#Providenciales, December 6, 2018 – Turks and Caicos – Early Saturday morning, December 1st 2018, many awoke to the news that the Service Charge Bill which was set to come into force that morning had been delayed with what could only be called a very flimsy explanation, barely a solid paragraph to boot. While I was shocked at the blunder, I was not at all surprised. Can we really point to one specific item that this administration has developed on its own for the people of the TCI wholeheartedly and succinctly on its own in nearly two years of Governance? I’ll wait…
In the meantime, I will provide some background information to show just why this is a cop out by this administration as something bigger might be at play behind the scenes. In the spring of 2015, then Leader of the Opposition, Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson brought a motion to the HOA requesting that the Government consider giving working in the Hospitality industry 100% Gratuity. Though missing the mark, and really meaning Service Charge, the debate about 100% Service Charge was thrust back into the public domain and would become an issue that the 2016 election might have been swung on. The Ewing Administration set up a committee to review the issue and get feedback from industry folks and workers. The committee worked at its leisure but things heated up again when in the fall of 2016, PDM Appointed member Hon. Clarence Selver who was an independent candidate at the time brought a Service Charge Amendment Bill to give TCI Workers 100% Service Charge and legalizing receiving tips.
With elections looming and the committee’s work incomplete this Bill would not see the light of day as on the day it was finally scheduled for a first reading elections were called. Fast forward to Spring 2017, when PNP Appointed Member Hon. Royal Robinson brought a similar 100% Service Charge amendment Bill, as the government hadn’t to that point even whispered the words 100% Service Charge to the public. After taking licks in public for several month after not debating the Bill at several sittings of the HOA, the Sharlene Cartwright Robinson Led Administration Killed the Bill that would have given 100% Service Charge to the people. This less than a year of supporting a similar Bill brought by Hon. Selver as mentioned above when they were in Opposition.
This year the PDM Service Charge Bill was finally drafted and released for feedback. There were several meetings with industry folks, surveys to be filled out etc to get recommendations on possible amendments to the draft Bill. One such amendment made was to allow the newly proposed Facility Fee to be charged at a rate of up to 5% instead of the initially proposed 3% in the original draft. Clearly somebody was listening to somebody at that point. The bill was brought to the HOA, debated, sent to the committee of the whole where several amendments was proposed by the PNP members but voted down by the PDM Majority. The Bill passed with bipartisan support and an implementation date of Dec 1st 2018 was set for the bill.
Why did I go through such detail?? To make the point that for 3 years now, this issue has been in the forefront of the people’s minds in the TCI, but yet at literally the 11th hour, there needs to be more public education, clarification, and amendments?? What the hell had these people been doing for the last 3 years? If after 3 years of debating, discussing, and campaigning of an issue, if I can’t bring forth a bill that could at the very least be a good first crack at it out the gate, I would pack up shop!! And the biggest joke is they had to know this was coming long time and could have forewarned the people about the issues as many splurged a little more for the Black Friday Sales in anticipation of the extra funds for Christmas. But nooooo, both the Premier and Deputy Premier dropped this bomb on the country and slithered out of the country the next morning to the UK for the JMC meeting, leaving poor Delroy to hold the bag! How cowardly, ducking the media and the people after chilling the night before at the TCI Culinary Ambassadors’ Chop Off… Shame on you… It would have been better to implement the law on schedule and review it in 6 months than to Grinch-like steal the people’s Christmas.
Stay Blessed TCI, it ain long now.