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Press Statement from Former Premier – Dr. The Hon. Rufus Ewing

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#TurksandCaicos, December 15, 2017 – Providenciales – Three months after the passage of the major Hurricanes Irma and Maria, Former Premier Dr. The Hon. Rufus Ewing states:

“I cannot understand why we have to wait so long for our children to get into permanent classrooms and public officers to get back to Grand Turk or into their healthy workplaces while the Government takes the bureaucratic route of first going to the House of Assembly for a Supplementary budget when a contingency warrant using the Excess Expenditure provision of the Constitution could have been approved the day after the hurricane on a case by case assessment basis.”

He further stated:

“…the Government is either weak, incompetent or is ignorant of the authority and power that they have legally and constitutionally.”

Read full article below.

It has now been over 90 days since the passage of the two devastating hurricanes Irma and Maria, and while the Turks and Caicos Islands is open for business in our main economic sector of tourism mainly on the Island of Providenciales, the rest of the Turks and Caicos Islands remains unrecovered, both in the public sector and private sector.

The pace of recovery in these islands is unacceptably slow as measured by the return to normalcy of essential and public services particularly in the harder hit islands of our capital Grand Turk and the islands of South Caicos and Salt Cay.   Also unacceptably slow is the slow pace at which our residents are struggling to return to normalcy as they seek shelter with a water proof roof over their heads.

What could have or should have been done speed up the recovery process?   Much more could have been done to allow our people to face the Christmas with hope and a peace of mind, but I would only focus on one action at this time.

I know all too well that within the framework of the Turks and Caicos Constitution, executive action from cabinet is derived from the consensus of all members of cabinet both elected and non-elected.   But despite these actions requiring the approval of the Governor, His Excellency must approve unless there is violation of governance principles or the matter is one which is the absolute responsibility of the Governor such as internal security, defense, foreign affairs and the public service.

The execution of policies with financial implications that fall outside of the absolute responsibility of the Governor is the prerogative of the elected government. Hence the hands of the government are not tied where there is an urgent need to execute policies of public good for which a government was elected.

The exception to this rule was when there was a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) who had powers to veto the decision of cabinet members and prevent expenditure on policies that he thought were not in the best financial interest of the Government.   Several clear examples of his disregard for the best interest and social good of our people can be referenced during his tenure in office.   But there is no more CFO! And there no longer exists a need for hands to be tied where our duly elected government has the emergent need to execute policies such as returning to normalcy essential and public services after two devastating hurricanes.   If such is the case, then the Government is either weak, incompetent or is ignorant of the authority and power that they have legally and constitutionally.

In fact, the access to the contingency fund (emergency fund) for the purpose of recovery of the islands, in particular essential and public services rests solely in the hands of the Minister of Finance and not even Cabinet.   Section 118 (1) of the Turks and Caicos Constitution and Section 7 of the Public Finance Management states “The Minister (Finance), if he or she is satisfied that there is an urgent and unforeseen need for expenditure for which no provision has been made by an Appropriation Ordinance or a Supplementary Appropriation Ordinance may, by a Contingencies Warrant under his or her hand and in anticipation of the grant of an appropriation by the Legislature, authorize an advance from the Consolidated Fund to meet that need and shall forthwith report his or her action to the Cabinet.” Even though section 118 (2) of the Constitution requires the Minister to obtain the approval of the Governor, this provision is rarely invoked and if it was and refused, the matter should be brought to cabinet.

Therefore, the question to be asked is

  • Whether the emergency repairs to schools, clinics, government offices and clean up programs to remove hazards and public health threats among others are truly considered by this government to be an emergency?

If they are considered emergency, then a Contingency Warrant should have been issued to access funds from the Consolidated Fund to expedite recovery of these islands without having to obtain cabinet approval or much less await a sitting of the House of Assembly.

If the argument why this was not done was that the Governor refused the approval of the warrant by the Minister of Finance, then this matter should have been brought before Cabinet for consensus and approval.

If the argument was that an insufficient amount was budgeted in the Contingency Fund and a supplementary budget is necessary, then again, this argument does not hold water as Section 117 of the Constitution allows for Excess Expenditure.   This is expenditure above and beyond what was budgeted.

Given all of these provisions in the Constitution and the Public Finance Management Ordinance to effect policies with financial implications, I am still baffled as to why damaged government schools, clinics and offices where children and civil servants are displaced have not been touched and why major cleanup of hazardous debris posing public health threats have not been cleaned up.   I cannot understand why we have to wait so long for our children to get into permanent classrooms and public officers to get back to Grand Turk or into their healthy workplaces while the Government takes the bureaucratic route of first going to the House of Assembly for a Supplementary Warrant when a contingency warrant using the Excess Expenditure provision of the Constitution could have been approved the day after the hurricane on a case by case assessment basis.    

Is the inaction due to a lack of vision, or lack of ability, a slow learning curve, lack of assertiveness, lack of money or lack of care and concern?   As Turks and Caicos Islanders I am sure we all care about the well-being of our people, because generally that’s who we are, a caring people, so it must be because of all of the other reasons.   But the inaction cannot be due to lack of money, because one year ago the Government was in a position of fiscal surplus.   If there is no longer a fiscal surplus then where has all the money gone?   Is it that there was wasted expenditure?   But on what?  Travel?  Nothing was done to show where the money went.  Has revenue dropped significantly due to poor fiscal management and failure to find new revenue streams or expand existing revenue streams?  Or was it the hurricanes? Historical budgets will show that the majority of government revenue comes in the tourism months November- July/August.   So a hurricane occurring in September would impact the government revenue for that month and going forward but not immediately erode months and years of surplus.  So the questions are where has the money gone?   And why is there much inaction in the recovery of these islands especially Grand Turk, Salt Cay and South Caicos?

Enough excuses, enough is enough! We need real answers and more importantly we need real action!

Press Release: Dr. The Hon. Rufus W. Ewing

 

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Caribbean News

DIGICEL+ GIVES CUSTOMERS THE GIFT OF MORE SPEED THIS CHRISTMAS

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The fastest internet just got even faster…for the same great price

 

Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands – 1st, December 2021 –  Digicel+ is gifting The Turks and Caicos Islands faster home fibre speeds for Christmas, and beyond. Fulfilling the brand promise of Simply More (more power, more speed and more reliability), customers will now benefit from up to 2x faster download speeds on broadband and bundle plans.

This is all about a better experience for customers, and not about the cost. This free upgrade gives Digicel+ customers an even better home fibre internet experience, for anyone, on any device. And as part and parcel of the digital lifestyle, Digicel+ is the gateway to a Smart Life, which means that state-of-the-art Smart Solutions like Smart Homes and Smart Security are no longer just concepts, but a powerful reality.

Addison Stoddard CEO of Digicel TCI said, “This Christmas, we’re excited to reward customers with a super slick, superfast, super reliable home fibre experience, underpinned by service delivery that is, of course, second to none. Our entry-level plans are the fastest on the island and this puts us head and shoulders above any other internet offering in the country.”

The upgraded packages now start with download speeds of 50Mbps, and go up to 300Mbps for the speed demons and heavy gamers out there. This allows the Turks and Caicos Islands to connect to the global knowledge economy, have amazing entertainment options, and power their personal and professional experiences, thanks to these new superfast internet speeds.

Addison Stoddard continued, “It’s more of what our customers expect; more of what they want and it’s another way that we can be a part of our customers’ digital lives – at home, on the go, anywhere and everywhere. Simply put, Digicel+ is simply more.”

Over the past two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has solidified the importance of having a steady, powerful and reliable home internet connection, mainly due to many schools going online and parents working remotely. Now, with even faster internet speeds, customers get the best home fibre experience every time. This provides opportunities for MORE working, MORE schooling, MORE gaming, and MORE streaming with Digicel+.

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Bahamas News

Guys, Have 2 Minutes? Here’s How to Check Yourself for Testicular Cancer

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Testicular cancer is a rare form of cancer for men in The Bahamas.  It is highly curable — if you know it’s there!

 

November 30, 2021 – Men…how often do you perform a self-exam to check yourselves for testicular cancer?

While it’s a relatively rare form of cancer, young men aren’t exempt – in fact, testicular cancer occurs most often in young and middle-aged men. The good news is, it can usually be treated successfully.

The most common symptom of testicular cancer is a lump on your testicle. But that’s not the only sign of this disease.

Men who have testicular cancer may experience several different kinds of symptoms, says oncologist Timothy Gilligan, MD, a Medical Oncologist at Cleveland Clinic who specializes in treating testicular cancer.

Testicular cancer most frequently strikes men younger than age 44, and is the most commonly diagnosed cancer for men ages 15 to 34. It is almost always curable if found early, Dr. Gilligan says, and it is usually curable even when at a later stage. So it’s important to know signs and symptoms.

Here, Dr. Gilligan says, are five possible signs of testicular cancer you might not know about:

5 Testicular Cancer Symptoms That Aren’t a Lump  – Know what to look for and catch it early

  1. A feeling of heaviness or pressure in your scrotum.
  2. Change in testicle size or firmness.Certain types of testicular tumors can reduce testosterone or increase estrogen in the body, which can result in a change in testicle size or firmness.
  3. Swollen legs.When a tumor spreads to the lymph node, it can constrict blood flow in the veins and result in a blood clot. The clots often occur in the legs, which causes them to swell. You might even experience blood clot symptoms such as pain and difficulty breathing.
  4. Lower back pain and shortness of breath.These are symptoms of advanced testicular cancer, meaning the cancer has spread to lymph nodes behind your stomach. Shortness of breath also may signal that the cancer has spread to your lungs, which may make it harder for air to move in and out.
  5. Breast growth or tenderness.In rare cases, hormone changes also can cause breast tenderness or growth of breast tissue. Some tumors can secrete high levels of a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), which stimulates breast development.

If you experience any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor right away, Dr. Gilligan says. If your physician diagnoses you with epididymitis or orchitis and the symptoms do not resolve quickly with antibiotics, request an ultrasound to evaluate for a testicular tumor.

“While up to 95 percent of men with testicular cancer are cured, it’s important to get care quickly if you’re experiencing symptoms because testicular cancers usually grow fast,” Dr. Gilligan says. “If there is disease, the earlier it is treated, the greater than chance for success.”

 

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PDM Deputy Leader lends to Beach Vending Bill debate from outside Parliament

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, November 30, 2021 – The Opposition party says the new Beach and Coastal Vending bill does not provide adequate protection for TCI vendors.

This came from Deputy Leader of the PDM Robert Been, in an open letter to the Speaker of the House of Assembly earlier today.

The Deputy Leader who claimed to be in direct contact with vendors in Sapodilla say while there are several provisions for penalties against the vendors in the bill it does not ‘adequately address the protection of vendors rights.’

The PDM referenced incidents of abuse from homeowners against vendors and said, “These homeowners, very often, insult and threaten vendors which is humiliating…There needs to be, in the law, something that clearly penalizes any overreaching harassment by property owners…situated near vendors.”

The Opposition deputy leader also said the Premier’s claim that the reshuffle of vendors will not affect their earnings was ‘misleading’ and ‘held no truth.’ They added that the section of roadway cited for the relocation was a known hazard and tourists would likely not frequent the area.

The PDM had several other requests to make the bill a more viable one for vendors. Been insisted that the government produce a timeline for the temporary relocation and allocate funds for a stimulus in case of loss of earnings on the vendors’ part. They also requested to see compulsory marketing for the vendor markets and questioned the lack of any clear avenue for redress should the government default on its promises.

Finally the PDM Deputy Leader called for CCTV cameras to be installed at every vendor site for both the protection of vendors and their wares and objectivity in conflict resolution.

The office of the Premier has not yet responded to the letter. The bill will be debated in the House today (November 30).

 

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