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TCI Govt forced to reorganise spending; includes hiring freeze

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#TurksandCaicos, November 13, 2017 – Providenciales – Turks and Caicos revenue has taken a severe hit according to Premier and Finance Minister Sharlene Robinson; 65% down for September which was the month of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.   At the Public Meeting in Provo on Monday evening it was revealed that a projected $20m in recurrent revenue is dwindled to $7m intake for the month of September instead; representing a 65% decline.   October figures are not yet ready explained Premier Robinson, but they are expected to also reflect a dip.

The TCI will have to borrow next year despite having the stipulated cash reserves in the bank; these reserves were said to be $101m.    This cash reserves money, shared the Premier, is mandatorily saved, allowing the country to have 90 days of operational expenditure on hand at all times.  Still the TCI is in a fragile state; spending dramatically outpacing income.   The remedy?  Immediate streamlining said the leader in the PDM Administration.

IMG-20171113-WA0021The Premier said Cabinet will tomorrow receive the financial recovery plan and the formula is simple: ‘cut down on Government Expenditure.’   The streamline plan will mean a freeze on government hiring, reprioritizing of the EDF money from the European Union to rebuild schools instead of adding a new one and the shelving of some Capital projects.   Bills to TCIG following Hurricane Irma are already up to $1.2m and the money to pay the invoices will be taken from the Contingency Fund said the Finance Minister.

The Caribbean Disaster Management Agency (CDEMA) report exposed that about 80% of buildings across the country were damaged.  Government had major structural losses and an estimate to rebuild has climbed to over $10m, not including furniture replacement.

The Premier during her presentation said an additional $400,000 came in as a result of the country’s claim following Hurricane Maria from the CCRIF.   In all, over $15m was received from the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility.

The Turks and Caicos was blessed with £50,000 from the Falkland Islands; three new trucks from Gibraltar; $10,000 from a private company in The Bahamas and a commitment of $200,000 from the Caribbean Development Bank.

There were reports from all Ministers including Education, Tourism, Home Affairs and Infrastructure.  The Border Control and Health ministers were not at the public meeting held at the Graceway Sports Complex.

#MagneticMediaNews

#Provopublicmeeting

 

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Open Letter to the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Hon. Gordon Burton

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The Beach and Coastal Vending Bill 2021 Needs to PROTECT Vendors

 

#TurksandCaicos, November 30, 2021 – Mr. Speaker, I know that you will hear from members of the House of Assembly on Tuesday regarding the Beach and Coastal Vending Bill 2021 and I am expecting for contributions by the various Members to capture the variety of concerns about this proposed legislation.

However, as I am in direct contact with many of the vendors, including those situated at the Chalk Sound located, Sapodilla Beach, I wanted to ensure their specific concerns were brought to your attention and exposed to the general public via this Open Letter.

The Bill proposes a laundry list of regulations which the government believes will protect the environment and users of our beaches.  But, Mr. Speaker, I have noticed that missing is a clause or section specifically devoted to the protection of the licensees, the Vendors.

We have witnessed over the years the abusive behavior and language from home owners who reside on our coastal areas.  These home owners, very often, tend to wield insults and threats which not only prove humiliating for our people who are licensed for operation in their own country but which create potentially dangerous hostility.  Their unwarranted and unfounded complaints often lead to even greater challenges for Turks and Caicos Islanders operating businesses on the beach.

Mr. Speaker, while the proposed Commission will take complaints and concerns from the vendors they license and the Bill says this Commission has the power to revoke licenses, there needs to be, in the law, something spelled out for the over-reaching harassment by property owners set-up or situated near the Vendors.

I also take exception with the view that removal of Vendors from the beach will not hurt their earnings.  It is pure fallacy, and it is beyond my comprehension that our government could even believe it to be remotely true.

The Premier and Minister of Tourism have both said they will ensure there is marketing of these new sites for the Vendors, who will be shifted from directly on the beach in Chalk Sound to a facility across the street.  It is also said to be a temporary situation.

Again, what recourse is there for Vendors if these promises go unfulfilled. Is it not true, Mr. Speaker, that the full burden of financial loss will then be upon the Vendors?

Mr. Speaker not only will guests rarely make any effort to cross the street to spend money with the Vendors, but the danger of that curve has already proven disastrous and is a major hazard.

Mr. Speaker, The Bill must require advertisement of all vendor locations around the country.  The cost of this marketing should be borne by the Turks and Caicos Islands government, alone.

Mr. Speaker, my suggestion is the type of marketing or advertising should be itemized in the Regulations which will accompany the Bill.  Mr. Speaker, the stipulation for government to promote these business sites could be partnered with the training which is required/offered to the Vendors.

I reiterate Mr. Speaker, the Vendors need better protections within this proposal.

We want to know how long is temporary, in the case of Sapodilla Beach Vendors.  The PNP Government Administration must set out a time line, because we are certain that during this displacement, Vendors will be losing a lot of earnings.

Perhaps a stimulus can be offered in the interim.

We want to see included protection from misguided and mean-spirited neighbours of our beach and coastal areas who complain and complicate operations for Turks and Caicos Islanders in the beach vending business.

We want to see compulsory marketing, advertising and/or promotions for the vendor markets in the Beach and Coastal Vending Bill.

And Mr. Speaker, while I have yours and the public’s attention, I believe it is prudent to establish CCTV systems at every vendor site.  Again, this not only provides a level of security from crime but it enables the Committee to have footage in the event they need visuals to objectively evaluate any disputes.

I wish you well in managing the debate on November 30, Mr. Speaker.

May God bless the Honourable House of Assembly of our Turks and Caicos Islands.

 

Robert Been,

PDM Deputy Party Leader

 

 

 

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Assurances from Premier & Tourism Minister ahead of Beach Vendors Bill DEBATE  

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, November 30, 2021 – “I want to be clear from the outset; this Bill is in no way going to impact any family or individual who wants to enjoy the beaches of Turks and Caicos.” This was Premier Washington Misick’s response to public outcry surrounding the new Beach and Coastal Vending Bill.

The Bill, laid in Parliament last Monday, had several sections of concern to TCI Islanders and Premier Misick sought to explain in an exclusive interview with Magnetic Media.

He first addressed the issue of permits for special events on the beach assuring islanders they were not being ousted, saying.

“This Bill is in no way to restrict anyone from their public enjoyment of the beach…A special event has nothing to do with a family who wants to have a picnic on the beach…Once the regulations are public you will see that.”

He had a reminder for islanders though.

“The beach is a public good and it has to be regulated. If everyone is allowed to do what they want on the beach then nobody gets to enjoy the beach.”

In response to claims that the Bill was a result of Carnival Cruise’s imminent arrival the Premier stressed that the Bill was to protect TCI islanders and resources.

Tourism Minister Connolly also impressed the importance of the Bill, reminding TCI Islanders that tourism was a major source of income and that by protecting that industry that everyone would benefit, she said.

“This Bill is here to protect our people and to protect our beaches. Tourism is our greatest asset, we have to protect it.”

In defense of the policy Missick cited issues that had been reported saying that though the public might not be aware, they got reports about incidents of ‘vagrancy and miscreant behavior’ often.

“We’re getting reports of people walking beaches waking people from their naps and trying to sell them stuff… Even worse we are getting reports from the cruise center in Grand Turk that there have been incidents of people selling drugs, alcohol and prostitution and we can’t have that… So of course it has to do with protecting the tourism industry, but all TCI islanders benefit from tourism, you can’t disconnect one from the other.”

In response to the rearranging of vendors from their current positions Minister Connolly said that the new facilities were an ‘upgrade’ and there were provisions in place for every licensed vendor on Providenciales and Grand Turk.

Misick assured islanders that tourist traffic and revenue would not decrease in the new locations.

“When there is a cluster of businesses that are similar or ancillary to each other they end up feeding each other so this enhances people’s ability.”

Connolly also promised that the actual process of getting licensed and getting a space in these areas will be smooth.

“We are making it very easy for our people, you fill in your application…and we make sure that it is processed expeditiously.”

The licensing body which will have the power to approve, revoke and suspend licenses will comprise one individual each from the Police force, DECR, Planning industry, Marine office and Revenue Department. There was no mention of a representative from the Vending community.

The Bill mentioned that there will be a specific number of vendors in designated zones. When asked whether the number that was quoted would be sufficient for demand the Premier said.

“There will always be scarcity… but the whole thing is to have things properly organized and opportunities for people who bring different skills and products.” He also mentioned that they were working on creating even more spaces for vendors.

The Premier said that this Bill would put a stop to vendors having others ‘fronting’ for them. He dismissed any concern that the application process would be held up by any conflicts of interest or ‘family ties’ expressing complete confidence in the TCI auditing system.

The enforcement of these regulations would be carried out by the new Beach Patrol which would be trained and assisted by the police force and have power of arrest. The Tourism minister dismissed staffing concerns saying that they were in the process of training and shortlisting candidates.

The Beach and Coastal Vending Bill 2021 will enter debate stages on Tuesday, (November 30) the Premier invited islanders to attend and listen in for themselves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Minister Moxey says partnerships for development will help get Grand Bahama going again

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#TheBahamas, November 27, 2021 – One means by which Minister for Grand Bahama, Hon. Ginger Moxey plans to utilize every resource at her disposal to get things moving for Grand Bahama again, is to utilize partnerships for development.

“Success with these partnerships on our island are embedded in collaborative efforts between the ministry of Grand Bahama, other government ministries, the Grand Bahama Port Authority, the Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce, Hutchinson Whampoa Holdings Ltd., industry stakeholders and the business community at large,” explained Minister Moxey.

“We must unite and work together to build alliances for success with the ultimate goal of ensuring that Grand Bahama Island excels.  We are all in this together.”

The Minister’s remarks came during her keynote address at the ninth annual Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce’s Business Excellence Awards Luncheon, which was held on Wednesday, November 24th, 2021 at Pelican Bay resort. The event is held to honor Grand Bahamian business owners for their commitment, achievements and dedication to the development of the second city.

Minister Moxey pointed out that this year’s event, under the theme, celebration of excellence, acknowledges and highlights businesses on Grand Bahama that have stayed the course. She added that this kind of recognition is a beacon of hope for local business owners who have faced and overcame some of the most challenging circumstances ever encountered within the island’s history.

“On November first during my contribution on the bill to thank the Governor General for his Speech from the Throne, I pledged to the nation that I would do the people’s business and utilize every resource at my disposal, to get the job done for Grand Bahama,” said Minister Moxey.

“As a Grand Bahamian and business owner, I can attest to the challenges we have faced over the past decade. The devastation of Hurricane Dorian in 2019, which was closely followed by the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. It further strained our already fragile economy. Today’s administration is also well aware of the challenges that Grand Bahama has faced over the past decade. Nevertheless, we will deliver on our commitment to recover, rebuild and revolutionize our island, our economy and usher our people into the new day.

“I would like to thank all of the businesses represented today, that have kept their doors opened and our people employed. To all of the Business Excellence Award nominees, I congratulate you. Remain encouraged and know that your efforts have not gone unnoticed.

“To the Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce, thank you for being a staple in the business community and for celebrating excellence for the past nine years. Welcome back business excellence awards.”

 

By Andrew Coakley

Photo Caption: Minister for Grand Bahama, Ginger Moxey (right), along with President of the Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce, Greg Laroda presents Mrs. Leslie Baptista, of Paint Fair, with the President’s Award, during the ninth annual GB Chamber of Commerce’s Business Excellence Awards Luncheon, which was held on Wednesday, November 24th, 2021 at Pelican Bay resort.

(BIS Photo/Andrew Miller)

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