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Natl Scholars case reports misleading & adversarial?

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Providenciales, 25 Feb 2016 – The Ministry of Education is adamant that it has won 11 of the 12 allegations mounted against them in that law suit where three students challenged whether the 2014 selection process for National Scholars was fair and followed.

In a release from the Minister, there is explanation that the case questioned Hon Akierra Missick’s discretion or good judgment; charging, according to the statement, that the Minister “acted irrationally”. Well, the Minister denies that there was any irrational decision and contends that the judge agrees.

It was said, “She noted that the Minister among other things, did not act irrational, acted within her authority and there was no breach of natural justice and based on the policy must look at the results over a two year period.”

Despite this point, the bottom line for those following the case is that the Chief Justice of the Turks and Caicos Islands ultimately quashed the selection decision of the National Scholars Committee for the year 2014 and has asked them to return to the table because the decision was not fair to Tristan Greene and Ryesha Higgs.

The Ministry of Education said in that media release that there was irresponsible reporting and that the public was misled in those reports. Some were chided by the Ministry for making the story adversarial, yet in the very same statement issued by the Ministry of Education there are constant uses of words and phrases like ‘challenge’, ‘against’, ‘ruled in favor’, ‘allegations’, ‘were not satisfied’ and more … including the most glaring of all, ‘judicial review’.

These words and phrases are evidence that it is not the media or general public which created an adversarial situation; but those involved in the case directly namely: the Minister of Education, the National Scholars Committee, Tristan Greene, Davonte Smith and Ryesha Higgs and of course their parents. This was a dispute that went to the court because it needed a judge to settle a disagreement.

Education also says its statement was issued in part, to make clear that this case was about the process and not the players. The win on the one allegation for the trio of students, was the major matter and it was a major victory which now has the power to see the process of selection altered.

From the Ministry of Education’s press release of late Wednesday, “The court did observe that it is time for a review of the policy. This is an ongoing process. Based on the judgment of Justice Ramsay, the Minister will reconsider the matter in light of the court’s analysis. The court did rule that the Minister’s decision not to award the title of National Scholar on Greene and Higgs based on the criteria applied by committee and the names offered from principals to the subcommittee was wrong.”

Wrong. And it is that fact that will send this committee back to the drawing board, and as the Minister stated herself, will now have to name both Tristan Greene, an A level student at British West Indies Collegiate and Ryesha Higgs, a biology student at Long Island University in New York, as 2014 National Scholars.

As for what scholarship reward each will receive; that resolve remains unresolved until the Committee meets.

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Open Letter to Governor Dakin

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Dear H.E. Governor Dakin,

The time has come for us as a nation to stand as a unified front on matters regarding our beautiful country, the Turks & Caicos Islands. Our country, as it stands, is in a state of turmoil and I am afraid that if we do not act now, all will be lost. As such, I write on behalf of the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands, who are feeling neglected by this Government, the Commissioner of Police, and, regrettably, yourself.

Your Excellency, while crime prevention is a shared responsibility, it is expected that the relevant authorities and persons placed in key positions for crime prevention would have the strongest impact. However, I am sure that you are aware that the citizens have lost complete faith in our police force and continue to live in fear in what is supposed to be a peaceful and safe Turks and Caicos Islands. This only causes one to wonder, what can and should be done to regain control?

The People’s Democratic Movement has, on a number of occasions, stated our position on this crime matter, even offering a number of solutions to combat crime, for instance, the parties’ 12 point crime plan approach. The sad reality is that crime will always exist in any country, but as leaders we must ensure that the right deterrents are in place to reduce the risk.

I am no expert in the field of combating crime, but I do know that by taking the basic preventative measures, such as those that have been mentioned by my party and many citizens alike, we will see a swift reduction in crime.

Nevertheless, I call on you, Your Excellency, to stand on your role in national Security, as we all have come to the realization that the current approach isn’t working. Your Excellency, we are nearing a state of emergency. As you are responsible for national security of which crime is included, we need you to make those bold decisions, even if this means requesting the assistance of the military. I hereby also offer these measures that should be implemented in the interim:

  • Construct new Police stations in each community on the island of Providenciales, with a minimum of two patrol units stationed within those communities, with daily patrols and adequate staff.

  • Investment of 30-50 new patrol units.

  • Investment of a mobile police station that can be visible in other areas at various times throughout each day. We need more police officers on the streets, who can be accessible by our citizens.

Your Excellency, I say again, the current approach is failing. We need experts who will come to work and not use the opportunity to vacation. Let’s also invest in hiring some of the best experts who can assist with solving these crimes and bringing closure to the families who have lost love ones. The fact of the matter remains – there are too many unsolved cases in this country! The people of this beautiful country are not asking for much, we just want those in positions to do what they are being paid to do.

We cannot have our people living in fear, Your Excellency. I believe we need stricter penalties in place, such as the approach Jamaica recently took with a mandatory 15 years in person if caught with an illegal firearm. In addition, we can consider cancelling all bail applications for serious crimes offences. These are the kind of approaches that just may reduce or have one second guessing their decision before committing criminal acts.

In closing, I ask that you provide the people of Turks and Caicos with some reassurance, not in the form of words in a speech but swift and effective action. Your Excellency, please also note, that if these matters aren’t addressed prior to your departure as Governor, then you would have also failed the great people of Turks and Caicos Islands.

I thank you for your time and I do hope that this letter resonates with you and encourages change.

 

Robert Been

Deputy Leader

People’s Democratic Movement

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Bahamas News

BFN urges Bahamians to pay attention to hunger ‘crisis’

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Great Commission Ministries thanks network for nearly a decade of support

 

#TheBahamas, September 26, 2022 – Bahamas Feeding Network (BFN) director, Mario Carey, is making an urgent plea to the public to pay attention to the hunger crisis that many face in The Bahamas.

Carey made the comments as he and BFN Executive Director Archdeacon James Palacious paid a visit to Great Commission Ministries, one of nearly 100 feeding centres that BFN regularly supports and a beneficiary of the network for nearly 10 years.

“It’s sad and shocking to see the extent of this issue in The Bahamas,” said Carey.

“This is a crisis that isn’t being adequately addressed. How is it that in The Bahamas so many people go hungry every day and it’s such a struggle to feed them?”

The plea came just days ahead of the BFN’s inaugural golf tournament, ‘Tee Off for Hunger’ which BFN hopes will raise funds to provide more than 50,000 meals in the fight against hunger.

In recent months, BFN has been providing more than 70,000 meals per month to the most vulnerable in The Bahamas. And Palacious said the hunger problem in the country continues to be a dire one.

Palacious said the demand BFN is facing has remained steadily high, particularly as Bahamians continue to struggle with an increasing cost of living and continued high unemployment.

“It’s concerning to see the extent of the need in our country,” said Palacious.

“And at the Bahamas Feeding Network, we do all we can to provide assistance, but the demand is great and ceaseless. We deeply appreciate and ask for the continued support of the business community and the public at large to be able to carry on our work in these difficult times.”

Bishop Walter Hanchell, founder and president of Great Commission Ministries, said the organization has been seeing a sustained increase in people seeking help with the basic necessities in recent months.

Great Commission Ministries provides hot meals to roughly 500 people each day, in addition to distributing meals to the sick and shut-in, as well as the provision of grocery packages to struggling families.

Hanchell, who has been helping to feed Bahamians for over three decades, said the past few months have been challenging, as more and more new faces show up seeking assistance. Although the organization receives monetary and in-kind support, the need frequently outweighs the supply.

“Every day you see it,” said Hanchell. “And we are seeing more middle-class people who are now struggling. We help as many as we can, but of course we have limited resources.”

Carey said Hanchell’s observations point clearly to a worsening problem.

“The thing is, this is just one organization, and there are hundreds of them,” said Carey.

The Bahamas Feeding Network spends over $120,000 on its monthly efforts. And Palacious said a generous patron who covers the network’s monthly rent helps to ensure that just a small percentage of donations goes towards administration costs.

Carey said now is the time for everyone to take the issue of hunger in The Bahamas seriously.

“This is beatable,” he said. “We can beat this if people buy into it and everyone makes a contribution.”

Hanchell echoed his sentiments, noting that homelessness is another serious issue that he is working to combat, with plans underway to construct a 100-bed shelter next year.

“We are going to be asking a lot of corporate Bahamas, and the government and private citizens to make that happen,” he said.

Hanchell added, “In November we celebrate 35 years of nonstop ministry and we thank God for the Bahamas Feeding Network and all that they have done to support us over the years. They have been a tremendous blessing.

“It’s not been an easy road but the Lord has been with us.”

 

Photo Caption: Bahamas Feeding Network (BFN) representatives visit long-time beneficiary Great Commission Ministries. L-R: Great Commission Ministries Elder Mina Hanchell, Great Commission Ministries President Bishop Walter Hanchell, BFN Executive Director Archdeacon James Palacious, BFN Director Mario Carey, Aventus Ventures CEO Kevin Hobbs, Great Commission Ministries Operations Manager Maxine Bethel

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Caribbean News

CHTA President calls for “Dynamic Tax” to address high cost of air travel

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#CaymanIslands, September 26, 2022 – The President of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) is recommending a tiered “dynamic taxation system” as a novel and potential solution to address ongoing concerns about the high cost of air travel within and to and from the region.

Calling for a flexible approach to levying airline taxes, CHTA’s President Nicola Madden-Greig said one of the major constraints facing Caribbean travel is the heavy burden of taxation, and governments could well consider successful revenue management tactics employed within the tourism and aviation sector.

Understanding that the full removal of taxes may be challenging, the CHTA president suggested a tax policy that is responsive to international travel demand seasonality. “For example, governments can affix a higher airline ticket tax in the peak winter season and lower taxes in the summer when demand is weak,” she said, adding that giving consumers better prices to drive visitation during the slow season could boost tourism, commerce and intra-regional VFR (Visiting Friends and Relatives) travel.

Speaking recently at IATA Caribbean Aviation Day in Grand Cayman, the successful Jamaican hotelier said the economics of such a variable policy may in fact result in a net gain in tax revenue to Caribbean governments. “As travel becomes more affordable and we stimulate more travel, this will result in more local spending, and consequently an increase in local tax collections,” she said, underscoring there will be an overall net benefit to the consumer thanks to lower ticket prices.

“I think it’s a concept that should be explored,” said Madden-Greig, who argued that a well-developed strategy could address diverse perspectives on taxation. “There’s a way to do it that allows for flexibility so you still have taxation on the front end, but when you need to drive demand, you can reduce those taxes and make up the difference on the tail end,” she said. The taxation details however must be transparent, she warned.

Madden-Greig, the Jamaica-based Group Director of Marketing & Sales at The Courtleigh Hospitality Group, said she hopes to explore the “dynamic taxation strategy” at the upcoming Caribbean Travel Forum, taking place at CHTA’s Caribbean Travel Marketplace in San Juan, Puerto Rico, October 3 to 5, 2022.

“This could definitely answer the call for reduction in taxes, but not a reduction necessarily all year-round,” the CHTA president explained, suggesting that policy makers could consider alternate tax regimes for regional and international flights in order to drive multi-destination and intra-regional travel.

She admitted that research is required on the technological options to implement the system: “It may not be an immediate solution, but it’s a solution we can work towards.”

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