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Big 18 rolled out; recommendations would return Turks and Caicos to ‘strongest constitution ever’

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Photo by TCIG Press Office

#Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands – November 6, 2018 – The PDM Government is moving to get 18 amendments to the Turks and Caicos 2011 Constitution; the document has long been cited as ‘regressive’ and this latest thrust by the near two-year old PDM administration is bold and seeks to have more power put in the hands of the people elected as opposed to the people appointed.

If Premier Sharlene Robinson and her delegation, which is due to meet with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London on December 6, 2018, get their way for the Turks and Caicos people then it will mean an end to voting rights for the UK-appointed Attorney General and Deputy Governor in Cabinet. 

“We agreed that the removal of the CFO was a non-issue, two we accepted the recommendations for the reinstatement of trial by jury under Fundamental Freedom. Three, we rejected the continued inclusion of the deputy governor as full member of Cabinet and further recommended that the Attorney General and the Deputy Governor be only ex-officio members of Cabinet with no voting rights.”

It would mean more say for elected officials in policing, a return of Crown Land management to a cabinet minister, reinstatement of trial by jury, removal of the mandate for the path to TCI citizenship at the constitutional level and the changes would return Cabinet to operations more akin to what was in the 2006 Constitution, where the Governor would follow the consensus on any given matter at Cabinet.

“Decisions to be made in Cabinet should follow the 2006 Constitution, emphasis on consensus and its meaning and the governor should be bound to follow Cabinet unless under special circumstances as set out,”  she continued later during that press conference with four newly crafted provisions by her administration. “Allow locally elected government to be able to have more of a strategic say over the Police Force through a strengthened National Security Council which is now simply an advisory body.”

Two other new provisions from the PDM Government are likely to be favorites among Turks and Caicos Islanders and were described as, “Return Crown Land under the management of a Minister.  Review the Public Service Management structure with a view to having a greater harmony between elected Government and Public Service Officers.”

The Premier said the recommendations have come from the citizenry during the consultation which was commissioned under then PNP premier, Rufus Ewing in 2015. Sharlene Robinson believes the season is better to make the requests for changes and added, there is no time to waste.

“These talks do not take two and three years,” reflecting on her previous role in constitutional construction for the Turks and Caicos Islands, Robinson added, “When we did the work in 2002 we never got the change until 2006.  So it is not a short period of time that we have back and forth in terms of consultation and agreeing with the UK.  I believe there is a spirit in the UK and an appetite for the all of the overseas territories.”

To our question on what the recommendations, if accepted in full or in part would result in for the Turks and Caicos Islands, Premier Robinson said:  “It takes us back to the strongest constitution we have ever had, 2006 where local government was really in charge of managing its country.  What we have now is a constitution that follows what transpired that caused the then 2006 Constitution to be suspended and it’s unfortunate that the UK believed the way to move forward and grow this country and to take us to where we need to be under their United Nations obligation was that they had to put so much controls in place.”

The plan to push for the Constitutional changes was explained in a press conference on Monday at the Office of the Premier in Providenciales.  It was also shared that the Opposition PNP will not be joining the government in London this coming December for the high level meeting.

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Build more prisons or invest in a Technical Vocational School?

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#TurksandCaicos, October 26, 2021What could be more rewarding for a small developing country like the Turks and Caicos Islands, other then creating additional educational opportunities for their citizens? 

In my opinion, it’s the latter of the two, but it’s yours to ponder.

What’s troubling is, at the rate of incarceration, our prison system in the Turks and Caicos Islands could soon be at capacity.

With that being a real possibility, what are some of the proactive steps currently being taken to help secure post-released employment and or participate in education and life skills training?

Many of our young men may not have any interest in attending college or university, but has acquired other skills over the years. So, what other opportunities do we have for this segment of the population in terms of further education or trade?

Look around the country, you will find most of our workforce revolves around the service and trade related industry. Many of these workers posses untapped skills that only need to be cultivated in their area of interest or expertise.

With that in mind, offering vocational education will allow students and young adults to gain the necessary practical experience with a renewed focus in their chosen field of study or career path. This is something they may have otherwise never been able to achieve through traditional classroom learning in academia.

In the 2021 PNP manifesto under education, labor and employment, it clearly states their commitment to the following:

“Create learning opportunities for students that caters to different interest, strengths and learning needs as well as provide the diverse skills that the country requires”.

Henceforth, it’s my belief government should make further provisions to subsidize apprenticeships for our young people, so it becomes more then just platitudes.

Let’s give credit where credit is due, the previous administration was on the right track when a proposal was made to launch a vocational technical school. Unfortunately, the current pandemic may have hampered those efforts. 

Nevertheless, the idea was brilliant, and this current administration should continue to embark on this initiative and see that it materializes.

This initiative should move forward, even if it means using the leverage of our BBB+ credit rating borrowing power while we are in the position to do so. It is my belief the return on investment could be priceless.

Often times, countries mimic each other with strategies to tackle or improve different situations, but mass incarceration should not be one of them.

Yes indeed, proper facilities are needed to house and secure those committing heneous crimes.

Nevertheless, if we have learned anything from a developed country like the United States in particular, which has the highest incarceration rate per capita, we can not arrest or incarcerate our way to crime reduction.

If anything, it should be a motivation to galvanise prison reform and readdress certain issues to help reduce the prison recidivism rate.

We should be very careful with what strategies we mimic without doing our own comprehensive studies to determine the societal impact or long term benefits of an initiative.

Given the population of Providenciales, it would be the ideal location for such school. 

However, the existing infrastructure in Grand Turk, which is currently being utilized as a community college could also suffice. 

With the separate workshops already in place, along with some much needed renovations, this location would make an easy transition for maybe two or three training classes.

It would be in the best interest of our country as well as big corporations, to support such initiative. 

Case in point: Prior to the pandemic, every year a foreign company was hired to come in to train and certify our boat operators on primarily international boating standards.

Depending on the location and whether it’s a recertification or a new certification, the cost could range anywhere from $360-$650 per person, in addition to travel and hotel accommodations.

With TCI having some of the best and brightest boat captains, could this be a customized curriculum or certification offered at a trade school?

This particular curriculum should include but not limited to, local regulations best practices and navigational charts for local waters to help mariners better understand the skills they are learning. 

This could also be a joint effort between the school, DECR and Maritime departments with qualified personnel to assist with facilitating such training.

Other courses of interest should include hospitality, marine mechanics, carpentry, AC technicians etc. Specifically, areas where it would give students the opportunity for an apprenticeship on the islands.

Not only will we have a higher level of skilled workers and tradesmen, but it will help to alleviate the need for such high dependency on foreign labor force, in addition to providing a readily available recruitment source. 

In short, it is of my opinion, education should always trump building more prisons. As concerned citizens, we have a choice to make, stay silent or let our voices be heard. This is what helps to drive government to action or lack thereof.

Ed Forbes,

Concerned Citizen of Grand Turk

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Health

Hundreds Treated in First Ever Sandals Foundation, Beaches Resorts, Great Shape! Inc’s 1000 Smiles Dental Clinic

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#TurksandCaicos, October 26, 2021 – Hundreds of people have been excitingly lining up outside the Church of God of Prophecy in Five Cays eager to meet with and be treated by an incredible team of dentists and other medical professionals at the island’s first ever 1000 Smiles Dental Clinic.

The programme, which provides access to free first-class dental care and education, is operated by the United States-based non-profit, Great Shape! Inc. and is being facilitated by the philanthropic arm of Sandals Resorts International (SRI) which operates Beaches Resorts – the Sandals Foundation.

Since its opening day on Monday, October 15, approximately 700 people have benefitted from fillings, cleanings, extractions, root canals, sealants, dentures and more from a team of 60 Great Shape! Inc. volunteers.

Joseph Wright, Founding Executive Director of Great Shape! Inc. says, “We are thrilled to launch the 1000 Smiles Project in Turks and Caicos Islands, 18 years after our first project in Negril, Jamaica!  The Covid-19 pandemic has severely disabled the governments’ ability to provide routine dental care in the countries we work in. So we are finding that after nearly 2 years, the need for dental care is acute.”

In the Turks and Caicos,” Wright continued, “The story is the same.  The lines are long and the people are so incredibly grateful.  With the help of Sandals Foundation, the 1000 Smiles Project launch in Turks and Caicos has been remarkably smooth and successful despite the many challenges we’ve face in these unique times.”

Clinics are open daily 8:30 to 4:30 with its operations carefully following Covid-19 safety protocols and guidelines.

To date, the teams have enjoyed the notable visits from members of the local communities including the Minister of Education and elected representative for the Five Cays District, Hon. Rachel Taylor. Hon Taylor was able to meet with the volunteer team and discuss the potential of future programs in partnership with Great Shape! Inc. and Sandals Foundation.

Heidi Clarke, Executive Director at Sandals Foundation was elated to see the turnout of families, noting that increasing access to healthcare services is a key component of the philanthropic organization’s work in improving the lives of the region’s people.

“We are beyond pleased to see the expansion of the 1000 Smiles dental programme into the beautiful Turks and Caicos Islands. Healthy people make healthy communities and as a Caribbean organization, we are fully committed to doing what we can to invest in the long term development of the region’s health sector and services”.

“These past eighteen months have been tough for families across the world,” continued Clarke, “We are very conscious of the toll this pandemic has had on families being able to meet some of their very basic needs. Good oral health reduces the risk of developing other serious diseases and so through these clinics, we just really want to help as many people as possible take care of one of the most important health investments they could make,” Heidi Clarke, Executive Director at the Sandals Foundation.

The Sandals Foundation Great Shape! Inc. dental programme has been a staple across the Caribbean since 2003, operating in the islands of Jamaica, St. Lucia and Grenada.

Here in Turks and Caicos Islands, mission volunteers are all being hosted at the Beaches Resorts with logistical, infrastructural and staff support covered by the hotel’s philanthropic arm.

 

Photo Captions: 

Header: Volunteer Dentist hard at work performing procedures

1st insert: Great Shape! Inc. Volunteer Leader, Kevon Williams and Beaches Turks & Caicos Team Member, Quinique Cartwright

2nd insert: Dental Clinic at the Church of God of Prophecy, Five Cays

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News

Dig Deeper, Wait Longer – Supply Chain issues will hurt Import-dependent territories like TCI

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#TurksandCaicos, October 26, 2021 – After the devastating effects of the global pandemic, major economies are grappling with yet another global crisis: global supply chain disruption.  Manufacturing industries are running short of raw materials, Tech Company’s running out of parts and chips, while the supermarkets, food stores, and local retails are running out of stock.  But, the worst is yet to come as the pressure at the ports continues with no signs of easing quickly.

TCI is one of the countries in the Caribbean region likely to face the impact of the supply chain breakdown caused by the long-term effects of the global pandemic that sent most of the now operating companies to a sudden halt.

Being an island nation endowed with spectacular tourists attraction sites and fantastic beaches, the country depends largely on the blue economy and imports most of the products such as foodstuffs, cosmetics, automobiles, electronic, fabrics, furniture, fuel, equipment, building supplies and more, from abroad through its South Dock port.

However, the sea routes and major export economies of China and India are busier than ever before, facing unrelenting delays in loading and offloading the vast number of commercial container ships supplying the world’s markets.  The pressure at the ports has caused delays in shipment and freight hikes, resulting in an increased cost of imported products.  As such, TCI residents will have to dig deep into their pockets to pay more for imported products they primarily rely on.

While the crisis has hit highly populated nations such as the US and India hard, Caribbean countries with a small population such as the Turks and Caicos Islands may not feel the heat immediately.  But, with the nearing Christmas season, products ordered abroad will take longer to reach customers and at a pricier tag than they used to be in the past.

Additionally, on-demand products, gifts, toys, and more are likely to run out at stores if the supply chain crisis exacerbates ahead of the Christmas holiday due to panic buying and the skyrocketing demand for these items.

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