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TCI Premier blasts Opposition side for “slop” information, sets it straight in HOA

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Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos – February 7, 2018 – The Turks and Caicos Parliament passed the Budget Supplementary restructuring of funds which will allow for, among other things, a national clean up to begin in the aftermath of September 2017’s Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

The plan as proposed by the Ministry of Finance to ‘build back better’ was counted as a sensible one in the end by House of Assembly Members between Monday and Tuesday, but the “untruths” which did make it to debate were not left unaddressed by the country’s Premier and Finance Minister, Hon Sharlene Robinson.

“Mr. Speaker, I sincerely believe that most of us in this honourable House really do genuinely want to see good for this country and, Mr. Speaker, I also do believe that some of us are not bright enough, but dark and are wishing that we fail as a Government, not recognizing that if we fail as government we all fail.

The Premier, in her wrapping up statement on the debate of the supplementary compared the situation to passengers on a plane hoping for the pilot to crash that plane; a situation which she reminded is tragic for both passengers and pilot.

“You can’t be serious coming into the House of Assembly, spewing doom and gloom and pretty much trying to embarrass the country… and wish publicly that this government fails in leading the country in which you are a part of.  Mr. Speaker, I find myself over and over drawing reference to some of us who are just determined to use ignorance of facts and laws, believing unlearned and reckless statements are scoring big, when in fact once it is exposed, persons know that they cannot listen to that individual.”

In a tone of voice which exposed just how incensed the Premier is by these repeated instances of ‘purportedly’ incorrect politically driven comments, Hon Robinson again offered some familiar advice.

“…for persons who sit in this honourable house to research, to read, to understand so that they can ably contribute to matters in this House.  Mr. Speaker, like the Deputy Speaker, I get the politics of debate and I do understand the role of the Opposition as a watch dog, but Mr. Speaker what this Opposition continues to fail to do is to offer alternative remedies and recommendations.  But what they have got down pat, Mr. Speaker is the offering of alternative facts.”

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With a reference to the presentation made by the Deputy Premier on the difficulty of cutting and re-ordering the budget and acknowledging dissatisfaction expressed by the Opposition PNP on what was selected as the higher priority areas for spending, the Premier and Finance Minister admitted that her team regretted the exercise of slicing up an already approved and the country’s largest ever budget.

“The contributions made yesterday made it seem as if we are happy to be at this place to have to restructure our budget based on reduced revenues.  Mr. Speaker this is a setback for my Government and our capital program and I must correct several statements up front.”

The Premier said “it is absolutely untrue” that the emergency powers enacted post the hurricanes allowed the Governor and Government to spend liberally.  Hon Sharlene Robinson said the passed budget must be honoured and the procurement process is an unshakable standard in the fiscal operation of TCIG.

“There could be no spending for new capital projects unless and until the changes were made in this (House of Assembly) type setting.”

Premier Robinson counted the untruths and misinformation as missed opportunities by the Leader of the Opposition and the Opposition’s Appointed Member – in particular – to educate the public on how TCIG actually works.  The Finance Team, pointed out Hon Robinson, is the same one which led the now Opposition Leader when he served as the Minister of the same portfolio.

“In fact, Mr. Leader of the Opposition (who is absent) much of the delay Mr. Speaker was to give effect to the decision made to get input from accounting officers and other government functionaries…”

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Clarity too came about the report that the Premier and Team Finance had sent the Budget Supplementary to the United Kingdom the day before Christmas, expecting to have it returned by Boxing Day, 2017.

“Absolute nonsense, there are people in the Ministry of Finance that have been dealing with the UK for some time now, and I have no reason to believe that they acted in anything other than the sincerest efforts.”

By lunchtime Tuesday, the wrap-up by the Premier was completed, sending the ‘passed’ Budget Supplementary to the Committee of Supply (of the House of Assembly) for further and final scrutiny.

 

#sharlenerobinson  #tcihouseofassembly  #hurricaneirma  #hurricanemaria

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Caribbean News

Barbados bestows Humanitarian Award on PAHO director Dr. Carissa Etienne 

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By Shanieka Smith

Staff Writer

 

#Barbados, November 25, 2022 – The newest recipient of Barbados’ Humanitarian Award is outgoing Pan American Health Organization Director, Dr Carissa Etienne.  The government of Barbados grants this award to frontline workers who were instrumental during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Upon receiving the award, Dr. Etienne expressed her gratitude for the recognition, noting, however, that she was more grateful for the opportunity to have served on the island. She also praised Prime Minister, Mia Mottley for her diligence in leading the country and regional involvement during the pandemic.

Humanitarian medals were also given to Frontline workers who risked their own safety to ensure the needs of the public were met. Those who held supporting roles on the frontline received humanitarian lapel pins, and those who made generous donations were given humanitarian plaques.

Dr. Etienne highlighted one major lesson from the pandemic, “we are only safe when the weakest among us is also safe”.

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Bahamas News

Bahamas and Turks & Caicos Immigration Ministers make appearance on TCI Radio Talk Show

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TheBahamas, November 25, 2022 – “We have a humanitarian concern of course but we can only absorb so much” was how Fred Mitchell, Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Public Service in The Bahamas addressed the issue of the UN constantly nudging Caribbean countries about the deportation of migrants and recommending that it not be done.

He was speaking Thursday November 24 with Cheryl and Zhavargo on First Edition which airs on RTC FM.

While acknowledging that the UN offices likely ‘have to do what they do’ Minister Mitchell  explained that the current irregular migrants trying to get into the Bahamas did not fit the bill of ‘refugees’ as defined by the UN.

“We have a treaty obligation that says that if people have a fear of persecution in their home country that we have an obligation to take them in as asylum seekers. The people who come through on these boats from the south of us are not asylum seekers. They are afraid of poverty and that’s a difficult issue but in a legal sense we’re not obligated to embrace people on that basis.”

He cited a study that had found, on any given day there were around 7,000 illegal migrants in The Bahamas trying to get to the US maintaining that his chain of islands had to take a stand on the issue.  The Foreign Affairs minister acknowledged that  TCI was in an identical situation, citing also the the cultural effects of irregular migration.

“There is a cleavage which has developed in our own society over this; people are very concerned that we could lose our identity if we do not get on top of it.”

Earlier this year Arlington “new sheriff in town” Musgrove, Minister of Immigration and Border Services in the Turks and Caicos had described statements calling on surrounding countries to do more to assist persons fleeing Haiti as “reckless and misguided.”

“Haiti has a population of 11.6 million people. How could any small developing state like the Turks and Caicos Islands assist that number of people or even the smallest fraction of them? We have a population of some 47,000 persons, and our health care, education and other social systems remain fragile and could never withstand an influx of refugees. This would be a risk to our very own livelihood,” he had said.

He was interviewed in the same show on Thursday prior to Mitchell and expressed a similar determination to crack down on illegal migration.

“I want to stress this. If we catch anyone harbouring illegals, it could be my mommy, she’s going up. We cannot tolerate this. We’re catching the sloops so my Haitian brothers and sisters should stress to them don’t waste your money we’re sending you back.”

Turks and Caicos, this year passed a law, doubling fines and prison times for individuals harbouring illegal migrants.

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Bahamas News

Former Bahamian Cabinet minister defends record amid ongoing police investigation

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By Shanieka Smith

Staff Writer

 

#TheBahamas, November 25, 2022 – Former Youth, Sports and Culture Minister, Lanisha Rolle is reportedly currently under investigation due to several allegations that came up during her tenure; she however knows nothing of this alleged criminal investigation.

After the minister resigned – unceremoniously –  in February 2021 with little explanation, the ministry was locked down by the Prime Minister for an audit of the National Sports Authority, which fell under her ministry.

Auditor General Terrance Bastin revealed that unauthorised contracts had been issued, some of which were later forwarded to the NSA for payment. Three cheques to contractors were also found, which were paid to individuals and then collected by a senior ministry official.

Despite the allegations, Rolle said she upheld cabinet standards and good governance during her tenure. She added that a minister is not always aware of “everything in a ministry at any given time.”

Rolle said she has not yet been approached by the RBPF regarding the audit findings.  Having served as a member of the Police Force for 11 years herself, Rolle told a crush of media on Wednesday (November 23) that she continues to trust that they will follow the legal process and in due time, the truth of her innocence will be revealed.

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