Minister of Tourism, Economic Development, Investment and Energy the Hon. Asot A. Michael today (Fri) held bilateral talks with His Excellency the High Commissioner of India Mr. V. Mahalingam.
Discussions centered on areas of cooperation relating to Medical Tourism, Health and Wellness, Energy and Information Technology.
His Excellency Mahalingam made a pledge of a gift to the Government and People of Antigua and Barbuda in the form of the installation of solar panels to the amount of four hundred thousand United States dollars ($400,000.00 US).
Minister Michael who also holds the portfolio of Energy accepted the gift on the Government’s behalf stating that his department will immediately begin the process of identifying the Government buildings, schools, clinics etc which will be outfitted.
In this regard, His Excellency the High Commissioner encouraged Minister Michael to present a case for Antigua and Barbuda’s membership in the International Solar Alliance. The Alliance started amongst France and India and seeks to provide information and technical assistance to the countries between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn in the area of Renewable Energy. According to the Energy Minister, once all information is presented and the feasibility of joining such an organization proves to beneficial to the nation in its thrust to reduce its Carbon footprint, Antigua and Barbuda will become an official member.
Another area of discussion focused on the Government’s thrust through the Ministry of Tourism to develop the niche market of Medical tourism and His Excellency brought good news to the twin island state in this respect.
“We have two investors with serious intentions of investing in the development of an Ayurvedic Resort in Antigua,” stated H.E. Mr. Mahalingam. He continued that “Ayurveda which means science of life is an ancient medical science which was developed in India thousands of years ago. The ancient Indian Vedic literature by sages has clearly laid out instructions to maintain health as well as fighting illness through therapies, massages, herbal medicines, diet control and exercise.”
According to His Excellency India is the location for one of the World’s first Ayurveda Resorts and it has proven to be one of the best Tourism spots in that country.
The Hon. Tourism Minister noted that such a development in Antigua and Barbuda would add tremendous value to the Tourism product and gave clear guidelines as to the steps that the investors should take to bring this project to fruition.
Further, Antigua and Barbuda stands to benefit significantly in the area of medicine from relations with India. His Excellency Mr. Mahalingam offered his country’s assistance to erect a medical college in Antigua and Barbuda and already the ideal location is being sought. Interest also surrounds the development of a specializing hospital which would attract the most qualified doctors from around the world who would visit the twin island state to specialize in heart and kidney transplant procedures.
In the area of Information Technology (IT), the High Commissioner has divulged that further collaboration between both countries could result in the construction of an IT College which would further support the operations of the Antigua and Barbuda International Institute of Technology (ABITT), as well as the development of Antigua based IT Call centers which would specialize in medical transcription or financial assistance and accounting for multinational companies located in the United States.
Minister of Tourism, Economic Development, Investment and Energy the Hon. Asot Michael, while enthusiastic about developments coming out of today’s talks says that further dialogue and consultation will be necessary with his colleague Ministers and the Cabinet of Antigua and Barbuda to bring these projects to fruition.
He is hopeful that once successful such developments will contribute significantly to the economic development of Antigua and Barbuda through the provision of employment and educational opportunities for its nationals.
Fully financed short courses will be made available to Antiguans and Barbudans in the areas of Renewable Energy and Finance, with an intent already signaled for provisions to be made in the areas of tourism, business, banking and finance.