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Constitutional Review Committee Meeting In Provo

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The turn-out in Providenciales was not overwhelming last night at the third Constitutional Review Committee meeting, but the exchange was robust and went until late into the night as recommendations for changes were given to the eight member panel. Among the first to show up at the Gus Lightbourne Gym and arguably most vocal, was former Premier Michael Misick who expressed that he believed the process was unfolding in the wrong order.

Misick’s view? First a referendum giving the electorate an opportunity to vote yes or no on the issue of Independence; and instead of a list of changes to the 2011 Turks and Caicos Constitution Order, a report reflective of the general consensus. It appeared to be unanimous that residents would like to see the role of the Chief Financial Officer, a UK appointed post entrenched until 2016 removed from the constitution. The meeting was split on whether education should be free to all school aged children or just free to Turks and Caicos Islands school aged children.

The ex-Premier suggested there be a senate of non-elected members appointed exclusively by the political parties, he said he does not like the at large seats and believes each island, no matter how small should have direct representation. Mike with lots to say including the view that the Attorney General, should be a political appointment made by the Premier, and should go back to also overseeing the office of public prosecutions… that a Premier should serve the country for as long as the electorate wants him or her; said the two year restriction should be removed… applause coming every time the governor’s powers were brought up.

Agreement in large part that the governor has too much power in the current arrangement outlined in the constitution. The governor should have no say in who the premier selects as cabinet ministers, has too many appointees in parliament and should not oversee the permanent secretaries. There was also demand for there to be a system of accountability of the governor to the people of the TCI. Again applause on the function of the Integrity Commission; in the room there seemed to be wide agreement that the body has turned from being a watch dog, to a hound dog as the ex premier put it.

He said, Parliament should regulate its own members. Strong objection to trial without jury, Dominique Rolle, a young attorney called on the panel to question how the change to trial by judge alone strengthens the justice system. There was also talk on who should be able to be Premier of the country and suggestions to see certain parts of the 2011 document eliminated altogether. A strong view from the residents, that there should be a return to the 2006 constitution; rejecting the current document as an insult and ridiculous.

That evoked the explanation that the Constitutional Review Committee has built its presentation with the last constitution as its base… giving the meeting members comparisons in ten parts by exposing the changes. Written submissions are still welcome; and there are still more meetings over the next two weeks in South, North and Middle Caicos.

The committee was also chastised by the leader of the PPP, Dr Edward Smith for being late to start… and was called to revoke the appointment of Hon Donhue Gardiner because he left the meeting for about an hour and a half. Michael Misick said it was unacceptable that the member left, and that Minister Gardiner is out of control and has been out of control for a long time. The Chairman of the Committee, Daniel Malcolm, admitted that he was not aware of Gardiner’s departure.

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Finance

Three Days to NIB Rate Increase for 2023

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

 

#TurksandCaicos, March 29, 2023 – On April 1st, the second round of increases on contributions at the National Insurance Board will kick in for the Turks and Caicos workforce.  Announced last year, the increases were instituted to keep the NIB from running out of money by 2027 as it services a population that is living longer with contributions that had not been increased in 30 years.

As the Government’s new financial year begins, increases at NIB will mean a higher cost for doing business and a higher cost for running the Government.

The private sector is expected to pay contributions at a rate of 11 percent on your taxable income. The hike is up from last year’s 10 per cent; six percent of which is to be paid by the Employer and five percent is to be paid by the Employee.  For wages of $2000, this will mean a $200 improvement in income per month to the NIB.  As for the burn on residents’ pockets, based on a minimum wage of $1200 monthly salary, that’s at least $60 dollars a month and $720 per year.

Public sector rates will move to 10.15 percent up from 9.15 per cent with the worker paying 4.575 per cent and the Government paying 5.575 per cent; that’s $54 a month and $648 a year at minimum wage.

The NIB rate as of April 1, 2023, will jump to 9 percent for self-employed individuals; For self-employed individuals at minimum wage, that is $108 dollars a month or $1296 per year.

As taxable incomes increase so will the contribution.

The increases follow a 2019 Actuarial review, undertaken every three years, which unearthed that the NIB was facing a dismal future, possible collapse. Contribution rates were growing at a rate much slower than NIB expenses, which included beneficiary payouts.  On that trajectory, the NIB’s earnings would be eclipsed by its income by 2027, forcing the worker protection plan to draw down on money saved for economic shocks like Covid-19.

Unsurprisingly, this was deemed untenable, and an immediate increase was recommended.

Despite this scramble to boost earnings, the NIB has simultaneously increased payouts.  Payouts for pensions, funeral grants, maternity grants and more will all attract bigger sums.

These incremental increases on contributions and payouts were all consultant recommendations, informed statements from the Board.

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Bahamas News

Work of NAECOB critical in ensuring high standards in education, says Minister Hanna-Martin

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By KATHRYN CAMPBELLBahamas Information Services
NASSAU, The Bahamas, March 29, 2023 – Over 100 schools in New Providence, public and private, and some 30 plus schools in Freeport have been inspected by The National Accreditation and Equivalency Council (NAECOB) to ensure high quality standards for the delivery of education.
“We will cover every island, every cay in this country to make certain that the facilities that we send our children to are adequate, conducive for learning, safe and sound for education,” said Thelma Grimes, chairperson, NAECOB.
“We are going to head to Cat Island and all the others before June.This is our announced visit. They [schools] have a chance to get things fixed that are not finished and [afterwards] we will have the unannounced.”
The Council informed the media of its progress during a briefing Monday, March 20, 2023 at its headquarters, Tonique Williams-Darling Highway.
Howard Newbold, Inspector and Council Member explained that the council’s seven inspectors are tasked with visiting every site or virtual space operating the following: primary/secondary schools, private/secondary, post-secondary, recognized, training, allied health and business institutions among others.
 Mr. Newbold said inspections include an examination of:
 -Safety and security standards-Human security which begins at the entrance to the property’-Physical security: safety mechanisms including smoke detectors, fire alarms and extinguishers (service date verification, and evacuation plan)-Primary grounds, playground equipment, swing sets and slides-Curriculum-Information management system (student records, staff schedules, registration certificate with NAECOB, business license, photos of the national leaders etc.)
The Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin, Minister of Education and Technical and Vocational Institute thanked NAECOB for their efforts. She described their work as “critical” and a part of an overall national thrust to ensure that the quality of education in the country is at a high standard.“We’re the Ministry of Education and they’re our schools. We are accountable to NAECOB. They ensure that what is happening on the campuses throughout the nation meets the physical standards and the qualitative standards of education. You would have heard classroom size and teacher/student ratio. We may have challenges, and we do at the Ministry of Education but when these issues are brought to our attention we are obliged and compelled to seek resolution to ensure that the standards are met.
“This is a quality assurance measure for the Ministry itself and our schools to ensure that public and private and public schools meet these standards. We value that. Because the objective of the Ministry is to ensure that we meet the standards so that our young people who enter these institutions are afforded the best opportunity possible.
 “Education is a cultural value; a norm. We submit ourselves to the work of NAECOB to ensuring what happens is done at least to make the acceptable standards of the delivery of education in our schools,” she said.
Cassia Minnis, registration officer, said “registration” certifies that a local educational institution/provider has met the criteria to offer an educational service in The Bahamas as outlined in the Education Act. She said it is mandatory that all educational institutions/provider offering/proposing to offer an educational service in the Bahamas must be registered according to the NAECOB Act and the Education Act.
 She said NAECOB is aware of “small” schools operating within residential homes and warned that this is in contravention of the law.
She encouraged the public to view listings of all registered institutions on the website at naecob.org
NAECOB is responsible for registering and accrediting primary schools, secondary schools, post-secondary schools, and any institution that offers training in The Bahamas.
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PHOTO CAPTIONS

BIS Photos/Mark Ford

Header: Seated at the table, from left: – Lorraine Armbrister, Permanent Secretary; Minister Glenys Hanna-Martin; Dominique McCartney Russell, Acting Director; Cassia Minnis, Registration Officer; Thelma Grimes, Council Chairperson; Howard Newbold, Inspector, Council Member; Shena Williams, Council and Inspector; Dorothy Anderson, Inspector; T. Nicola McKay, Deputy Chairperson;  (seated behind) Willard Barr, Council and Inspector.

1st insert: Thelma Grimes, Council Chairperson

2nd insert: Howard Newbold, Inspector and Council Member

3rd insert: The Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin, Minister of Education and Technical and Vocational Training

4th insert: Cassia Minnis, Registration Officer

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Bahamas News

Bahamas Golden Jubilee Events Announced, Celebrations Across 33 Islands & Cays

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#TheBahamas, March 27, 2023 – As the 50th anniversary of our nation’s independence approaches, Bahamians everywhere are teeming with excitement and expectancy around the year-long celebrations set by The National Independence Secretariat.

Yesterday, the Prime Minister joined H.E Leslia Miller Brice, Chair of The National Independence Secretariat to unveil the Calendar of Events for the 50th Independence celebrations.

The calendar comprises a host of events, initiatives and recommendations for celebrations throughout all 33 islands of The Bahamas.

At this jubilant occasion the PM stated, “Celebrating independence is about acknowledging the greatness around us, the greatness within us, and the greatness ahead of us.

We are Bahamians. That identity is special.”

View the newly released calendar of events here:

https://celebrate-bahamas.com/calendar-of-events/…

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