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Throne Speech On The Occasion Of The Opening Of The Third Session Of The 10th Legislature

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Providenciales, 05 Mar 2015

MR. SPEAKER, HONOURABLE MINISTERS, HONOURABLE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION, MEMBERS OF THIS HONORABLE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY, HONOURABLE, GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN. GOOD MORNING.

Mr. Speaker, I wish to begin by welcoming you all present to this First Sitting of the First Meeting of the Third Session of the Tenth Legislature of the House of the Assembly of the Turks and Caicos Islands.

I stand with a sense of pride and humility, noting the many accomplishments of our Government and our people over the short two years since coming into office and thanking God for the blessings he has bestowed on these Islands.

Mr. Speaker, the years leading up to this point in the governance of these islands was quite eventful for the Government and the people of these islands. During this period we set out an agenda for economic recovery and growth and laid a solid foundation for the future prosperity of all of the Turks and Caicos Islands and all who reside on our shores. We remain committed to ensuring that Turks and Caicos Islanders are empowered at every stage of their development and can enjoy a good quality of life in their senior years.

Turks and Caicos Islanders throughout their long history have proven to be innovative, pragmatic, resilient and smart, surmounting all obstacles and challenges. These characteristics have been revealed most particularly in times of economic challenge and change.

The Turks and Caicos Islands National Song, composed by Rev. Conrad Howell quotes “We stand with courage brave, To maintain this land of ours With islands scattered here and there With trust in God we stand.” Speaks to these very traits; reflecting Islanders innate, time-tested ability to adapt to the ups and downs of an often turbulent world. And the record shows that the people of the Turks and Caicos know not only how to survive, but how to, through sacrifice, prosper and thrive.

Mr. Speaker, creating jobs and economic growth is and will remain our Government’s top priority. Whilst, Mr. Speaker more work needs to be done… I can proudly say that this Government has delivered on many promises to the people of these islands during our short time in office, while at the same time laying a basis for a secured future for our children and our children’s children. I wish to assure the people of these islands that our successes are not accidental, but rather the results of deliberate policy decisions, though some of them may have been unpopular and difficult, they were taken in the interest of our people The benefits of which are now being manifested and will continue into the future.

Mr. Speaker, sectors cannot expand, the economy cannot grow, and the future cannot be secured unless the policies we implement and the vision we pursue, place the people as the drivers of progress. Mr. Speaker, progress today will depend not just on Governments’ actions to fulfill its mandate for change, but relies squarely on people’s understanding that “we are all in this boat together” and that decision taken to keep the boat afloat are decisions taken to keep everyone afloat.

Mr. Speaker, we often face the challenge to exercise patience and understanding, while efforts to solve longstanding problems are undertaken. As members of society we must all accept that the scale and complexity of the challenges of nation building are by no means simple and that solutions may not seem to surface as rapidly as we might like. Where important decisions are required, a considerable amount of focus, time and effort is often required to satisfactorily and appropriately address the issue at hand But Mr. Speaker in order for this to happen we all (including the opposition members) must play our part, working together to fix these Islands and bring us to that place of sustainable prosperity.

Mr. Speaker, we have seen tremendous growth in the economy, mainly driven by tourism and related businesses. This has been the result of unprescedented increase in the tourist arrivals to our shores, soaring from just over one million in 2013 to 1.4 million in 2014. This 24 percent increase in arrivals was experienced in both overnight stays as well as cruise passengers.
Mr. Speaker, some may say that this accomplishment is due only to inclement weather to the North, but we wish to state categorically that it is mainly due to my government’s policies as it relates to the marketing and promotion of Turks and Caicos. Mr. Speaker, we will continue to not only promote Turks and Caicos as a destination but to have specific focus on the development, marketing and promotion of tourism in the family islands, and in so doing diversify and decentralize the tourism economies of our islands. Mr. Speaker, these initiatives will be implemented under the framework of a new tourism strategic plan and taxation incentives that will facilitate the development of private sector tourist attractions, airlift and tourism accommodations in the family islands. Mr. Speaker, the mainstay of the economy of Grand Turk is Cruise based tourism, which my government welcomes and will continue to support through the development of cultural villages both centrally and in the south of Grand Turk and the introduction of fish fry as a major tourism product.

Mr. Speaker, the maintenance of a clean environment and the preservation and promotion of culture and heritage is critical to the sustainable economic growth and development of our small nation. Mr. Speaker, to this end we are committed to addressing the environmental cleanliness challenge due to lack of resources and ineffective laws or non-enforcement thereof. Mr. Speaker, the increase in funding and strengthening of local government in district administration will give those communities the ability to take care of their own affairs and manage their works and maintenance programs. We will likewise increase funding in the larger islands of Providenciales and Grand Turk to adequately address these environmental challenges.

Mr. Speaker, our greatest culture and heritage asset is our people who have toiled and made these islands what they are today. Our Government is committed to the promotion of our culture and heritage and as such has dedicated an entire month and a national holiday for its celebration. Mr. Speaker we will continue to recognize and appreciate our people for their contribution to these islands with the bestowal of various honors and awards during our National Heritage Day celebrations.

Mr Speaker, the road to economic recovery in these islands has been challenging, but due to our strategic policies and sound fiscal management we can now boast of being amongst some of the best performing economies in the region. However, there is still much work to do as we strive to convert economic growth into sustainable economic development and empowerment of our people through job creation and small and medium business development.

Mr. Speaker, the creation of jobs through public and private sector infrastructure development projects, creation of an Invest Turks and Caicos Agency with an SME programme facilitating the development of local businesses, the continued reduction in the taxation burden and the increase in minimum wage are all strategic policies, to which we are committed, that will ensure economic growth and development and the empowerment of Turks and Caicos Islanders. Mr. Speaker, my Government will in addition implement, develop and publish a Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the Turks and Caicos Islands and implement consumer protection legislation so as to increase and sustain the disposable income and wealth of all.
Mr. Speaker, it is only through the strong economic recovery of these islands and the resultant increases in government revenue, credited to this governments’ policies over the last two years, that we are now able to move faster on our manifesto promises, contrary to the rhetoric and beliefs of those who say it is because election is near, or contrary to those claiming credit by saying they were asking for it.
Mr. Speaker, we were given an onerous task to pay off a $170 million dollar loan in five years and come February 2016, we are on target in accomplishing that feat with the removal of the UK loan guarantee. Mr. Speaker is quite possible that our BBB+ stable rating, when reviewed this year June may most likely be upgraded and can consequently allow us to receive even more favorable borrowing offers on the bond and loan market as we refinance the remainder of our debt in February 2016. Mr. Speaker, such accomplishment would allow us to increase funding in the many areas of need, such as roads, schools, and other infrastructures and the funding of new programs in the areas of education, health, social development, labour and security, the welfare of civil servants and civil service productivity. Mr. Speaker, this is a great and envious position for the Turks and Caicos Islands to be in in short a short period following the recession and the coming into office of my government.

Mr. Speaker, we came to office with a mandate to improve the welfare, working conditions and professional development of civil servants and by extension the productivity of the civil service. Mr. Speaker, my Government as promised, reinstated the 10 percent reduction in salaries in 2013, and now due to the availability of funding will spend an additional 9 million dollars this year in the increase in civil servants salaries due to the regrading initiative, which focused especially on teachers, front line and emergency services employees. Mr. Speaker, we will continue to deliver on our mandate by making funding available for skills and professional training and certification of civil servants and prepare them for continued upward mobility and advancement within the civil service. Mr. Speaker we will make adjustments to the benefits of employment such as housing allowance, reintroduce salary increments and implement terminal benefits to replace the lost gratuity benefits. Mr. Speaker, my Government is knowledgeable of the poor state government building and office infrastructure and is committed to improving the work environment by acquiring new rental spaces and establish centralized government office complexes on Providenciales, Grand Turk, North Caicos and South Caicos

Mr. Speaker, our Government is committed to ensuring that all TCI residents have access to health care and services of the highest quality based on available resources and in keeping with the Primary Health Care approach of equity, accessibility, affordability, efficiency, coverage and impact of services provided.”

My Government throughout this year will embark on five (5) strategic goals over the next year:

1. Strengthen governance and stewardship role of the Ministry of Health and Human Services in the health system
2. Define and further develop the model of care in TCI
3. Institute a health financing structure geared towards a more sustainable and affordable system
4. Develop and retain a robust and competent health system workforce through efficient planning and management
5. Reinforce and strengthen Public and Environmental Health in an effort to prevent disease, prolong life, and promote health at the population level

Furthermore, my Government will embark on a National Health Strategic Plan (NHSP) in the coming year to provide guidance, vision, values, priorities and strategic direction to the health care renewal process. Shifting political and governing practices has created a renewed need for an interim strategy that can bridge a dynamic and shifting health system. The NHSP will ensure that all national partners in health work together effectively toward achieving combined strategic goals and objectives. The NHSP will also serve as a comprehensive document designed to provide direction and guidance to stakeholders and the public to improve the health status of the population of the TCI.
Mr. Speaker, my Government will be relentless in our pursuit to ensure that the vulnerable throughout the islands are protected and have equitable and affordable access to health care at all levels of care. Mr. Speaker, as Minister of Health, it is my Governments mandate to ensure that clinics on all islands are opened and have the necessary tools and equipment to cater to the needs of our Islanders. In the next few weeks, we will see an official opening of Middle Caicos clinic followed by the Salt Cay clinic as we plan for the development of a new clinic on North Caicos and expansion of the clinic on Providenciales.

Mr. Speaker, the long awaited ambulances for Provo, Grand Turk and the family islands have been procured and will arrive on island shortly, and these combined with the new EMT training programme will greatly enhance the delivery of emergency medical services throughout the islands. The wellbeing of our people must be safeguarded Mr. Speaker, for the health of a nation is the wealth of a nation. Mr. Speaker, in keeping with this mantra you will see several bills coming to this House of Assembly House this year including but not limited to: Health Regulatory Agency, Food Safety Bill, Tobacco Bill, Mental Health Bill, Pharmaceutical Bill, Health Information Protection Bill and National Health Insurance Amendment Bill just to cite a few.
Mr. Speaker, we have been making much progress in the area of financial and clinical services accountability at the hospitals in accordance with the terms of the contract to ensure value for money and patient satisfaction. Mr. Speaker to this end we will be strengthening the capacity of the Ministry of Health to proactively manage the hospital contract and bring better value for money.

Mr. Speaker, being presented to this House today are a number of family law bills that will help to ensure the safety and protection of our vulnerable women and children. Mr. Speaker our commitment will be to the establishment of a place of safety for these individuals and that of a juvenile facility that will facilitate the rehabilitation of our troubled young people back into society as productive citizens. Mr. Speaker my government will continue to provide increasing levels of social support and funding for those persons who are vulnerable and the elderly in our community, in the form of non-contributory old age pension, improved facilities at the wellness center, and bringing of greater level of heath care to the people, in the communities in which they live. Mr. Speaker, as a community, we must continually reassess how to best care for the people who have given so much to our small nation. Sometimes small measures bring the greatest joy. We owe them an enormous amount of gratitude for all they have achieved throughout life and for all they continue to accomplish; we owe our senior population our thanks and heartfelt salute. We can best demonstrate our gratitude and esteem by ensuring that our communities are good places in which to mature and grow older.

Mr. Speaker, education is indeed the key to empowerment. It has been and continues to be the mission of this government to provide the resources necessary to educate our people at all levels, and to ensure that their education is relevant to the developmental needs of the country. Mr. Speaker, my government will continue to make adequate classroom space available at all levels and to this end, having completed the rebuilding of the Ona Glinton Primary School, we have begun the development of the new Long Bay High School and will continue to focus our school infrastructure development in the building of new primary school and an Early Childhood Center and Technical Institute at the Community College. Mr. Speaker our commitment to education is not only in the area of infrastructure but also in ensuring that we have adequate cadre of trained professional teachers. To this end we have increased resources directed at training teachers and also significantly improving the remuneration of teachers. Mr. Speaker the introduction of CVQs and other technical certification programs at both the secondary and tertiary levels will guarantee a work force that will meet the demands of a rapidly developing Turks and Caicos.
Mr. Speaker, increasing funding for scholarships locally and overseas combined with collaborative agreements with regional, UK and Canadian Universities will make available more opportunities for Turks and Caicos Islanders to obtain a first degree.
Mr. Speaker, my Government is committed to the holistic development of our Youth, and has delivered on our promise to reinstate the Cadet’s Corps and the Youth Parliament programs. We will increase the funding to the Youth Department to facilitate the expansion of existing and the implementation of new youth programs. Mr. Speaker, my government is committed to the redevelopment of existing recreation parks such as the NJS Francis Park, South Back Salina Park and the development of new recreational parks and sporting facilities throughout the islands. Mr. Speaker these initiatives will not only have tremendous impact on youth development but also on the health and wellbeing of all residents within these communities.

Mr. Speaker, the security and safety of our communities, streets and borders are essential to the sustainable development of our nation. Mr. Speaker, we are committed to working with and providing increased funding and resources to the many front line agencies such as the various Police branches, Immigration and Customs to protect our land and citizens there in. Mr. Speaker, we are committed to enforcing stricter control of illegal immigration that can be detrimental to the health, safety and economic wellbeing of the people of these islands. Mr. Speaker, to this end we are committed to addressing illegal immigration activities and irregularities in residency with the introduction of new enforcement programs and new legislation that speaks to residency and Turks and Caicos Islander status.

Mr. Speaker the economic growth, development and empowerment of the people of these islands, is contingent upon our ability to implement sound policies in education, training and development programs, the creation of jobs and small and medium size local businesses, the marketing and promotion of these islands in particular our family islands, the attraction of foreign direct investments, the development and maintenance of our roads and building infrastructure, the preservation and protection of our environment, the protection of our boarders and control of illegal migration, the protection of the health and safety of residents and the strengthening of the welfare and wellbeing and professional development and upward mobility of our valued civil servants.

Mr. Speaker, our achievements to date as a government is due to the hard work and dedication of civil servants, and to them my government say thank you. My Government encourages you to continue to capitalize on opportunities for your professional development as we continue to improve your standard of living and job security at the highest levels within an efficient and effective civil service.

Mr. Speaker, may God continue to bless these beautiful by nature Turks and Caicos Islands.

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Why Jonquel & WNBA Ladies get LESS PAY than Klay & NBA Guys; its forcing ladies into risks abroad

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#USA, June 25, 2022 – Being a player in the NBA is probably one of the most lucrative jobs that one can imagine.  Though better players get better salaries those salaries range between 900 thousand dollars for the lowest-paid players to up to 45 million for the highest-paid players but it is the NBA that ultimately decides how high salaries can go.

The total amount of money any team can spend on their players’ combined salaries is set by the NBA.  The teams then decide what to pay their lowest and highest-ranked players.  For the 22-23 season the cap is $122 million.

For example in the 2021-2022 Champions the Golden State Warrior’s lowest salary will go to Shaun Livingston, a guaranteed $1,333,332.  Their highest salary will go to Stephen Curry, a guaranteed $45,780,966.  This is in addition to sponsorship deals that can rake in millions of dollars for in-demand players.

In the WNBA 2021-2022 season, Brittney Griner earned a base maximum salary (without sponsorships) of $221,450.  That is the highest salary in the WNBA.  One of the best players in the league, Griner is paid four times lower than an NBA rookie.

This is true for women across the board, including the Bahamas’ Jonquel Jones.  Jones is one of the highest-paid players in the WNBA and is regarded as one of the most prolific.  Her salary is 208,000 per year.

Recently Griner was arrested in Russia for a small quantity of marijuana; she was there because she outsourced herself to the Russian team UMMC Ekaterinburg to have a chance at earning more money.

Grand Bahama’s Jonquel plays for the same team and says she can’t turn her back on the international leagues because the salary is just not comparable.  Two months ago she expressed the stress of traveling through Russia on Twitter.

“Just landed in Turkey and all I want to do is cry.  That situation was way more stressful than I realized.  Thank you God for always watching over and protecting me.”

Despite playing in China and Korea she said she never felt unsafe until the war describing it as “unprecedented.”

Despite the stress and danger, she told ESPN she was just going to have to deal with it.

“While the [WNBA] is making the right and necessary strides to pay us more and ensure that if we don’t want to go overseas, we don’t have to, I just feel like in my situation, the money is not comparable. I have to think about the financial status of my family and everybody else, and also the opportunities that I’m leaving if I don’t go.”

Remembering Griner Jones said “I’ve been looking at these pictures that I have on my phone, the last set of pictures I took with her we were going to Valencia or wherever. We were all just joking and laughing around and stuff, and it’s just crazy how fast things can change.” While she has hope things will change she says it probably won’t be in her playing years. For context, Jones and Curry are both power forwards.

In 63 appearances in 2020-21. Stephen Curry averaged 32.0 points, 5.8 assists, and 5.5 rebounds.  In 17 appearances in the same year, Jones has averaged 15.1 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 1.9 assists.  The men’s league plays over 1000 matches per year.  The women play under 300 WNBA and NBA players are comparable in talent so why is the pay so low?

Viewership plays a major role. More people watch the men’s games than women’s games, millions more which means a lot more money for the NBA. But this is not the only reason.

“The president of the WNBA thinks that one of the reasons men are paid more than women is that 50 percent of the NBA’s revenue is shared between the league and the players; however, there is about an 80-20 split for the WNBA. This means that the players only receive about 20% of the WNBA’s total revenue” says one academic paper done on the wage disparities in 2020. The study also referenced the 1,230 games men play each season compared to the women’s 204.

The WNBA has quality players with star value just like the NBA. The issue of lower revenues can be solved in great part, by better publicity, more games on the roster and lower age ranges for players.

Drumming up excitement, seeking out sponsorship deals, greater publicity, and all-star face-offs between the NBA and WNBA are all genuine possibilities that could prove instrumental indrawing tv viewership and courtside attention.

Until then stars like Griner and Jones will continue to relentlessly outsource themselves and play all year round for a piece of the pie their male counterparts take home in a single season.

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TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS POST CABINET MEETING STATEMENT

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#TurksandCaicos, June 25, 2022 – Her Excellency the Acting Governor, Anya Williams, chaired the 19th meeting of Cabinet on Wednesday 22 June 2022 in Grand Turk. All other members were present.

At this meeting Cabinet:

  • Approved the terms and conditions for an application from a land surveyor for a licence.
  • Approved the making of the Revised Edition of the Laws 2021 (Commencement Order) 2022 subject to the approval of the House of Assembly; laws will be now be made available free of charge to members of the public on the Attorney General’s website. Physical reproductions will continue to be sold.
  • Discussed proposed amendments to the Insurance Ordinance as drafting instructions to the Attorney General’s Chambers and consultation with the industry.
  • Approved for the Insurance (Amendment) Bill 2022 to be introduced to the House of Assembly as soon as possible.
  • Approved the revision of the Anti-Money Laundering Committee Budget for the Financial Year 2022/2023 for office furniture and supplies; confirmed annual payments for the annual membership costs to the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Agencies (FIA) and annual costs of the FIA’s travel costs for the Egmont annual meeting.
  • Approved a three year rental lease agreement for the relocation of the Ministry of Tourism, Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, Culture and Heritage, Agriculture, religious Affairs and Gaming, and the Tourist Board and Department of Culture in Providenciales.
  • Approved a lease agreement for a temporary HQ for the Turks & Caicos Islands Regiment in Providenciales.
  • Was updated on the proposed merger of NIB/NHIP Compliance and Collections. Further consideration was requested before Cabinet can take a decision.
  • Noted the award of the following contracts in line with the provisions of the Public Procurement Ordinance:
  1. PN 005600, TR 21/48, Furniture and equipment for Mental Health Facility – Grand Turk
  2. PN 005611, TR 21/30, Ballistic Vests for the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force

III. PN 005614, TR 21/37, Bellefield Landing Civilian Safety Project – Safe Boat Slips

  1. PN 005627, TR 21/53, Furniture and Equipment for Public Works Programme Management
  2. PN 005630, TR 21/08, Vehicles for Government (resubmission)
  • Approved for a request from American Airlines to waive the import customs duties and customs processing fees for replacement parts for an aircraft that had an emergency landing on Providenciales to be forwarded to the House of Assembly for consideration and approval.
  • Noted a paper from the Turks and Caicos Islands Airports Authority (TCIAA) for legislative amendments to be made to the TCIAA Ordinance to regulate industrial action by employees of the TCIAA. Cabinet requested further consideration. Proposed amendments will be considered by the House of Assembly for approval in due course.
  • Approved the grant of a long lease to an applicant for a funeral home and cemetery on 60003/231 PT (2.5 ACRES)

 

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Turks & Caicos Islands Government retains it BBB+ credit rating

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#TurksandCaicos, June 25, 2022 – On the 29th of March 2022, Standard and Poor’s Global (S&P) released the results of the review of the 2021 sovereign credit rating for the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI). S&P has affirmed the country’s sovereign credit rating for long-term bonds, denominated in both domestic and foreign currency, of BBB+. Additionally, the agency also maintained the outlook as Stable for the TCI.

The Rating Agency advised that the stable outlook takes into account that the country’s economy will continue to recover given the strong performance of tourism and will improve in 2022. Furthermore, S&P believes the TCI will continue to adhere to prudent financial management and limit borrowing, and that fiscal reserve balances will increase during the next two years. Additionally, the rating agency also expects continuity in TCI’s institutional relationship with the U.K.

In its report, the rating agency advised that the rationale for the rating was a result of the Country’s institutional and economic profile. That is, the economic recovery led by resurgence in tourism and continued institutional stability. S&P indicated that despite the short-term pressures of the global COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the TCI Government’s prudent actions, aided by the U.K.’s swift transfer of vaccines, allowed international travel to resume as early as the first quarter of 2021. The combination of the Government’s swift response, coupled with pent-up demand in key source markets, led to a strong recovery in tourism, which in turn, has led to a better-than anticipated economic recovery. S&P estimates GDP per capita to be $23,674 in 2021, up from $20,757 in 2020 – a 14% year over year increase. Tourism remains the core pillar of the economy, indirectly accounting for about 65% of GDP.

S&P indicated that the ratings could be revised upwards if better-than-expected GDP increases and continued favorable growth prospects were to substantially boost economic resilience. Additionally, the rating agency also stated that they could also raise the ratings if better availability of timely data, especially on external flows and stocks, were to boost transparency and indicated that TCI enjoyed a significantly stronger economic or external position.

However, if the rebound in tourism is interrupted or turns out to be weaker than expected, leading to prolonged stress on revenues, this may cause the TCI Government to run persistent fiscal deficits that could materially worsen public finances. This could lead to a down grading of the rating.

Commenting on the rating, Minister of Finance, Investment & Trade, Hon. E. Jay Saunders, stated that “I am happy and extremely proud that S&P saw fit to maintain our country’s credit rating at BBB+, particularly at a time when many countries had theirs downgraded – mainly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a testament to the strength of our economy, and particularly, our government’s prudent handling of it. We have taken particular note of S&P’s comment that they could raise the ratings on better availability of timely data, and we are working towards achieving that.”

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