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Opposition Leader responds to Throne Speech  11 days later; says PDM Govt plan puts TCI in ‘deep doo doo’

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Hon. C. Washington Misick, Leader of PNP on Opening of Parliament June 18

#GrandTurk, Turks and Caicos Islands – July 3, 2018 – The Leader of the Opposition business in the Turks and Caicos House of Assembly, nearly two weeks after the official Opening of Parliament, has finally delivered his response to the Speech from the Throne which was since Monday June 18 delivered by the Governor on behalf of the PDM Administration.   

Hon. Washington Misick on Friday June 29 fired back with an over one hour long response encompassing a number of charges against the government administration, including an agenda change on June 18 which broke tradition and delayed his response to the Throne Speech.

“I believe it is incumbent upon us as honourable people to follow tradition to the extent that it doesn’t usurp the rights of anyone.  And so, Mr. Speaker In most parliament the State Opening features the Speech from the Throne in the morning, and in the afternoon the House resumes and responds with the address in reply debate.  In the Turks and Caicos, it has been the tradition for the Leader of the Opposition to reply immediately and I was prepared to do so – prepared or not.  While the Constitution Mr. Speaker, gives the Premier the authority as the Leader of Government business the right to alter the Order Paper it is against the spirit of the Constitution or the Standing Order to lightly dispense with  long established parliamentary practice for no apparent good reason.”

Just before the comment, there was a verbal wrangle over what was said and what was meant in a jab given by Premier Sharlene Robinson on House Opening day, which the Opposition Leader said gave an impression that she was treated similarly when Rufus Ewing was country leader.  Misick denied that ever being the case.

Opposition Leader Washington Misick believes there was no legitimate reason for him being denied his response to the Throne Speech on the same day as it was given.  The PNP Leader also surmised that the PDM Government has not presented a recovery budget, as touted and has no legislative agenda.

The fifth All Island Member announced that the PNP Opposition would support a change, which makes it permanently mandatory for the response from the Opposition Leader to the Speech from the Throne be made on the same day.

“Mr. Speaker it is your duty to protect the right of the minority and history will judge your speakership largely based on society perception of fairness in doing this… it would be acceptable to this side of the House, going forward, and I suggest Mr. Speaker, that the House establish the practice that the reply to the Throne Speech be made in the afternoon of the day that the Speech is delivered.”

Misick said his suggested agenda gives any Opposition Leader the time required to prepare a fact-based rebuttal to the Speech from the Throne.

“Having read the Throne Speech and having glanced quickly over the estimates of expenditure and revenue, the Budget; I would contend that contrary to pronouncements in the Throne Speech and also the pronouncements in the Budget Booklet itself…  I contend that this is not a recovery budget whatsoever…”

Hon Washington Misick, in the midst of a humourous analogy, called the plans of the sitting Government, empty.

“This budget is quite vacuous, the Speech from the Throne is vacuous…” the LOO ended his opening remarks with the punchline of the joke, “Mr. Speaker the future, if this (Budget and Throne Speech) is what we have to depend on, is in deep do-do.”

Specifically, the Opposition Leader cited that the Throne Speech and the Budget Estimates show inconsistencies and makes ‘bogus claims’.

“Regrettably there is little that is specific, measurable or time bound but worst of all Mr. Speaker, a review of the Estimates quickly reveal the lack of financial provisions for most of the vague promises spoken to in the Speech from the Throne.”

Contributions on the Throne Speech continued into Friday.

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COVID Works programme launched by Ministry of Physical Planning & Infrastructure Development

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#TurksandCaicos, September 21, 2021 – The Minister of Physical Planning and Infrastructure Development, the Honourable Akierra Mary Deanne Missick and the Physical Planning & Infrastructure Development team are pleased to announce the launch of the COVID WORKS Programme, that went live on September 1, 2021.

The Programme seeks to support many who have lost jobs and livelihoods, while providing labour intensive work for economic exchange opportunities for persons to be engaged.

Works are set out in three (3) levels and comprise a variety of categories example, cleaning, road works, demolition and general construction to name a few.

Level 1 – value $1,500 – $9,999

Level 2 – value $10,000 – $39,999

Level 3 – value $40,000 – $70,000

Turks and Caicos Islanders with valid business licenses are also being encouraged to submit proposals to the Public Works Department for consideration for works throughout the islands. 

Commenting on the launch of the programme, Hon. Missick said, “We are very much mindful of the impact that restrictions introduced by Government in an effort to mitigate the spread of Covid-19, has had on the islands, many continue to experience financial hardship. Whilst, the hospitality and construction sectors in Providenciales have rebounded well, as an Administration, we cannot rest knowing that other industries are still limping along.

As a result, during the remainder of this financial year, the Turks & Caicos Islands Government has now launched the COVID Works Programme to provide an opportunity for Petty and Small Contractors to assist the Government in the enhancement of our communities, through programmed works, to the benefit of all of us as residents”.

The Minister went on to note, “This Programme is set to the tune of US$5,000,000.00, and works will be rolled out across the Islands in batches, as we have to ensure that we do not go beyond the allotted expenditure and that financial oversight and transparency are maintained.”

The initial batch of works for South Caicos, which comprised the following, was returned and evaluated on Monday, September 13, 2021 and included:

South Caicos 

Demolition- Queen’s Shed

Demolition- Distribution Concrete Tank

Demolition- Old Clinic Building

Demolition- DECR Building

Demolition- Library Building

Repair of Water Cistern

Works for Grand Turk included:

Grand Turk 

Demolition- Blood Bank Building

Demolition- Geriatric Ward Building

Demolition- Kitchen Building

Demolition- X-ray Building

All returning bids must be sent to the COVID Works email at tcigworks@gov.tc

Kindly note that as of Monday, September 20, 2021, the following works are planned to be released:

Grand Turk: 

Beach Cleaning (Eastern portion of Grand Turk)

Street Cleaning (All areas)

Providenciales:

Beach cleaning (Areas of Shore Club and Five Cays)

Street Cleaning (All areas)

A number of other works for Middle & North Caicos, as well as Salt Cay will be released shortly. This is a six month program that will spread throughout the TCI and we encourage persons to continue to register via tcigworks@gov.tc or the local Public Works Department and District Commissioners’ offices, to be eligible for this opportunity.

These works will continue on a monthly basis and the programme will come to an end in March 2022.

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Grandstanding at best – Hon. Jameka Williams

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#TurksandCaicos, September 21, 2021 – Response to Mr. Robert Been Jr. – People’s Democratic Movement All Island Candidate 2016 and 2021 “Where is the Wo’k you promised PNP?”

Like some of you, I have the opportunity to read the statements that has been published by Mr. Robert Been asking the government where is the work. I can only describe this as a classic case of grandstanding. The issues highlighted by Mr. Been are areas of concern in our country, however these issues did not begin yesterday nor did they became a concern seven months ago. I’d like to remind Mr. Been that these same concerns were there during his former governing party the PDM. The previous government did nothing to address these concerns in their four year tenure. Where was your voice then Mr. Been? As a matter of fact, where was your voice the four years prior?

As it relates to education, the issues with spaces in Schools has been heightened as a lot of families can not afford the cost of private institutions since the pandemic, so there is now a high demand for seats in the public schools. Our government is working closely with the private Institutions with a subsidy program to address those needs. Again, this issue existed under the former government before the pandemic but they made no attempt to address it. In addition under your former administration, schools were closed for over one year with no plan on sight for its reopening. Our children have regressed and many repeating to catch up on the year lost.

On September 1, 2021 our government announced the new protocols and measures as it relates to Covid 19. Yes, there are concerns being expressed by the citizens and business owners as it relates to the impact of those decisions. I would like to inform you to that these decisions were not made alone. Stakeholders were engaged in these conversations and I have also accompanied the Hon. Jamel Robinson to sit downs with various groups of business owners to provide feedback, listen and take recommendations.

Countries around the world are imposing stiffer penalties and measures to help with the control of Covid 19 virus and the TCI is no different. We’ve seen reports published of cancellations that we believe are flawed to bully the government into reversing the decisions made. Our government has a responsibility to protect life and livelihood. There are decisions that are sometimes tough to make but it is our responsibility to make them no matter how unpopular. In time, the people of this country will see the benefit of those decisions concerning what’s happening around the world in even more developed countries as it relates to COVID-19.

Mr. Been, I would like for you to know that the island of Grand Turk was in a state of devastation since the storm of 2017 under the tenure of your government. There was an outcry for years by its residents. The cruise industry is at a standstill. However, I’d like to inform you that during our budget debates this current government has passes 8.3 million dollars for all the islands with 3 million ring fenced for Grand Turk alone in works and cash grant injections. The Ministry of Planning and Infrastructure Development has as of September 1, 2021 rolled out its contract program for works around the islands particularly in the Nation’s Capital.

Since the closer of the cruise sector in Grand Turk, the former administration had little to no engagement with Carnival partners on a plan to jump start that industry. It is extremely commendable that our government took the initiative to host a town hall meeting with all persons involved in the cruise industry in June 2021. Additional the Premier is in constant dialogue with Carnival Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean has now expressed an internet in having Grand Turk as one of their destinations.

Mr. Been, it is widely rumored that you may have an interest in Leadership of the PDM during the next convention. You are a personal friend of mine and I wish you well on your endeavors as this is a noble profession. However, my advice to you would be to offer solution based arguments so that the electorate sees your strength and potential instead of pointing fingers and grandstanding. Admittedly you mentioned that the elections are over. But are they really for you? As a government we do not have all the answers but I assure you that the decisions made are in the best interest of all of us including you. Hold on, better days are ahead.

 

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Canadians Fly South to Turks & Caicos!

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#TurksandCaicos, September 21, 2021  – Air Canada is back to the Turks and Caicos Islands with direct flights from Toronto to the Providenciales International Airport (PLS) and when the airline returned on Sunday September 12, it came nearly full with 169 passengers aboard.

Floyd Ingham, Acting CEO of the TCI Airports Authority, confirmed that Air Canada brought a Boeing 737-Max for the flight which will be weekly.  The aircraft has a capacity of 180 and actually left the PLS with 65 passengers.

Air Canada had been missing from the commercial airline offering for nearly a year due to the impact of coronavirus on its home base.  West Jet, also a Canadian airline, has not yet return to the PLS, but is proposing a November 7th resumption of flights, also from Toronto.

Canadian air carriers had discontinued flights to most sunny weather destinations back in January when cases there spiked to deadly levels.

On September 9, airlines were clear to fly.

Canada requires returning residents to present a 3-day old negative PCR test for re-entry, requires visitors to be fully vaccinated and currently has nearly 69 per cent vaccination rate across its provinces.

As a side bar, South West Airlines, which travels to TCI out of Ft Lauderdale is still on schedule for a return on October 7th confirmed Mr. Ingham who also confirmed that frequency of Air Canada service will ramp up on October 1st, with three flights per week planned.

 

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