The Honourable Minister of Tourism, Economic Development, Investment & Energy was in his usual cheerful spirit at yesterday’s historic signing of two accords with the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. In making a few brief remarks, the Minister expressed his gratitude to the representatives on hand, and to the people and Government of the oil-rich country. Minister Michael, was upbeat about the potential for pushing Antigua and Barbuda beyond the boundaries which have traditionally limited real enterprise and investment opportunities for the region’s peoples.
The outpouring of the Minister’s optimism regarding Venezuela’s tremendous benevolence and cooperation served to put into context the road of progress that the country is following. Mr. Michael spoke to the respect and mutual relationship that makes Venezuela a good and “strategic partner” alongside Antigua and Barbuda. The Tourism Minister lauded the two momentous accords, not only on the back of attaining significant assurances last week in Miami, but he welcomed Venezuela’s investment that would see bunkering facilities come on stream to service the promised increases in cruise liners. He sees this aspect of adding tremendous value to the local economy to the point that Antigua and Barbuda can become the real hub in the region in the not too distant future.
In fact, the Hon Asot Michael spoke of “expanding the boundaries” so that Antigua and Barbuda’s impact would be “regional and international” in scope. It was in this fuelling of the occasion that the people of Antigua and Barbuda – “local and small business”- could derive the benefit of ownership from the two significant investments entered into by the good working and friendly relations Venezuela have with Antigua and Barbuda.
Minister Michael alluded to the possibility that the positives were so strong that Prime Minister Gaston Browne could actually explore the chance to “float” the shares accumulating from the substantial and profitable investments “on the Eastern Caribbean Stock Exchange.” This brought smiles and a fair bit of banter from those in the conference room. Michael’s context was to show that Antigua and Barbuda could push the boundaries within the context of the strategic partnership, and for the empowerment of the people.
All in all, Minister Michael saw the great potential in both the eye care initiative and the petro deal as continuing to plant “friendship” which would amount to “social progress” for all of these nations’ peoples. For his bit, he welcomed “long, long, fruitful relations” between the hemispheric countries, and particularly between the people and Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and, the Government and people of Antigua and Barbuda.