New council secretary calls for stakeholder dialogue

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Newly-appointed Barbuda Council Secretary, Paul Nedd, in an interview Saturday with OBSERVER media, is calling for all stakeholders to unite to get Barbuda back to what it was prior to the passage of Hurricane Irma in September 2017.
“I am asking that the central authority, the Prime Minister, the Public Works Department, the Central Board of Health, the Solid Waste Department, all the necessary stakeholders come together, including the Antigua Public Utilities Authority; we need to come to the table and begin the process of putting right what was made wrong by Hurricane Irma,” Nedd explained.
He added that it has been a year since the passing of the catastrophic storm but many of the key institutions that are needed to return the island to a state of normalcy are still left in ruins. According to Nedd, there are still many homes in dire need to repair work or to be rebuilt entirely. He highlighted the need for dialogue between the local council on the sister island and the central government. Nedd said that if any meaningful strides are to be made to restore the lives of Barbudans, then both without electricity and running water, need to be fully restored.
 He noted that the primary school is in a temporary facility, likewise the police station. While the post office and electoral office are non functional.
He said parties must bridge the gap that has historically separated them.
When questioned about the financial state of the council, Nedd revealed that the council’s revenue machinery is almost nonexistent. He stated that the hotel industry took a massive blow because of last year’s hurricane and it has negatively affected the taxes the council usually collects from those properties.
He went on to explain that sand mining which was the other main source of revenue for the local government, is now done at the bare minimum and therefore that revenue stream has dried up. According to him, the council is completely dependent on the central government and this is even more of a reason for both parties to come to the negotiation table.
He said that it is within the authority of the council to administer taxes to raise revenue, but he is of the opinion that the current situation on the sister island does not lend itself to this happening. He stated that many individuals are living in tents and are still trying to get their lives back to some form of normalcy.
The secretary explained that, if as a country Antigua and Barbuda is ever going to reach powerhouse status, then the time has come for Barbuda to not only be involved in the discussion but to play a major role in making this a reality. 
Nedd began his tenure as Secretary of the Barbuda Council at the beginning of September. The post was previously held by Amy George who was acting in that position.

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