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Christmas And New Year Greetings From Governor Peter Beckingham

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Providenciales, 24 Dec 2015 – A very happy Christmas to everyone in Turks and Caicos!

It is tempting to start a message like this by saying that it has been another eventful year. I’m not sure that, for TCI and most of its residents, it has been any more or less significant than most years. We have, fortunately, escaped the worst of the tropical storms or hurricanes which hit some of our neighbours, and we have been untroubled by some of the traumatic and dreadful events which have hit, through international terrorism, the citizens of Paris and other cities. On a brighter note it was great to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Waterloo residence in Grand Turk, which is an outstanding example in the region of TCI’s history.

So overall we can look back on a year which has seen TCI take a number of steps to strengthening its economy, its tourism and its international standing. By next March the economy will have improved enough for us to pay down most of the remainder of the loan guaranteed by the UK Government in 2010, and to secure a small loan from the commercial banks.

Tourism continues to increase by leaps and bounds and 2015 saw TCI crowned by Trip Advisor as the world’s No.1 island destination. We are now the envy of many of our Caribbean neighbours with a growing air lift across the United States and Canada, with Fort Lauderdale and Chicago being two of the newest cities with direct flights. I’m sure many of us will benefit from the competitive air fares that these new routes bring. We should also not forget the valuable service provided domestically, and internationally, by our two domestic airlines.

Growing alongside these developments we have also been able to enhance our own reputation internationally. Our tourism success is entirely dependent on our standing, and although there remains a worrying level of burglaries and aggravated robbery, and sadly some still unsolved murders, overall our security reputation is high. We wouldn’t get the number of tourist visitors if it wasn’t. Can I pay tribute here to the work of the police force; they sometimes have to put themselves in positions of danger to protect us.

TCI’s international standing was also enhanced by the magnificent achievement of Delano Williams in winning a bronze medal as a member of Great Britain’s 4 x 4 men’s relay team at the World Athletic Championships in Beijing earlier this year. He is a great Ambassador for TCI, I have enjoyed meeting him, and appreciated his support for my wife Jill’s Footsteps4Good walk/run in Provo. We should all wish him well for the Olympics next year.

We need to protect the reputation of our environment. The thousands of tourists who come here expect to see pristine beaches and clean surroundings. I would also like to acknowledge the work of NGOs and many individuals who give up their time to protecting and cleaning up our surroundings. Walking through some of the islands for Jill’s second fund raising event I was able to see what a beautiful environment we have, but how quickly it can be ruined by litter and debris.

Finally, at Christmas, we should of course remind ourselves – in whatever way we see appropriate – of the message of Christmas, about sacrifice and giving. I was interested to hear our politicians, from both main parties, extolling the virtues of graciousness, peace and good will at the lovely Christmas tree lighting in Grand Turk this month. I hope that they, and all of us in Turks and Caicos, will remember those virtues – shown to us above all in the life of Jesus – throughout 2016.

Jill and I look forward to seeing as many of you as we can again next year, and we wish you all a peaceful and happy Christmas, and a blessed and prosperous New Year.

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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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GUYANA needs banks but fears T&T Monopoly

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By Shanieka Smith

Features Writer

 

#Guyana, June 25, 2022 – For the second time in three years, a planned deal has failed between Scotiabank Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago in First Citizens Limited.  Last week, First Citizens issued a legal notice to inform that the Purchase and Sale Agreement between First Citizens Limited and the Bank of Nova Scotia for the sale of Scotiabank’s retail operations in Guyana expired. The agreement was terminated.

However, this time, it is revealed that the Bank of Guyana denied the transaction out of concern that Republic Bank would gain a near-monopoly position in the Guyanese banking sector.

President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Timothy Tucker, said, “If the Republic bank, Scotia Bank merger was done, it would have over 50 percent of the depository…so that is why that deal was rejected.”

He added that “Republic bank had made an attempt to buy Scotia Bank Guyana and like any regulator, in any jurisdiction anywhere in the world, if a bank is then going to, if the acquisition of a bank is going to create a monopoly or something that can be detrimental to the depository institutions, then you will have a problem.”

The First Citizens, Scotia Guyana deal received backlash from regulators when it was announced in March 2021. Guyana’s Minister of Finance, Dr Ashni Singh, and the Bank of Guyana have both criticised the announcement.

“The announcement] was premature and inappropriate, said Minister Singh back then. The Bank of Guyana said FCB, “entered the said agreement without informing the BOG.”

Last year, the lapse caused institutions and business people in the region, especially Guyana, a considerable amount of money.

Tucker said the announcement had raised alarms around the business community and added that a local institution in Guyana, the Bank for Trade and Industry, placed a higher offer for Scotiabank, and Scotia Bank went with First Citizens. While he is uncertain of the reason for that, he said that if the agreement were successful, two Trinidad banks would control over 50 percent of the depository institutions within Guyana.

Tucker made it known that Trinidad and Tobago banks are not blacklisted; the Republic Bank remained the largest bank in Guyana. He added that he would welcome more Trinidad and Tobago banks in Guyana since it only has a few banking institutions. The only issue is that the banks must enter independently and not at the expense of foreign banks like Scotia.

“So the local private sector, while we are advocating hard for our more financial institutions, we don’t mind First Citizens applying for a banking license and coming in as a regional bank, but when we are going to lose one of our international banks to a regional bank, the business sector has a problem with that,” he said,” We don’t control the process. Even if we have a problem with that, it’s a free capital market. Companies are free to sell to whomever they choose to sell. We support that. But at the same time, we are worried about the concentration of our depository institutions into the region alone. This isn’t going for Trinidad banks; it goes for if a bank from Jamaica came to buy Scotiabank. We would fundamentally have an issue with it,” he said.

First Citizens Bank said it would continue to pursue “geographic diversification and digital transformation strategies.” In the meantime, Tucker is hoping it will open other opportunities for Guyana.

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