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Gaming and Crime Bill Pass in the House

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The Bahamas, 19th Sept 2014 (Bahamas Information Services) – It is official. Webshop gaming in The Bahamas is no longer an underground industry but a fully regulated $600 million component of both the domestic tourism and financial services sector product offerings. Late Monday evening, 25 Parliamentarians voted yes, seven voted no and five were absent at the third and final reading, committal and vote on the historic Gaming Bill and attendant regulations that promised to transform the gaming industry, both land based and online.

Defending the government’s decision to legalize and regulate this industry in the best interest of The Bahamas and responding to his critics, Prime Minister Christie said that it was important not to “attribute to one side sin, corrupt practices, when they are motivated to do….what all of the agencies of the world would reasonably expect them to do in the circumstances.” The Prime Minister was referring to concerns raised by the Governor of the Central Bank and the Compliance Commission about the unregulated gaming industry. These concerns were raised after the January 28, 2012 gaming referendum.

The Prime Minister was emphatic in his position that “no government faced with the information this government was faced with…could arrogate unto itself the right to say, ‘let’s ignore that.’ This now… becomes a major matter for the Minister of Finance and Prime Minister of The Bahamas and that’s me.” The Prime Minister was referring to an external review and national risk assessment of The Bahamas’ economy by an anti-money laundering taskforce from the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) scheduled for 2015. The numbers industry must be a part of this risk assessment said the Prime Minister and the government will liaise with all financial industries in the country to determine areas of vulnerability.

“Fostering growth, transparency and social responsibility comes as The Bahamas faces in 2015 a more thorough external review by CFATF than it has ever faced before. A review as to risk and areas of vulnerability in our economy” said the Prime Minister, referring to an October 2013 article published by one of the dailies about this extensive and thorough national audit of the country’s economy by the CATF in 2015. Legalizing and regulating the numbers industry was the correct and reasoned policy decision for any responsible government, given the circumstances facing The Bahamas argued Prime Minister Christie.

The Prime Minister went further in hammering home the principal of probity which is the fundamental cornerstone of any credible gaming dispensation:

“The most fundamental cornerstone of any credible gaming dispensation anywhere in the world can be distilled into a single word. That word is “probity”. Probity focuses on establishing that any given person who seeks to be involved in the gaming industry, whether as a regulator or as a licence holder, is fit and proper to do so, and moreover remains fit and proper on an ongoing basis. The currency of probity is therefore information concerning the relevant individual, ranging from information regarding the personal history of that person, or business history, where that person is a corporate entity, to information relating to the financial history, capacity and dealings of that person, as well as criminal history and associations with other persons.” The Prime Minister was confident that a fully regulated Bahamian gaming industry would pass the universally acceptable credibility litmus test of “probity.”

Turning his attention to the taxes, fees, penalties and social and community contributions with respect to gaming houses, the Prime Minister had this to say:

1. “As provided in section 85 subsection (16) of the Gaming Bill, after making a full and frank disclosure of all turnover and gross profit generated by the conduct of their businesses as defined in the Business Licence Act, for a period of six years for businesses which were in operation for six years or more, or from the date of start up for those operations who were in business for a lesser period than six years, make payment in full of:

(i) All fees payable under the Business Licence Act for the review period, to the extent that any turnover or gross profits generated by the conduct of such business had not been disclosed.

(ii) All gaming taxes which would have been payable by that business had such business been licenced under the Gaming Act, calculated at the prescribed rate commencing on 1st July, 2014.

(iii) A penalty in the amount of

(a) $350,000 in respect of a business with a gross turnover of less than five million dollars; and

(b) $750,000 in respect of a business with a gross turnover of less than give million dollars.

2. Payment of the licence fees set out in Regulations 49-55 of The Gaming House Operation Regulations, 2014

3. As prescribed in Regulation 57 of the Gaming House Operator Regulations 2014, payment of gaming taxes whichever should be the greater of —

(a) 11% of taxable revenue

(b) 25% of earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.

4. Regulation 57 of the Gaming House Operator Regulations 2014 also provides that the tax should be subject to review—

(a) During the transitional period following the receipt of the RFP and audited financial statements;

(b) At such time as the Minister may otherwise direct.

5. In accordance with Regulation 4 of the Gaming House Operator Regulations, 2014 the RFP may require gaming house operators to make monetary contributions of a minimum of 1% for corporate social investments initiatives and 1%for community improvement.”

Amended Crime Bills passed in the House
The compendium of crime bills intended to improve the administration of justice was passed in the House on Wednesday, 17th September 2014. They were:
· Bail Amendment Act
· Coroners Amendment Act
· Evidence Amendment Act
· Abolition of the Mandatory Minimum Sentence

Under the amended Bail Act, the burden is now on the bail applicant to prove why the court should grant bail and the court must now take into account the safety of the victim in its consideration to grant bail.

Under the amended Coroners Act, the Coroner is empowered to make homicide findings. The amended Evidence Act basically allows a witness to provide testimony via live television link. The conditions are when a witness is on another island; when being present in court creates fear and distress on the witness and when the court of trial considers it appropriate on its own motion.

The minimum mandatory sentences were abolished for possession of drugs, firearms and ammunition and judges are given judicial discretion in each case. Recently, Justice Jon Isaacs ruled that a 4-year mandatory minimum sentence for drug possession with the intent to supply was unconstitutional.

In passing
The Referendum date delayed to 2015; the CBTUC called off strike and returned to work this past Monday amid continuing negations with the government and the General Education Diploma program (GED) was launched by the government this week through a partnership between Atlantic College and the Urban Renewal Commission.

The Antiquities, Monuments and Museums Corporation (AMMC) and the Bahamas Mortgage Corporation (BMC) both inked new labour agreements with the Bahamas Public Service Union; new immigration rules announced in the House and the once stolen and returned Bahamian Iguanas are released to the wild.

The Clifton Heritage Authority will host the media this evening at the Hilton; Bimini gets a new ferry passenger port and more job opportunities; Prime Minister Christie tours the Grand Bahama Shipyard today and the HMBS Leon Livingstone Smith, the third of nine new patrol vessels for the RBDF to be commissioned at 6:30 pm this evening at the Kelly Dock.


Elcott Coleby
Deputy Director
Bahamas Information Services
326-5833
477-7006

Magnetic Media is a Telly Award winning multi-media company specializing in creating compelling and socially uplifting TV and Radio broadcast programming as a means for advertising and public relations exposure for its clients.

Health

COVID deaths too high, Therapeutics Options too low; TCIG is not following Mother England

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By Deandrea Hamilton

Editor

 

#TurksandCaicos, January 20, 2022 – Five medical treatments for Covid-19 patients are in use in the United Kingdom according to National Health Service, (NHS) yet Turks and Caicos has employed only one Covid-19 therapeutic and with the surge in new deaths due to the virus, it is a wonder if more can be done in this country to save lives.

Dexamethasone was approved by the NHS in June 2020, less than a month later, Turks and Caicos Hospitals began use of the therapeutic said to offer ground-breaking coronavirus treatment.

“Dexamethasone, an anti-inflammatory drug, has been immediately approved to treat all UK hospitalised COVID-19 patients requiring oxygen, including those on ventilators, from today.

The drug has been proven to reduce the risk of death significantly in COVID-19 patients on ventilation by as much as 35% and patients on oxygen by 20%, reducing the total 28-day mortality rate by 17%,” informed a media statement from the NHS on June 16, 2020.

Ever so quietly, and despite repeated media questions to the Ministry of Health about therapeutics, Dexamethasone was added to the Covid-19 response arsenal without a word.

The TCI Hospitals informed of its use late 2021, due to Magnetic Media questions on the issue.

However, that is where the list of therapeutics ends.  But not so for the UK, from whom Turks and Caicos is taking medical cues.

Four other therapies are employed in the United Kingdom in an effort to save lives; they are: Tocilizumab and sarilumab (for REHAB); Tocilizumab (for RECOVERY); Inhaled budesonide (for PRINCIPLE care) and Ronapreve (for RECOVERY).

No surprise the effort is varied and fervent as the UK sadly reports one of the highest death tolls to COVID in the world at 153,000 people lost to the virus.

By January 2021, the UK, which was also the first country to approve emergency use of the Covid-19 vaccines, added a new drug: Tocilizumab and sarilumab.

Tocilizumab and sarilumab is administered to the sickest Covid-19 patients, said the NHS.

“This is a significant finding which could have immediate implications for the sickest patients with COVID-19,” said Professor Anthony Gordon, Chair in Anaesthesia and Critical Care at Imperial College London and a Consultant in Intensive Care Medicine at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.

“We found that among critically ill adult patients – those receiving breathing support in intensive care – treatment with these drugs can improve their chances of survival and recovery,” explained Professor Gordon. “At a time when hospitalisations and deaths from COVID-19 are soaring in the UK, it’s crucial we continue to identify effective treatments which can help to turn the tide against this disease.”

A month later, a recovery version of Tocilizumab came on stream.

The NHS, which ran studies on all of the drugs before introducing them for medical care to its residents reported that:  “Treatment with tocilizumab significantly reduced deaths: 596 (29%) of the patients in the tocilizumab group died within 28 days compared with 694 (33%) patients in the usual care group (rate ratio 0·86; [95% confidence interval [CI] 0·77 to 0·96]; p=0·007), an absolute difference of 4%. This means that for every 25 patients treated with tocilizumab, one additional life would be saved.”

By April 2021, the UK was offering a therapeutic which was administered to people presenting with COVID but not yet hospitalised for the virus.

Inhaled budesonide, was given before Covid-19 turned severe.

“This asthma drug shortens recovery time said the National Health Service.  The statement published on April 12, 2021 said, “Inhaled budesonide, a common corticosteroid, is the first widely available, inexpensive drug found to shorten recovery times in COVID-19 patients aged over 50 who are treated at home and in other community settings, reports the PRINCIPLE trial in 1,779 participants. The drug is now available to treat COVID-19 on a case-by-case basis in UK primary care.”

The final approved “effective treatment” listed on the UK Government’s website is Ronapreve, sanctioned as effective in September 2021.

It was geared to health care workers without coronavirus antibodies and those 12 to 49, who are considered immunocompromised.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “We have secured a brand new treatment for our most vulnerable patients in hospitals across the UK and I am thrilled it will be saving lives from as early as next week.

The UK is leading the world in identifying and rolling out life-saving medicines, particularly for COVID-19, and we will continue our vital work to find the best treatments available to save lives and protect the NHS.

Ronapreve is the first neutralising antibody medicine specifically designed to treat COVID-19 to be authorised by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for use in the UK.”

Given the Turks and Caicos, as a UK Overseas Territory has been extraordinarily supported from the onset of the pandemic by the United Kingdom, it is unclear why only one of five options, approved by Mother England has been activated locally.

While all messages from the NHS reveal a zeal to have as many possible options for the people of the UK in the fight against COVID-19.  Turks and Caicos seems stuck and lacking the motivation  it needs to offer more life-saving treatments to the people – vaccinated or unvaccinated – of the territory.

Perhaps the knowledge of the cold corpses of six beloved people from January 2022 deaths due to COVID, including a special needs young woman, may get the government spending public money on the other drugs and treatments, which give Covid-19 patients an extra fighting chance at life.

 

 

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CWCF Flow TCI & CWCF completes upgrades

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#TurksandCaicos, January 20, 2022 – The Cable & Wireless Charitable Foundation (CWCF), in collaboration with Flow TCI, announced the completion of the first phase of its project to provide increased connectivity and broadband access to schools in the region, including TCI. The foundation recently announced the completion of three schools in the TCI during the Minister of Education’s national address at the Office of the Premier on January 13th.

Joanne Missick, Country Manager, Flow Turks & Caicos, expressed her excitement on the progress made by the CWCF, and released the following statement following the announcement.  “ We are pleased to be a valued partner of the Ministry of Education, and a dedicated corporate citizen of the Turks and Caicos, and this announcement serves to reaffirm our commitment to the education sector and to parents and students across the Turks and Caicos Islands. As students and teachers prepare to return to the classroom, physically and virtually, for the new school year, they will benefit from these latest technology upgrades. During the next phase of the project, in 2022, we look forward to connecting even more schools in the TCI.”

During the national address, Flow also highlighted three of its major undertakings executed in the last three years despite the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic. This included upgrading schools in the TCI from average speed of 6Mbps of broadband speed to 50Mbps, as part of its existing program to deliver increase digital access and connectivity to public schools at no further cost to the Ministry. Flow also doubled speeds for all home internet customers in the TCI and announced $4m in network upgrades to help to improve connectivity in the sister islands.

ICT Education Officer in the Ministry of Education, Mr. Eugene Grant said: “Due to the most recent upgrades from Flow and the Cable and Wireless Charitable Foundation, we were able to enhance the connectivity at three of our schools. This is just in time. January came and the Minister announced that schools will have to resume virtually because of the spike in cases across the country and thanks to the contribution from Flow we were able to extend that connectivity to all our classrooms at the Ianthe Pratt Primary, Charles Hubert James, and Raymond Gardiner. Right now, all of our teachers at these schools can sit and have full contact virtually with their students.”

In attendance at the press conference was Flow Senior Leadership representative, Minister of Education, Labour, Employment and Customer Services, Hon. Rachel Taylor, Director in the Ministry of Education, Mr. Edgar Howell, Deputy Director in the Ministry of Education, Mr. Mark Garland, Education Officers, Members of the Executive Government (Cabinet) and officials from the Ministry of Health.

To find out more about the Cable & Wireless Charitable Foundation, visit cwc.com, or follow C&W Communications on Twitter.

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KB Home Center fined $6,000 for Hiring Haitians illegally

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By Deandrea Hamilton

Editor

 

#TurksandCaicos, January 19, 2022 – “New sheriff in town”, Minister of Immigration Arlington Musgrove in a statement Tuesday doubled down on his public pledge to end illegal migration, and a popular retail store has been convicted with hiring illegal migrants; they’ve paid a fine of $6,000 for the breach.

KB Home Center locations off Leeward Highway and Five Cays were found to have three Haitians working without permission; all workers were detained and repatriated back to Haiti, said the statement.

Tito Forbes heads the Immigration Task Force and said the operation was informed by the Immigration Intelligence Unit.  It led to a detailed investigation, he said, the result of which is conviction of “a business here in Providenciales for employing illegal workers.  Businesses that employ illegal workers are a huge part of our challenge.  Migrants risk their lives trying to get to TCI because they think they can find work and live here illegally”.

Ananda Ltd Trading or KB Home Center was charged and plead guilty to three counts of employing a prohibited person.  The company was sentenced at court to a fine of $2,000 – or 30 days imprisonment – on each count.

Minister Musgrove said, the TCI is working hard to combat illegal migration, and businesses offering employment to illegal migrants are only harming the efforts of our country in tackling this issue.

The public is reminded that it is an offence to harbour or assist illegal persons and that persons found guilty engaging in such activities are liable to a fine of US$20,000 or a term of imprisonment of four years, or both in accordance with the Immigration Ordinance 2018 Revised or any law.

 

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