the islands as they work toward the common goal of the development of the unitary state of Antigua and Barbuda.
The agreement to thaw relations resulted from the first meeting between the new minister of Barbuda Affairs, E. P. Chet Greene, and the Barbuda Council in Codrington on Tuesday.
Greene told the councillors that it was his hope that his visit would set the stage for a more harmonious relationship between the council and the central government.
“We have come a long way as a nation, but we have more to accomplish, much more to do, as together, I believe that we can achieve the goals and the dreams of our people,” Greene said.
He added that as Barbuda’s economic space develops, it is his hope that as minister responsible for Barbuda he will be able to seriously engage the council to assure the economic build out of Barbuda for the benefit of the island’s people.
“We may not always agree on the vehicle, but am sure that we can agree on the destination. It’s about our country and the build out of one state; Antigua and Barbuda,” Greene declared.
The council members present, who included chairman, Mackenzie Frank, and the island constituency’s parliamentary representative, Trevor Walker, agreed that the development of Barbuda will necessitate a more cordial relationship between the council and central government.
Councilor Devon Warner called for an end to the hostility that has existed between Barbuda’s administrators and the Antigua-based central government and called for the council to give full cooperation to the government for the benefit of Barbuda and its people.
At the start of Tuesday’s meeting, the council proposed a six-point agenda for discussion.
The areas of priority included arrears in salaries and wages, the timely transfer of grant funding, infrastructural development and maintenance of roads and the repairs of the government-owned buildings damaged by Hurricane Irma, telecommunications, fisheries export and the resumption of the vocational training programme.
Minister Greene demonstrated the government’s willingness to negotiate and compromise on issues presented by the Barbuda Council with a view to a mutually satisfactory resolution.
The next meeting between the government and Barbuda Council will take place in St. John’s, however, a date had not yet been set.