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TCI: Independent House member Connolly says PDM Government too inexperienced to manage the country

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File Photo - Hon Josephine Connolly, All Island Member

#Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos – July 30, 2018 – Money was not the problem for the PDM Administration; it was a lack of execution according to Hon Josephine Connolly, which resulted in a long list of un-dones.

The All Island member, who broke off from the PDM in January and is now counted as an independent Member of the House of Assembly, blasted the performance of the Premier and Finance Minister, Hon Sharlene Robinson in the last fiscal year.

“The money was there, Mr Speaker, it simply was not spent. Section 5 of the booklet gives a long sorry list of desperately needed capital projects that have not been started, not because there was no money, but because there was no execution. And, Mr Speaker, this was before the devastation of the two hurricanes.  

Connolly calls it under-spending and when questioned by Magnetic Media about what she believes is behind it, said: “I strongly believe that Our Ministers came into office without the experience of being involved with major capital projects. The procurement process is complicated and it requires skill and perseverance to ensure the capital projects start and get completed on time. What was needed, and is still needed, the ministers project managing the progress of all capital projects on a regular basis and working as a team to remove impediments. It requires leadership which so far has been sadly lacking.”

The sentiments are the general tone of all contributions by Connolly, who is vocally doubtful that the current government has what it takes to govern effectively.
To the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Connolly said, “I hope the Minister of Finance will be able to detail in her closing contribution the remedial actions she has taken within her government to ensure that the debacle of under spending in 2017/18 does not reoccur in 2018/19.”

The former PDM Minister of Education said in her contribution that, “I think, Mr Speaker, the people of this country were expecting a year when this government drives development and pushes up revenues for the benefit of all. The budget as presented by the Minister of Finance portrays a lack of confidence in her ability to drive that business growth.”


Hon Connolly, a businesswoman by profession said ignorance of best practices resulted in heftier costs to the public for the National Health Insurance Board and pointed to what she believes is a missed opportunity by the Robinson-led government.

“One looks after are health and one our comfort in old age. They are significant organizations and they have come in for some criticism in the January 2018 report on statutory bodies.
It is not clear to me Mr Speaker that any of the significant recommendations of that report have been accepted or included in this budget. For instance the recommendation that the administration of the NHIB should be merged with the NIB has been ignored.

The obvious savings that would have been made had this recommendation been followed in terms of office rental, investment in computer systems and combining the best practices are so obvious that I think that the House would be interested as to why these savings have been ignored by the Minister of Finance.

The failures of not using best practice are there for all to see. Last year Mr Speaker the NHIB was budgeted to receive from TCIG $23M… it actually needed $33M. Almost 50% higher than the budgeted amount. I was a little surprised that the appropriations committee did not ask the question “How can you be wrong by $11M last year and how do you know you are right this year?”

Connolly disagrees with the lack of scrutiny and does not support just upping spending for the Health Insurance Board.

“May I respectfully suggest that if the Minister of Finance wishes to get a handle on the Finances of the NHIB that they speed up the appointment of a CFO. I understand that the previous CFO left in June 2017 and 8 months later in February the published summary of the cabinet meeting referenced “progress on recruiting a CFO for NHIB”. Well one would hope that after 8 months some progress had been made!

I am not sure Mr Speaker why anyone is surprised at massive over budget of expenditure if the people meant to monitor the expenditure are not in place. Perhaps Mr Speaker the reason for the vacancy is that the salary outlined in the budget is not enough to attract the right candidate. The CFO will be responsible for a budget of over $68M. We need an experienced financial director with enough credibility to advise the board, introduce systems and control the expenditure in a fair and equitable manner. That expertise does not come cheap.”

The fifth all island member said the Appropriations Committee unearthed that there are 50 audit reports of Statutory Bodies outstanding; and that the NHIP had turned in no audit for three years.

Hon. Josephine Connolly blamed the Government for not ensuring accountability.

“It would be nice if the self-funding statutory bodies were up to date Mr Speaker, but the last published audited accounts on the NIB web-site is for the year ending March 31, 2013 , that is five years ago!

This is our pension money we have a right to know that our money is safe and secure and the NIB have an obligation to comply with the law.

The responsibility for the completion of these audits is the National Audit Office I appreciate that the Minister of Finance does not have power to direct the audit office as identified in section 52 of the Finance and Audit Ordinance. However the failure of the audit function cannot continue….. everyone has to be held to account….…. even the national Audit Office.”

Connolly also drew attention to the Center for Entrepreneurial Development, the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police and the Ministry of Education among other areas of concern.

Most of the comments were made by Hon. Josephine Connolly during the 2018 Budget Debate in Grand Turk July 10-13, 2018.

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TCI Red Cross Hits New Heights with 3rd Annual Red Hot Challenge Success  

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June 13, 2024: PROVIDENCIALES, TURKS AND CAICOS: The TCI Red Cross recently hosted their successful 3rd Annual Red Hot Challenge, a testament to the organization’s commitment to community engagement and humanitarian efforts.

This year’s event, held at the National Stadium in Providenciales, brought together over 13 teams in a thrilling display of sportsmanship and skills. The Beaches Marlins emerged victorious, with the Amanyara Cruisers in second place and the Beaches Pirates in third.

Speaking on the event, TCI Red Cross Director Candianne Williams said, “Year after year, the Red Hot Challenge fundraiser has grown more successful, and we really could not have done it without the support we have received from our participating teams, sponsors, volunteers and supporters.”

She continued, “When we started the Red Hot Challenge series of fundraisers, our goal was not only to raise funds for the work we do here at the Red Cross but also to create an event that would bring together the community in a spirit of unity, support, and fun-filled camaraderie.”

This year’s event showcased an active lineup of exciting competitions, which included traditional favorites like arm wrestling and tug-of-war, alongside engaging challenges such as football tosses, planks, spoon relay races, egg tosses, water balloon tosses, sprint races, and soccer kicks.

Williams added, “The games were not only interactive for the participants but also fun, and I extend my heartfelt congratulations to the Beaches Marlins on winning first place in this year’s competition, as well as the Amanyara Cruisers on their second place and the Beaches Pirates on coming in third, respectively.”

Keneisha Thompson, the Turks and Caicos Athletics Association representative, emphasized, “We commend the teams for their participation, especially as this is the only event in the TCI for sporting participants. Their dedication this year, from organizing the rules to meeting the teams and executing the event, is truly remarkable.”

The annual Red Hot Challenge stands as a cornerstone of the organization’s acclaimed ‘Red Hot’ fundraising series, serving as a pivotal event in the TCI Red Cross’s fundraising initiatives. This series has witnessed the success of two corporate sports days and two fashion extravaganzas. These events not only raise crucial funds but also foster community engagement and support for the humanitarian work of the TCI Red Cross.

Karen Whitt of the Hartling Group, who serves as Chair of the TCIRC Fundraising Committee, commended the participants, stating, “Congratulations to all of the participants; you are all winners for supporting this year’s Red Hot Challenge. The event’s success is a testament to the unwavering commitment of our community to support the vital work of the Red Cross in the Turks and Caicos Islands.”

This year’s team lineup featured the Beaches Marlins, Amanyara Cruisers, Beaches Pirates, NSS Destroyers, CHHS Eagles, Waterloo Worriers, The Palms, Royal TCI Police Enforcers, Louise Garland High School, NCS, The Sands, and The Source. Proud sponsors of the team included The Strand and The Marlin Limited, with Powerade joining as the official drink sponsor of the games.

The next Red Hot Challenge is scheduled for Saturday, May 3, 2025, at the National Stadium on Providenciales. For more information on the TCI Red Cross and its activities, please visit their website at https://www.redcross.org.tc/ and follow their social media accounts: Turks and Caicos Red Cross on Facebook and @TCIRedcross_ on Instagram.

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EXPERIENCE TURKS AND CAICOS ROLLS OUT EXQUISTE TURKS AND CAICOS

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Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands, 13th June 2024– Experience Turks and Caicos is set to roll out a new initiative designed to promote immersive tourism in the islands.
Titled ‘Exquisite Turks and Caicos’, this immersive tourism programme, conceptualised by the Strategic Development Unit, collaborates closely with industry partners to curate and deliver on niche product offerings and services to enhance our visitors’ overall experience.
 
Focused on adding significant value in education, culture, history, eco-friendliness, entertainment, engagement, and affordability, the programme has identified priority areas through which new or existing micro and small businesses can partner. The programme targets businesses that are land-based, water-based (excluding dive and charters), and involved in the promotion of the cultural arts, nature and wildlife, gastronomy, agriculture and heritage. The goal of Exquisite Turks and Caicos is to ensure that the traveller will walk away not only having an exquisite experience, but a learned one that will be treasured always.
 
“Immersive Tourism is about creating compelling and interactive visitor experiences through strategic partnerships with local vendors. It goes beyond traditional sightseeing and offers travellers a deeper connection to the destination’s culture, history, and environment,” says Mr. Courtney Robinson, Strategic Development Manager.
 
“‘Exquisite Turks and Caicos’ is our commitment to our pillar of Inclusive Growth which ensures that everyone in the Turks and Caicos Islands benefit from the tourism industry through the enhancement of our offerings. It extends beyond the warm smiles, white sandy beaches or picturesque landscapes; it is a promise to curate and deliver on experiences that create memories, that resonate with the soul of every traveller,” he added.
 
Mr. Robinson will visit Grand Turk, North Caicos, Middle Caicos and South Caicos to meet with business owners about the programme.

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Joint Operations Result in Interception of Illegal Migrants in Providenciales

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#RoyalTCIPolice, #Providenciales, June 10, 2024 – The Royal Bahamas Defence Force intercepted an illegal sloop transporting SIXTY-SIX (66) irregular migrants on the evening of June 9th, 2024.

The detained group, comprising FIFTY-FIVE (55) males and ELEVEN (11) females, was
intercepted in TCI waters and handed over to the TCI Immigration Task Force for processing.

On June 8th, the Marine Branch of the RTCIPF intercepted a blue and white fibreglass boat
carrying thirty-two (32) irregular migrants.

The boat was spotted 27 miles east of South Caicos and found to be transporting twenty-six (26)
males and six (6) females. The irregular migrants were handed over to Immigration for
processing.

These successful interdictions came following information obtained from a US Customs and
Border Force aircraft.

A joint operation conducted on June 7th has led to the detention of irregular migrants in Blue
Hills. Acting on the information received, authorities detained forty-eight (48) individuals
running along a beach.

Officers conducted extensive searches of surrounding areas, and tragically, the body of a female
was found at Pigeon Pound. Further investigations are ongoing, but it is believed the incident is
linked to a vessel attempting to enter the country illegally.

Acting Assistant Commissioner of Police (Specialist Tactical Operations) Mat Newton states, “I
wish to thank all law enforcement agencies for their invaluable assistance in intercepting illegal
sloops attempting to enter the TCI. Your dedication and collaboration have been instrumental in
ensuring national security and protecting our borders. Our Radar, Marine and Drone units, the
TCI Regiment, the Immigration Task Force, and the Customs Department conducted the
operations.

“The RTCIPF strongly condemns the attempts to enter the TCI illegally. Such actions violate the
law and pose severe risks to life, especially in adverse weather conditions.

“We urge those facilitating and encouraging these illegal attempts to consider the severe
consequences. Do not risk your life or the lives of others by embarking on such perilous
journeys.

“I am also grateful to those people from our communities who report suspicious activity relating
to illegal migration and would urge the public to continue keeping us informed.”
The RTCIPF asks the public to notify the closest police station, contact 911, the Serious Crime
Unit at 231-1842, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-8477 to anonymously provide any information on
illegal entry into the TCI.

Additionally, individuals are encouraged to download the Crimestoppers P3 app to share
information anonymously.

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