Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos Islands – February 7, 2018 – Budget cuts to accommodate new spending demands were painful as government projects and departments had to fiscally re-calibrate in order to accommodate important costs associated with repatriation of illegal migrants and the September 2017 hurricanes.
Deputy Premier, Hon Sean Astwood aimed to roll back the curtain on what was happening behind the scenes as the PDM Administration led the re-organization of the already passed 2017-2018 National Budget.
The Government has been heavily criticized as having had a slow response to reconstruction in the aftermath of the ferocious storms. However, the Deputy Premier, also the Border Control Minister disagrees with that characterization.
“We have heard how this country has bounced back to our new normalcy in record time, and we have also heard how many – not just the political opposite – but many have tried to discredit the works of this Government and our direct involvement in making sure that persons who can now sit at home in the comforts of air condition, who can now pick up their mobile cell phones and WhatsApp any derogatory criticism or comment that they may decide to make – I would like for all of them to stop for just one second Mr. Speaker and take a full assessment of what it took to restore such comforts back to them.”
Almost four months to the day of the dismal encounter all of the Turks and Caicos Islands with Hurricane Irma, the Border Control Minister during House of Assembly debate on the changes to the budget, shared his experience while visiting another territory smashed by Irma: Antigua and Barbuda. Barbuda was so badly damaged in the historic hurricane, which measured well above 200 mph wind speeds, that it remains evacuated, completely inhabitable.
“Two weeks ago I went to Antigua and Barbuda for a Summit on 21st Century Governance. Mr. Speaker the island of Barbuda is still a disaster zone. One cannot enter the island without direct government permission because of the current state of that island. Yet we here in the Turks and Caicos, we moan and we groan when the wind don’t blow, when the sun is too hot, when it rains the extra day, when the phone calls drop for a second, Mr. Speaker, we ought to be careful. This supplementary is a response to all that I have just mentioned, it is a response of this Government to set new priorities to deal with the new realities.”
Hon Astwood said the Supplementary, which includes a $600,000 increase to his Ministry for illegal migrant repatriation expenditure is a response to the needs of the country, evidence that the PDM Administration is paying attention and rightly responding to hurricane reconstruction and border protection.
“My same ministry would have gotten cuts in other areas and it hurts… to lose even a dollar we don’t want to lose it but we understand the needs and overall objective of the Ministry of Finance. We know they did not just sit down and arbitrarily decide to get rid of a project, to cut spending by ‘x’ percentage that is not an easy decision to make. I don’t think that the Premier, her PS or anybody, the Budget Director – anyone sits down having a good time in that exercise. So for persons to characterize this as some simple exercise, some ‘willy-nilly’ approach to governance where decisions are being made that affects the lives of our people, Mr. Speaker I don’t understand how anyone could think that’s a trivial matter that somehow the politics of things is more important than the lives of our people…. Mr. Speaker this supplementary is no politics.”
The Deputy further exposed that there were professional rows between ministers, permanent secretaries and departments as the country re-prioritised spending to pay for three exceptional areas of expense, namely: hurricane Irma and Maria clean up, overage in health care abroad costs and the budget busting repatriation of illegal migrants.
“I am sure the Permanent Secretary of Finance was hearing from other PSes that, ‘you can’t so that, you can’t take this from me!’ because that is what Ministers were saying to the Premier, you can’t take this from me, I need that. But collectively Mr. Speaker, with prudent leadership and a focus on where this country is now and where it needs to go we are here today in full support of the premier and her ministry of this Supplementary.”
Deputy Premier Astwood wrapped up his contribution on with a declaration of support of the proposed budgetary changes, making the statement that the PDM Administration is not only working hard, but producing.
“This supplementary is a short term measure to get us through the rest of this financial year and I commend the Premier and her staff for doing a good job.”
The Budget Supplementary passed through the Turks and Caicos House of Assembly on Tuesday February 6, 2018 on the eve of the four month anniversary of Hurricane Irma.
#tcibudgetdebate2018 #hurricaneirma #hurricanemaria #seanastwood
Stunning Space Opened for Turks & Caicos in Nassau
#TheBahamas, December 2, 2023 – The golden ribbon is cut and the Nassau-based Turks & Caicos diaspora office is officially unveiled. The opening ceremony, held at the new office, was attended by high-level delegates including Washington Misick, TCI Premier.
“I’m very proud and very privileged to be able to stand here and speak to you and I would especially like to thank someone who has become a friend in the person of the honorable Prime Minister of The Bahamas,” he said.
Bahamian support was critical in the venture, which sprung up as an answer to the TCIs desperate employment and immigration crisis. With hundreds of vacancies open across the public and private sector, and no one to fill them, the country needed more people but immigration rates were already far too high, posing a risk of disenfranchisement of islanders.
In order to fix both issues the government introduced a migration scheme allowing third-generation islanders with bloodline connections to claim citizenship. They quickly partnered with The Bahamas, one of the closest and the largest parts of its diaspora
Philip Davis, Prime Minister of The Bahamas was on hand while the Premier spoke and also brought remarks. The strong bond between the Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas was emphasized by Davis, as he spoke
“The Turks and Caicos’s islands were part of the Bahamas, they even had a representative in our parliament. We were one nation,” he said.
Bahamian parliament has been supportive of the diaspora plan, which could see TCI-Bahamians migrating away from the Bahamas and into the Turks and Caicos, since its inception in early 2023.
The colors of the Turks and Caicos islands were on proud display in the newly office. Attendees were allowed to tour the building during the Grand Opening on November 28th.
Bright white and modern meeting areas with turquoise accents and TCI logos will be the backdrop for immigration negotiations
Also present at the event, a strong proponent of the grafting in third generation plan, Immigration Minister Arlington Musgrove, and Deputy Governor Anya Williams. The officials have now concretized a journey they started together in February when the idea of a Diaspora office was announced.
The office is the first of its kind established by the Turks and Caicos Islands. It is located on the 2nd Floor of The Bahamas Financial Center, Shirley and Charlotte Streets.
Turks & Caicos Islands Government Opens Diaspora Office in Nassau
#TheBahamas, December 2, 2023 – The Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) Government earlier this week proudly inaugurated the Turks and Caicos Diaspora Office in Nassau, New Providence in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, on Tuesday, November 28th, 2023, in the presence of the Prime Minister, Hon. Philip “Brave” Davis, Premier Hon. Charles Washington Misick and the Deputy Governor of TCI, Her Excellency Anya Williams.
Deputy Governor Her Excellency Anya Williams expressed her sincere appreciation to The Bahamas government for the outstanding collaboration between the two countries, particularly in national security. She asserted, “The opening of this office here in The Bahamas will undoubtedly strengthen our ties with The Bahamas and create opportunities for even greater partnerships that will benefit the Turks and Caicos Islands.”
Premier Misick emphasized that The Bahamas and TCI have always had a strong bond, and the benefits of this relationship have been felt for many years. He declared, “The establishment of a Diaspora of the Turks and Caicos Islands Office in The Bahamas is a crucial initiative that will restore links with the diaspora and open up a productive line of communication to gauge interest in employment opportunities, investment and contributing to the development of the Turks and Caicos Islands.” He further added: “Whether in national security operations, education (many of our students have studied here), health care, or even cultural enthusiasts who partake in junkanoo, we must continue to learn and lean on each other.
Minister of Immigration and Border Force Hon. Arlington Musgrove, who initially led the establishment of the office, stated: “This evening signifies a significant and timely accomplishment in the long history of our two nations. Progressive relationship building is the term I use to describe the establishment of this office today. Beyond a diaspora office, we hope to foster closer ties through business, investment, education, and training to benefit our two countries. I am proud of my government taking this bold, progressive step and proud of the vision of our Premier, who has worked so assiduously to make this evening a reality.”
The Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas brought remarks on the evening and joined the other dignitaries for the ribbon cutting.
The office is a part of the government’s broader diaspora policy, which aims to aid in the creation of programs to capture, connect and harness contributions and connection from the TCI citizens residing outside of the TCI, increase the representation of the number of persons in the population with connection and roots in the TCI and lastly, to provide opportunity and incentive for eligible members of the diaspora to invest and have access to investment and philanthropic opportunities in the TCI.
The office is now open at The Bahamas Financial Centre. Two Liaison Officers have been appointed; Canon Curtis Robinson is based in Freeport, Grand Bahama, and A. Vernay Mills is based in Nassau, New Providence.
CARPHA Remembers Former PAHO Director Emeritus – Dr. Carissa Etienne as a “Tireless Advocate for Regional Solidarity”
Port of Spain, Trinidad. 01 December, 2023: It is with profound sadness and shock that I extend my deepest condolences to the family and friends, people of Dominica, the Caribbean Community and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), on the untimely passing of PAHO Director Emeritus, Dr. Carissa Etienne.
Dr. Etienne’s contributions to public health in the Americas were not only significant, but also transformative. Her leadership and unwavering commitment to our Caribbean Community’s collective pursuit of healthier people, healthier spaces and a healthier Caribbean were a source of inspiration to many. Dr. Etienne was a tireless advocate for The Americas’ regional solidarity, for she knew that was the only way to address the glaring inequalities that exist here.
She was the Director at PAHO for most of the life of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), and under her leadership, CARPHA graduated from the PAHO Biennial Work Programme (BWP) arrangement to having framework agreements.
PAHO funded many of the programmes that are difficult to attract support, like the Caribbean Regulatory System (CRS) and the Medicines Quality Control and Surveillance Department (MQCSD), which are important services for the Region to ensure the quality of medicines. Under Dr. Etienne’s leadership, PAHO also funded non-communicable disease interventions, another area that does not attract large pots of funding, although the number one cause of deaths in the Caribbean region.
During the Pandemic, CARPHA worked with PAHO to fund the downpayments to give 12 Member States access to COVID-19 vaccines through COVAX to the tune of US$2.6 million.
Dr. Etienne will be remembered as a true Caribbean lady who worked with great dedication and focus throughout the horrible COVID-19 period and right up to her last working day at PAHO.
During this challenging time, we pray that God will give strength to Dr. Etienne’s family, friends, and colleagues. CARPHA cherishes the memories of her remarkable contributions to the well-being of individuals and communities throughout the Americas, but especially the Caribbean.
The CARPHA Executive Management and staff stand in solidarity with our Caribbean Community as we mourn the loss of a visionary leader.
Dr. Joy St. John
Executive Director, CARPHA
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