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CANADIAN GOVERNMENT ADDS CARICOM NATIONS TO WATCH LIST

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CARICOM Nations are now added to a watch list issued by the Canadian Government and that includes the Turks and Caicos; again this stems from the outbreak of the mosquito borne and sexually transmitted Zika Virus.  The Bahamas, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago are among the CARICOM member states named; the Turks and Caicos is named in a separate notice from Public Health Agency of Canada where pregnant women and those considering pregnancy are told they should avoid travel to the Turks and Caicos, among others. 

While Zika and its threats are causing serious health concern within these territories for its residents, the Zika Virus is also a major blow to travel to the region.  In a PBS News Hour article, the Caribbean Tourism Organization or CTO, Secretary General, Hugh Riley is quoted saying what worries him more than the cancellations is the missed business, ‘That is the unknown number of people who may opt out of booking travel to the Caribbean altogether.”

CARPHA Executive Director, Dr. James Hospedales is also quoted in the piece from February with, “We’re very concerned about it. And it’s hard to avoid the media amplification, even a 2-to-3 percent decline in tourism is a huge blow, especially for countries that are already in debt or whose economies are struggling.”

The article also shared some statistics on the region:  ‘The Caribbean is one of the most tourism-dependent regions in the world, it says. Comprised of more than 700 islands spanning 30 territories, the West Indies sees more than 25 million visitors annually and the U.S. is its No. 1 source. About 15 million Americans visit the Caribbean for vacation every year, contributing nearly $50 billion toward the region’s overall GDP.

According to the Caribbean Public Health Agency or CARPHA, 45 Caribbean and Latin American countries are now reporting Zika.  As of August 30, the CARICOM countries were cited in the Canadian travel notice.

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‘Incredible Environment’ for Real Estate continues for Turks and Caicos

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Garfield Ekon

Staff Writer

 

 

#TurksandCaicos, April 18, 2024 – Tourism and real estate sales continue to boom in the Turks and Caicos Island (TCI), over other Caribbean territories, with sales numbers and pre-construction sales numbers reflecting an incredible environment.

There are hosts of opportunities for new development offerings, some currently under construction and some that are about to announce their plans. A number of the larger parcels of beachfront land in Providenciales will be reshaped into high-end, branded hotels, and residences to keep pace with the seemingly endless demand for investment and vacation properties.

In a report by the Turks & Caicos Sotheby’s International Realty, it states that “our superb tourism offerings continue to attract A-listers from around the globe as seen throughout the social media channels as well as buyers looking for a place to call home amongst the abundant turquoise blue ocean views throughout, the temperate climate, and tranquil laid-back Caribbean atmosphere,” the report said.

It added that the first quarter of this year witnessed another major groundbreaking celebration in Providenciales, by the same developers of The Ritz-Carlton Residences with The St Regis on Grace Bay, as well as the formal public sales launch by Grace Bay Resorts with The Point.

The two new luxury developments have already recorded over 70% (St Regis Tower I of three towers) and 65% (The Point) units sold/reserved. The Loren on Turtle Cove, which broke ground in June 2023, is showing a unit sales production of 52%, and Andaz Turks & Caicos after officially breaking ground last year, is reporting unit sales production at 65%. ARC at South Bank is 50% sold with construction to start in May of this year.

“This new condominium inventory is satiating the overdue demand with buyers who are willing to wait for up to three years for the completion of the resort properties. We are also gaining momentum on some of the boutique new developments, such as Villas at Blue Mountain, with multiple pre-sales which will soon start construction, and The Summit at Blue Mountain, which has strong momentum and is well under construction,” the report further added.

While the pre-construction sales in the Condominium Sector are high and not officially recorded within our TCREA MLS statistics, in this 1st Quarter, the re-sale condominium sales volume was $18M, 25%-65% lower in comparison to the past three years with the average price remaining high at $1.1M which resulted in a $/SF of $1,100 at the luxury end (+$1.5M).

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Paid internship opportunity in Energy Data Collection,  Application DEADLINE is April 19

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April 19, 2024 – The Caribbean Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (CCREEE) in cooperation with the Energy and Utilities Department (EUD), Ministry of Public Safety and Utilities (MPSU), is looking for a motivated intern to work in close collaboration with regional and national institutions to survey and collect energy-related data that will be used to create the Energy Report Cards (ERCs) for the Turks and Caicos Islands. A stipend for the intern will be provided by CCREEE.

The intern will be based at the EUD/MPSU. The internship program will provide students and/or young professionals with a unique opportunity to work with the energy sector institutions and stakeholders in TCI, gain practical experience in the energy sector, and contribute to the knowledge management functions of the Regional Energy Information System within the CARICOM Energy Knowledge Hub (CEKH).

SCOPE OF WORK

The CCREEE in collaboration with the EUD/MPSU will collect specified data and information that will be used to develop the TCI Energy Report Cards which will be made accessible through the CARICOM Energy Knowledge Hub (CEKH). The hub may be accessed by registering at https://cekh.ccreee.org. The Energy Report Cards will also offer important support to the CCREEE work program, including support for energy planning and the development of sustainable energy projects.

DESIRED PROFILE

  • Bachelor’s degree or on course for completion of one by December 2024.
  • Interest in the energy sector and willingness to learn about the socio-economic, technical and environmental aspects of the energy landscape; studies in sustainable energy, environmental sciences or related fields are an asset but not a National or resident of one of the relevant countries.
  • Proficiency in English.

INTERNSHIP TIMEFRAME

The internship will run for a period of eight (8) weeks from May 27 to July 19, 2024.

APPLICATION

The intern applicant should send their application (motivation letter and CV) on or before April 19, 2024 to recruitment@ccreee.org and copy eud@gov.tc.

 Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

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$485 Million Budget for TCI; Figures Revealed for 2024-2025

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Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, April 19, 2024 – The PNP Administration is using their final budgetary allocation, an all-time high of $485 million to do ‘More in ‘24 ’ according to Washington Misick, TCI Premier and Finance Minister, when he opened the 2024/25 budget debates on April 16.

A people-focused budget is what Misick says the PNP has created for residents with tackling cost of living as its ‘number one priority.’Citing the expanding economy with rates over 12 percent and the possibility of a revised A Economy rating he said:

”The one thing that keeps me up at night is the constant quest for ways to help our people, especially those in the middle-income bracket and those below the poverty line. Our macroeconomic success must translate to human and social development. It must mean well organized and functioning communities where modern amenities are available and it must mean a better life for all.”

The Premier cited this determination as the reason for denying the recent FortisTCI application for an electricity rate increase and lowered fuel taxes.

In the Construction realm, Misick maintained the government was leveraging its power to deliver for residents as well while criticizing the PDM for allowing wealthy contractors to slide without paying maximum taxes

“Everywhere you turn there’s a new building going up— because of the splitting of purchase contracts for land and construction by foreign wealthy individuals, which the former administration supported, the government is earning less from stamp duty but I promise that will change,” The. Premier said

Misick revealed that the PNP had removed tax holidays, allowing more money to flow into the country from large developments.

Misick doubled down on his administration’s commitment to social welfare programs highlighting the over $6 million increase in welfare since the start of their tenure. For retirees, a 20 percent increase has been granted and the pension fund now has $21 million as of March 31, 2024.

”Fairness to us is supporting people out of poverty not trapping them in a cycle of dependence,” he maintained.

In terms of figures many remained unchanged from the draft budget tabled two weeks earlier. Revenue remained at $452 million while expenditure went up to $389 million.

The GDP of the country grew by 13.7 percent in 2023 and is projected to grow by 4 percent in 2024, and the TCI is now listed as a ‘positive’ economy up from a ‘stable’ rating.

TCIG only managed to spend 29 million out of the 57 million that was budgeted for capital projects which the premier blamed on the drawn-out procurement process, outdated laws, and insufficient resources. He maintained that the government is spending 300,000 in this financial year to review the procurement process. Optimistically TCIG again budgeted $63 million for capital projects this year.

The $485 million budget for 2024/25 was split into 10 main parts.

  1. $117.4 million – Public Service (Offices of Governor, House of Assembly, Ministries etc.)
  2. $ 90.5 million – Health
  3. $86.5 million –  Economic Affairs (Environmental and Coastal Resources,  Media, Energy and Utilities, Infrastructure Development including land acquisition, Tourism Product Enhancement, Agriculture, and Catastrophic Risk Insurance)
  4. $71.6 million –  Public Order and Safety ( $39.0 million will go towards Police Services, $20.9 million to the Judiciary, $19.2 million for Customs and Border Protection, Immigration, and Repatriations, $7.7 million for Prisons, and  $1.5 million has been allocated for Fire and Rescue.)
  5. $58.7 million – Education (Special Needs, Community College, Primary, Secondary and Daycare)
  6. $27.0 million – Social Protection
  7. $18.8 million – Estate Management, Housing and Community Amenities
  8. $9.6 million Defense (National Security Secretariat, Military, Disaster Management)
  9. $3.1 million  – Environmental Protection
  10. $1.3 million – Culture

The Premier also broke down a list of priority initiatives encapsulated in the allocation, they included:

  • $157.3 million for staff costs, around $30.7 million compared to the previous year.
  • $6 million for the Community Enhancement Projects/Works Programme across all islands.
  • $3.7 million for the Border Force
  • $3.5 million for the pay and grading exercise of statutory bodies.
  • $3.1 million for the Senior Citizens’ Financial Assistance Programme.
  • $1.5 million was added to Social Welfare allocations for a total of $10.1 million.
  • $1.4 million to cover an increase of 20 percent for pensioners and former legislators.
  • $900,000 for MSME Investment, which includes funding for training programs, technical assistance, and opportunities for business development.
  • $ 300,000 for the Prison Reforms and the Juvenile Intervention and Diversionary Programme to review the prison resourcing model within the Department of Correctional Services.
  • $ 800,000 for additional staff enhancement of the growth and capability of the TCI Regiment to strengthen the islands’ security against illicit activities.

As for how the Turks and Caicos will afford all of this, revenue is expected to be $465 million leaving the country in a deficit of $19 million. Misick admitted, though, that it was unlikely that the deficit would come to fruition.

The top ten earners are expected to be:

  • $119.6 million – Accommodation Tax
  • $112.5 million –  Import Duties
  • $54.2 million – Other Receipts
  • $50 million – Stamp Duty on Land Transactions
  • $42.9 million – Work Permit
  • $38.8million – Other Customs Duties
  • $11 million – Excess Revenue from Ports and Sea Travel Taxes –
  • $10.9million – Fuel Tax
  • $7.9 million – Vehicles and Driver’s License Fees
  • $7.3 million – Business and Banking Related Receipts

Misick maintained that the PNP is delivering for the people, and the budget would provide ‘More in ‘24’, he said:

”If you recall, when we came to office in 2021, I made it clear that this is “The People’s Term” We have never wavered from that commitment. We have used the People’s Contract as our guidepost to ensure that we deliver on the promise—Our budget is designed to give our people opportunities and change their lives for the better.”

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