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Reader-friendly Budget published at TCI Gov’t site; explains historic $290m allocation

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Photo by Magnetic Media

#Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands – Thursday July 26, 2018 – The largest budget in the history of the Turks and Caicos Islands was passed on Friday July 13, 2018 and a reader-friendly version is now published online, said Premier and Finance Minister Sharlene Robinson today.

“This year we continued the Citizen’s Guide to the Budget and you can find it at www.gov.tc which is a short overview of the Budget’s contents and I present to you, this today, highlighting critical spending and projects for this financial year.”

The 2018-2019 Budget communication was delivered on July 10, 2018 and national spending for this fiscal period is put at $290,014,177.41.  Absorbing the largest share of the new Budget are Health Care and Education, explained the Finance Minister in a media debriefing at her Providenciales office.

Despite commendation for the Turks and Caicos for presenting a bigger budget, there is skepticism from observers including the Official Opposition PNP, which charges that the PDM Administration did not deliver on its commitments during the last fiscal year and will fall short again in 2018-2019.  The Premier however strongly disagreed. 

“…we were very successful last year, we have 71 or 72 out of 78 projects and only eight projects were cancelled.  So we were extremely successful last year and yesterday, we received a report from the Deputy Governor that over 90 percent of those have already reached the contract stage.”  Hon Robinson admitted, “…it is an ambitious budget which is why we are introducing additional staff… so that we do have the manpower, we do have the money…”

The Budget is late; the Turks and Caicos fiscal year usually begins in April.  Premier Sharlene Robinson explained that the catastrophic blow dealt the islands in the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season forced a delay in the delivery of the new financial year estimates.

“We had a very difficult time trending what our revenues, and I shouldn’t say difficult… we wanted to be careful, it is important to do that.  Even though we are reducing our savings by $21m, we have to demonstrate that we are going to be able to replenish it.  We also have to demonstrate that we will begin to look back at a surplus budget, because according to the Constitution, you cannot have a deficit budget.  So we had to get UK approval for the Deficit Budget for the reduction or pulling money from our savings and proving how we are going to replenish it.”

The Premier, joined by Infrastructure Minister, Goldray Ewing during the media meeting, explained that again the PDM Administration is pleased with the projections for capital spending.  Earmarked projects are priced, cumulatively, at over $36.6 million with major projects being road works in Providenciales, a seawall for Salt Cay and reconstruction at public education facilities.

“Included in our Capital Program this year is school repairs with Oseta Jolly as priority, the Community College, Helena Jones Robinson High School, Raymond Gardiner High school – all approved since February this year and of course Marjorie Basden High School and Iris Stubbs Primary School where works have already begun in South Caicos.” Premier Robinson added: “This Budget Year we have Ianthe Pratt, Enid Capron Primary, Mary Robinson primary school, Clement Howell High School and Eliza Simons primary school; they have also included furniture for the Long Bay High School new block.”

Getting double mention was the 8 percent increase in scholarship spending to $4 million; the extra money will enable the Scholarship Board to have more successful applicants.  The deadline for requests has been extended to August 17, 2018.

“The scholarships have been increased to $4m and while that is an 8 percent increase we have a large number of students returning and so there is a considerable amount of money in this year’s Budget for scholarships.”

The Budget, which is the second for the PDM Party since being elected to office in December 2016, also projects a deficit of over $10m which will be covered by money in the country’s savings account.

“Of note is the fact that the Budget also projects a deficit and a drawing down of $21 million on the country’s savings, which is the second time since the storm; first in February in relation to the Supplementary Appropriation Bill that we had received the UK’s approval to draw down on our reserves and to run a deficit.”

The link to the six page Citizens’ Guide to the Budget 2018-2019 is below:

http://online.fliphtml5.com/pejq/hdge/

 

Magnetic Media is a Telly Award winning multi-media company specializing in creating compelling and socially uplifting TV and Radio broadcast programming as a means for advertising and public relations exposure for its clients.

Health

Woman dies on Tuesday; 32nd Covid Death for Turks & Caicos

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, January 20, 2022 – The Turks and Caicos has recorded its 32nd death related to COVID-19.

A Ministry of Health press release informed that the individual who was in quarantine in Grand Turk and requested emergency aid on Tuesday; response came from the public health team in Grand Turk.

The person, who we are told is a special needs young woman – was unvaccinated and had underlying medical conditions.

The death rate in the Turks and Caicos of both vaccinated and unvaccinated persons has climbed alarmingly this year.  In the 21-month period from March 2020 when the country recorded its first case to December 2021, there were 26 deaths recorded in the TCI.

In the 19 days since the start of 2022 that number has increased to 32; which means six deaths already in January.

 

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Bahamas News

Cruising should slow down says PAHO

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

‘Slow down on Cruising’, that’s the word from the Pan American Health Organization, PAHO in their latest recent press conference.

Dr. Ciro Ugarte Director of Health Emergencies at the PAHO was referring to the Bahamas but made sure to note that the advice was highly relevant to many countries in the times of omicron.

“In the context of intense transmission, due to the Omicron variant as we have highlighted several times. It is just logical to suspend or at least limit the cruise ship traffic as an outbreak on board might end up exceedingly high and probably will go beyond the capacity of local health services”

Both the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos are experiencing a massive uptick in cases and several warnings regarding cruise travel have been issued by the US Centers for Disease Control.

Cruising just resumed for many regional countries this past Summer, Turks and Caicos was among the latest to restart on December 13.

A stop to sailing would be devastating to economies, however, ports of call like Grand Turk which are reeling with rocketing case numbers of COVID are urged to consider the suggestion of slowing down on ships by PAHO.

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Caribbean News

Understanding Sargassum with help from the TCI’s Department of Environment & Coastal Resources  

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By Sherrica Thompson

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, January 20, 2022 – Sargassum, also known as seaweed, is a natural brown macroalga that lives in temperate and tropical oceans of the world. The floating micro eco-system is important to many species, including baby turtles, little crabs, and tiny fish. All these animals use the floating rafts of the sargassum for protection, shelter, and food.

Over the years, sargassum has been increasing its quantity in the Caribbean due to climate change. As water temperatures increase, sargassum blooms, and as this continues, it occurs in large amounts. This can be dangerous for some marine life because when seaweed washes up on the shore, some species become trapped in the sargassum mat.

Environmental Outreach Coordinator at the Department of Environmental and Coastal Resources for TCI, Amy Avenant, says the Turks and Caicos Islands has not seen the worst of the overgrowth.

“In the Turks and Caicos Islands, we have not seen the full severity of sargassum blooms. Our neighbours in Bonaire, for example, experience up to six feet of sargassum, and they have found stranded dolphins, sea turtles, and sometimes even birds,” said Amy Avenant.

“When the sargassum washes up on shore, it starts to decompose, and when it decomposes, it emits methane, and that is the stinky sulfuric eggy smell that you can smell when you walk past it on the beach. It is a bad thing for climate change because of the methane, but it is not harmful to your health.”

Turks and Caicos saw this in extreme amounts in October; so severe, resorts were forced to bag and bury the stinky seaweed which for over a week covered the usually sandy white stretch of Grace Bay beach.

Avenant noted that in the TCI, we have a balance between managing the influx of sargassum and impacting the areas where it lands because its influx is correlated to the cycles of the moon.

She also said sargassum can be used as a fertilizer in farming. If you collect it, the advice is to spread it out and ensure you wash the excess salt off before adding to your gardens or farms.

There are also hidden dangers and habitat threats to the piles of sargassum on shorelines.

Avenant informed, when you see sargassum on the beach, ensure you watch out for wildlife that might be stuck and species which might have made a home of the ocean’s deposit which has washed up, this is heightened on rocky shores.

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