Don’t blame Magnetic Media, the public has a right to know – we are doing our job
EDITORIAL – January 26, 2019 – The elected leaders and the hired civil servants are basically all working for the same boss, the general public. These individuals are always aware of what is happening – good and bad, happy or sad – long before the general public gets wind of it.
Sometimes the civil servants know before the elected, sometimes it is the other way around but eventually, these two arms of governance will all end up on the same page when it comes to knowledge of what is and is not taking place behind the scenes in order to keep a country flowing.
It has long been my strong view that important information is far too sheltered in these islands. The public’s information is held in bondage by people who do not own it.
When it comes to public information, availability of data is low to zero, transparency is weak or non-existent, accountability is therefore hard to ensure or impossible to manage and this flings wide the doors for information leaks, misinformation, misinterpretation, poor job performance and oh yes, corruption.
Let’s remember, elected officials and civil servants are doing the public’s work.
The variety of accomplishments and setbacks, wins and losses all belong to the public which has hired them by vote or employment to do work for which the people are paying.
The results of that work – whatever it is – do not belong to any of them. Yet, information is cloaked, withheld, unrecorded, unpublished or comes at snail’s pace or in a trickle even when requested.
Naturally, we expect there to be confidentiality and discretion by our elected and employed workers of the public sector; but we do not expect to be locked out, denied or made to wait indefinitely on vital information.
In the case of this latest report on what Beaches Resort and Butch Stewart, its Chairman have decided – Magnetic Media carried the story it was given by a world-renowned company and other information it was given by a leading figure in this country.
As a media organization, the only way to verify that information in the Turks and Caicos Islands is to ask a leader in the area cited for the information. We did that. Up to publication time of the story, we did not get any information to offer another perspective or explanation or whatever would have been said.
As owner of my company, I assure you, had we received it – it would have impacted our report.
Magnetic Media, can prove that as we did with Beaches, we contacted the government for clarity, understanding and comment on what at the time was viewed as a ‘rumour’.
Beaches confirmed that what we were told was not merely a rumour and asked us to wait for their official response. We did.
Government said nothing.
Public, we believe you have a right to know and so we told you.
The rumour of the three closures, one labelled ‘indefinite’ was making its rounds on social media since Thursday.
Tactically, a statement should have been and could have been issued by Government or Beaches ahead of any query by me, other media houses or the general public – but as is the case so often with TCIG, it was not.
This editorial piece is not about taking sides on this sensitive and serious matter; but rather it is about greater transparency, better response to public concerns and Freedom of Information.
The problem with our government – and I am speaking to the succession of country leaders I have worked with over 12 years – is that there is nothing compelling them to answer us, provide data, prove it and when the time comes, to ensure the people’s position is present in any narrative.
While it has been said before, it is interesting to note that during ‘Ask Premier’ – a forum designed to provide the opportunity for Youth to speak directly to the country’s leader, Hon Sharlene Robinson – a Master’s Degree holder passionately expressed disappointment that in doing a paper on her own country, she could find little to no information.
And I conclude with that…
If all one can get is no information, then that is all one can use.
Three Days to NIB Rate Increase for 2023
By Dana Malcolm
#TurksandCaicos, March 29, 2023 – On April 1st, the second round of increases on contributions at the National Insurance Board will kick in for the Turks and Caicos workforce. Announced last year, the increases were instituted to keep the NIB from running out of money by 2027 as it services a population that is living longer with contributions that had not been increased in 30 years.
As the Government’s new financial year begins, increases at NIB will mean a higher cost for doing business and a higher cost for running the Government.
The private sector is expected to pay contributions at a rate of 11 percent on your taxable income. The hike is up from last year’s 10 per cent; six percent of which is to be paid by the Employer and five percent is to be paid by the Employee. For wages of $2000, this will mean a $200 improvement in income per month to the NIB. As for the burn on residents’ pockets, based on a minimum wage of $1200 monthly salary, that’s at least $60 dollars a month and $720 per year.
Public sector rates will move to 10.15 percent up from 9.15 per cent with the worker paying 4.575 per cent and the Government paying 5.575 per cent; that’s $54 a month and $648 a year at minimum wage.
The NIB rate as of April 1, 2023, will jump to 9 percent for self-employed individuals; For self-employed individuals at minimum wage, that is $108 dollars a month or $1296 per year.
As taxable incomes increase so will the contribution.
The increases follow a 2019 Actuarial review, undertaken every three years, which unearthed that the NIB was facing a dismal future, possible collapse. Contribution rates were growing at a rate much slower than NIB expenses, which included beneficiary payouts. On that trajectory, the NIB’s earnings would be eclipsed by its income by 2027, forcing the worker protection plan to draw down on money saved for economic shocks like Covid-19.
Unsurprisingly, this was deemed untenable, and an immediate increase was recommended.
Despite this scramble to boost earnings, the NIB has simultaneously increased payouts. Payouts for pensions, funeral grants, maternity grants and more will all attract bigger sums.
These incremental increases on contributions and payouts were all consultant recommendations, informed statements from the Board.
TCI Police Detective Holden Speaks Up on Blue Hills Rapes
#TurksandCaicos, March 27, 2023 – Following the announcement that several women had been robbed and assaulted in Blue Hills in the past weeks, Magnetic Media queried why the Police would wait until they had a man in custody to release an alert.
TCI’s newest addition to the top brass Detective Superintendent Dean Holden, Head of Crime, Safeguarding and Public Protection, told us that it initially appeared to be an isolated offence and not part of a series of incidents.
“The full circumstances needed to be investigated to ascertain the facts before a public alert could be considered. Misinformation in such a case would only cause unnecessary public concern and confusion and could adversely impact the investigation and the safeguarding of persons involved—” he said. “Even now there is no definitive information that these offences are linked, and investigators remain open-minded.”
Holden claimed an early alert with limited information could have hindered the investigation and they were trying to protect the women who may not have wanted to be identified based on where they lived.
As it turns out, the public concern was very much warranted, because there have been more violent sexual attacks, and more victims got hurt, forcing their hands.
“When further similar offences were committed, the overriding principle of sustained public protection was considered, hence the alert/release issued,” he said.
That alert was coupled with the news that a man had been arrested. Whether those further similar incidents could have been prevented if the public was informed earlier and taken extra precautions, is the underlying question. To date, we don’t know how many victims there are.
Police have increased patrols in the Blue Hills area and condemned the crimes as unacceptable. They have not indicated if anyone was charged for the offences yet.
Louise Garland Thomas High School are TCISS Inter-High Track & Field 2023 Champions
#TurksandCaicos, March 27, 2023 – After a festive three days of competition, the TCISS Inter-High Track & Field Championships 2023 have concluded with the A. Louise Garland Thomas High School reigning as Champions. Featuring a great turnout, eleven schools from across the Turks and Caicos Islands met to compete at the National Stadium March 9-11, 2023.
The competition was stiff among athletes, who were all competing for top spots and by extension a spot-on Team TCI’s CARIFTA 2023 team. From high-spirited invitationals to entertainment by DJ Shakes, spectators enjoyed the best Nationals competition yet.
- 1st Place: A. Louise Garland Thomas High School
- 2nd Place: Clement Howell High School
- 3rd Place: Marjorie Basden High School
Twenty athletes have been selected for Turks and Caicos Islands National CARIFTA Team, some who would have competed in the TCISS Inter-High Track & Field Championships 2023 and some living abroad.
Here are the athletes:
- Roniesha Johnson U-17 Girls CHHS
- Branary Delancy U-17 Girls LGTHS
- Krysann Williams U-20 Girls LGTHS
- Anesha Varus U-20 Girls CHHS
- Lynn Antoine U-20 Girls Unattached
- Chyna Simmons U-20 Girls BWIC
- Rayvon Black U-17 Boys Denbigh/Jam
- Renaldo Registre U-17 Boys RGHS
- Jarmal Missick U-17 Boys HJRHS
- Melique Evans U-17 Boys CHHS
- Love Joseph U-17 Boys LGTHS
- Kaeson Garland U-17 Boys MBHS
- Shamar Garland U-17 Boys HJRHS
- Alieandio Durham U-20 Boys CHHS
- Bernard Hyde U-20 Boys CHHS
- Markey Zepherin U-20 Boys CHHS
- Rayvon Walkin U-20 Boys KC/Jam
- Anthon Walkin U-20 Boys KC/Jam
- Alidavidson Higgs U-20 Boys JC/Jam
- Darvioun Rigby U-20 Boys Keiser/USA
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