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Premier Of The Turks And Caicos Islands, Dr. The Honourable Rufus W. Ewing Addresses The Foreign Affairs Committee On Governance In London

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London, United Kingdom, Tuesday December 1, 2015 – The Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands, Dr. The Honourable Rufus W. Ewing, yesterday, made representation on matters of governance as it relates to the Overseas Territories and particularly, as it relates to the Turks and Caicos Islands.

The address was delivered to members of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the presence of other Overseas Territories Leaders, who are gathered in London this week to attend the Joint Ministerial Conference 2015.
The Premier’s address, which was delivered in part (due to time constraints) but later submitted, read:
“Members of the FAC it gives me great pleasures of address you all here this morning on behalf of the British Overseas Territories on the issue of governance.

“The Overseas territories enjoy a long period of relationship with the United Kingdom Government ranging from Bermuda in the early 1600s to the British Antarctic Territory as recent as 1908.
“The territories have in common the Queen as the head of state who is represented in the territories by a Governor or such person appointed by the FCO whose authority varies across the territories ranging from limited reserve powers in areas of foreign affairs, security and defense to those far reaching powers and responsibilities extending into the internal administrative governance of the territories which often overshadow the roles and responsibilities of locally elected government.

“These governance and administrative arrangements are laid out within each territory’s constitution where the good governance framework also receives its genesis and are refined by subordinate good governance legislations giving birth to good governance bodies.

“Even though each overseas may territory differ greatly from each other in size, population, economy, administrative capacity and level of political maturity, each territory has a right to self determination and self governance based on the settle will of the peoples of each territory and this self determination include the choice to remain a British OT. The British government has the responsibility to ensure that the territories are protected and are provided with a constitutional and governance framework that ensures good governance and supports progressive move towards self governance in whatever form.

“The constitutional construct varies greatly between the overseas territories and the rationalization for such construct seems haphazard and reactionary to circumstance in many instances and not based on the principles of the UK’s responsibility as laid out in the UN Convention and principles of modern democracies and good governance.
“There are many territories who feel strongly that the reserve powers of the governor are too wide in scope and overreaching into the daily executive decisions of the territory. There are many territories who feels that the governor has too much influence in the legislature in addition to veto powers.
“There are many territories who feels that the UK’s persistence as borne in the constitutional construct, to separate politics from governance the territories undermines the ability of locally elected politicians to deliver their political mandate and a shift in decision making powers to the FCO.
“There are many overseas territories who are concerned about not only the reserve powers of their governor but also the method and criteria used for the selection of their governor as this impacts heavily not only on the style of governance but the extent of interference of the governor outside of their constitutional remit.
“Ladies and gentleman I have spoken broadly on governance arrangements and concerns that you may find across the OTs, so I now turn my attention specifically to the Turks and Caicos Islands to highlight such governance concerns.
“The Turks and Caicos Islands as a UK Overseas Territory was administered via its own Governor since 1972 after the Bahamas went independent and in 1976 gain its own constitution that permitted elected ministerial system of governance.

“The Turks and Caicos Islands has had its constitution suspended twice for allegations of maladministration and corruption as was discovered in two commissions of inquiries. There are many including myself who still question the need for suspension of the constitution as a necessity to intervene and correct and weakness in governance as whatever failures there were did not have its origin in the constitution. The elected government of the TCI believe in and embraces the good governance bodies that have been implemented prior to and during the direct rule from the UK, but we are of the view that there are many provisions within the new TCI constitution when combined with the mandates of the good governance institutions stiffles the ability of any elected goverment to govern effectively.
“Governance in the Turks and Caicos Islands is even further controlled by the UK via the new role of a Chief Financial Officer who has decision making and veto powers as it relates to financial management as a condition of the U.K. loan guarantee which will expire in February of this year. The financial legislative framework in the Turks and Caicos outside of the provisions for a CFO has many provisions for safeguarding and ensuring sound financial management and we as an elected government are sufficiently confident that with these systems in place there would be no need for a CFO beyond the timeframe specified.

“There are many concerns related to the current Turks and Caicos Islands Constitution and these concerns were well articulated in the recent report on the TCI Constitution and the subsequent House of Assembly recommendations for constitutional amendments which were submitted to the FCO. In the new year we will be addressing these concerns and other governance issues with a bipartisan team interfacing with the FCO and this FAC so as to improve and strengthen the relationship between the TCI and the U.K. Government with respect to governance in the best interest of the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands.

“Mr. Chair on behalf of the Overseas Territories I thank you for this opportunity to address this body today on these issues of governance.”

The meeting with the Foreign Affairs Committee was the first of several to be held with the Overseas Territories Leaders and key UK Government Committees and officials, including the Plenary Sessions of the Joint Ministerial Council, which also began yesterday, December 1st at Lancaster House in London.
Premier Ewing is scheduled to deliver another address at the JMC later today at the Plenary Session on the Challenges Facing Small Island Economies.

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Bahamas News

Over 68,000 STAYED HOME in Bahamas Elections; We have BEST and WORST for Voter Participation

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#TheBahamas, September 21, 2021 – The just-concluded General Election in Bahamas has presented a new shift in governance.  The former ruling part, Free National Movement, lost nearly all the electoral seats it secured in the 2017 general elections.  However, this seems a swap of the Progressive Liberal party’s score in the 2017 general elections in which the former ruling party (FNM) won nearly all the parliamentary seats.

68,000 STAYED AWAY

While the FNM secured 35 out of 39 seats in the 2017 ballot, leaving only four slots for the Opposition, the 2021 elections presented “new day” with the Opposition clinching 32 parliamentary seats, leaving the former ruling party FNM with only seven slots.

However, the election results showed a significant drop in voter turnout compared to the 2017 election results. Out of 194,494 registered voters in The Bahamas, only 126,414 voted, translating to 65 per cent voter turnout.

PREVIOUS ELECTION HIGHER

This was different from the previous election in which 160,407 out of 181,543 registered voters cast their ballots, translating to a remarkable 88.36 per cent voter turnout.

Being the first election in the island nation since the Covid-19 struck the Caribbean; the dismal voter turnout could be attributed to the severe impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in The Bahamas and the current countermeasures taken by individuals to avoid contracting the deadly virus.

It could also be voter apathy.

BEST IN SHOW

Despite coronavirus prevalence in the country, North Andros & Berry Islands, Cat Island, Rum Cay & San Salvador, and Mangrove Cay & South Andros constituencies recorded an impressive voter turnout of 77.99 per cent, 76.11 per cent and 73.06 per cent respectively.

North Andros & Berry Islands had 2,126 out of 2,569 registered voters cast their ballots, followed by 1,255 out of 1,622 in Cat Island, Rum Cay & San Salvador, and 1,706 out of 2,164 registered voters in Mangrove Cay & South Andros.

VERY LOW SHOW

The bottom three constituencies in terms of voter turnout include Bamboo Town, which had 3,436 out of 5,838 (58.63 per cent) registered voters cast their ballot, followed by Garden Hills with 3,033 out of 5,287 (57.09 per cent), and   Central & South Abaco falling at the bottom of the list with 1,844 out of 3,271 (55.96 per cent).

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COVID Works programme launched by Ministry of Physical Planning & Infrastructure Development

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#TurksandCaicos, September 21, 2021 – The Minister of Physical Planning and Infrastructure Development, the Honourable Akierra Mary Deanne Missick and the Physical Planning & Infrastructure Development team are pleased to announce the launch of the COVID WORKS Programme, that went live on September 1, 2021.

The Programme seeks to support many who have lost jobs and livelihoods, while providing labour intensive work for economic exchange opportunities for persons to be engaged.

Works are set out in three (3) levels and comprise a variety of categories example, cleaning, road works, demolition and general construction to name a few.

Level 1 – value $1,500 – $9,999

Level 2 – value $10,000 – $39,999

Level 3 – value $40,000 – $70,000

Turks and Caicos Islanders with valid business licenses are also being encouraged to submit proposals to the Public Works Department for consideration for works throughout the islands. 

Commenting on the launch of the programme, Hon. Missick said, “We are very much mindful of the impact that restrictions introduced by Government in an effort to mitigate the spread of Covid-19, has had on the islands, many continue to experience financial hardship. Whilst, the hospitality and construction sectors in Providenciales have rebounded well, as an Administration, we cannot rest knowing that other industries are still limping along.

As a result, during the remainder of this financial year, the Turks & Caicos Islands Government has now launched the COVID Works Programme to provide an opportunity for Petty and Small Contractors to assist the Government in the enhancement of our communities, through programmed works, to the benefit of all of us as residents”.

The Minister went on to note, “This Programme is set to the tune of US$5,000,000.00, and works will be rolled out across the Islands in batches, as we have to ensure that we do not go beyond the allotted expenditure and that financial oversight and transparency are maintained.”

The initial batch of works for South Caicos, which comprised the following, was returned and evaluated on Monday, September 13, 2021 and included:

South Caicos 

Demolition- Queen’s Shed

Demolition- Distribution Concrete Tank

Demolition- Old Clinic Building

Demolition- DECR Building

Demolition- Library Building

Repair of Water Cistern

Works for Grand Turk included:

Grand Turk 

Demolition- Blood Bank Building

Demolition- Geriatric Ward Building

Demolition- Kitchen Building

Demolition- X-ray Building

All returning bids must be sent to the COVID Works email at tcigworks@gov.tc

Kindly note that as of Monday, September 20, 2021, the following works are planned to be released:

Grand Turk: 

Beach Cleaning (Eastern portion of Grand Turk)

Street Cleaning (All areas)

Providenciales:

Beach cleaning (Areas of Shore Club and Five Cays)

Street Cleaning (All areas)

A number of other works for Middle & North Caicos, as well as Salt Cay will be released shortly. This is a six month program that will spread throughout the TCI and we encourage persons to continue to register via tcigworks@gov.tc or the local Public Works Department and District Commissioners’ offices, to be eligible for this opportunity.

These works will continue on a monthly basis and the programme will come to an end in March 2022.

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Bahamas News

BAHAMAS: Nine new Cabinet ministers sworn-in

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#TheBahamas, September 21, 2021 – Prime Minister the Hon. Philip Davis today introduced the first set of new Cabinet ministers with portfolios covering the Attorney General, Foreign Affairs, Education, Works and Public Utilities, Health and Wellness, Government Affairs, Agriculture, National Security and Legal Affairs.

The nine ministers were sworn-in on Monday 20 September 2021 by Governor-General the Most Hon. Sir Cornelius A. Smith during ceremonies held at the Baha Mar Convention Center.

“They are the initial members of a Cabinet which will reflect the breadth and depth of the competencies and characteristics of our team: experience combined with innovation; expertise combined with a willingness to see things anew; integrity and a strong sense of purpose,” said Prime Minister Davis.

“They are receiving these appointments because of their determination to get things done.”

Among the new Ministers sworn-in on Monday were:

  • Senator the Hon. L. Ryan Pinder, Attorney General;
  • Hon. Fred Mitchell, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Public Service;
  • Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin, Minister of Education, and Technical and Vocational Training;
  • Hon. Alfred Sears, Minister of Works and Utilities;
  • Dr. Hon. Michael Darville, Minister of Health and Wellness;
  • Senator the Hon. Michael Halkitis, Minister of Government Affairs and Leader of Government Business in the Senate;
  • Hon. Clay Sweeting, Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs;
  • Hon. Wayne Munroe, Minister of National Security; and
  • Hon. Jomo Campbell, Minister of State for Legal Affairs.

“I am confident that these first-appointed members of our Cabinet team are ready to deliver on the promise of a New Day for our Bahamas,” said the Prime Minister.

Prime Minister Davis pledged to move with urgency to address the economic and health crises that are faced by The Bahamas.

Many thousands of Bahamians are out of work, people are losing too many loved ones to the COVID-19 virus and Bahamian schoolchildren are falling behind, said Prime Minister Davis.

“I want to be clear: we are not here to tinker at the edges of these problems,” said the Prime Minister.

“We are here to meet them head on.”

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