#Providenciales, March 31, 2019 – Turks and Caicos – Millions of dollars went unspent this fiscal year and it affected the fulfillment of significant capital projects including repairs to public buildings and modernization in government services; the Opposition PNP lambasted the PDM Government for this gross underspending and accused the administration of playing politics with the people’s money.
“The real problem here, the crux of the matter is that the government was not able to draw down on the 2018-2019 budget allocation and in a last ditch effort to save face, they have come with this supplementary appropriation with the sole purpose of placating the people of these islands as it relates to the technical vocation school and I doubt very much that all the necessary processes and research was done to ensure that it is the best location and the best facility.”
During debate on Friday to re-arrange monies to the tune of $4.3 million dollars, the Opposition side had three members who lent strongly to the debate; Washington Misick, PNP Leader; Royal Robinson, Opposition Appointed Member and Josephine Connolly, all island member who recently went from an independent member to the PNP side, after resigning the PDM party.
Reasons cited in an Appropriations Committee Report included that some projects never made it to tender, while others were under-funded and were unable to proceed leaving millions of dollars unspent and millions in projects undone.
Former Finance Minister, Washington Misick read periodically from the report during his contribution on the supplementary to the Budget; he labelled some explanations in the document deceptive and the inability to complete some school projects, disappointing.
“It is assumed these projects will be in 2019-2020 because it’ll be a travesty to those communities, particularly at the secondary school level if their capital budgets are being reduced or removed, just to be able to make a statement, a political one.” He added, “Mr. Speaker, if you are phasing a project, it’s not that it is being decreased, the cost is being deferred by the very nature of the word phasing means that instead of coming this month, it may come three months later so some of the language that is used in here, that comes across as being somewhat deceptive.”
Hon. Misick was critical of the leap of the PDM Government to buy a building for a Technical and Vocational school; revealing that the new purchase was never a part of the roster for the original 2018-2019 Budget and that more research should be done before the government spent the public’s money on a site which could prove unfit for long term development.
Three million dollars was announced as the cost for TCIG to acquire the current site of the Oseta Jolly Primary school; the school just behind Abundant Life Ministries church.
Hon Royal Robinson asked the government about its promise for change.
“Something has to be done by now with the procurement process. Mr. Speaker we cannot continue down this path and one of the complaints we have been having from a number of our indigenous contractors is that they have not been getting some of the work because of the onerous requirement that has been placed on the process.” Robinson added, “Mr. Speaker you have a new sheriff in town who said she is the agent for change… the Premier has a duty and a responsibility to come to the House with the legislation that’s needed to change this thing, it could only be changed here and if the powers that be don’t sign on then we go to the streets Mr. Speaker!
Hon Connolly agrees that the procurement ordinance is not delivering for the people, and that the technical and vocational school is a brand-new project. The Member expressed her surprise that changes to the Development Budget were coming just two days before the end of the fiscal year, which ends on Sunday, March 31, 2019.
“It’s lack of planning, all of this has been left for last minute or in this case, the last day. This is not the first rushed bill we have had but I am going to suggest Mr. Speaker that our Government needs to consider a legislative time table, it is very good tool, and it will stop some of these last-minute dramas.”
Hon Connolly said she supports the idea of a trade school and asked for details of the policy.
Cuts included half a million dollars in furniture for schools, no refurbishment construction at some schools and other public buildings because bids came in above what was budgeted, and cuts in technological advances to help both the real estate and tourism industry, among others.
RTCIPF Marine Branch and USCG Working Together in Keeping Our Borders Secure
#TurksandCaicos, May 20, 2022 – During the afternoon of Wednesday 19th May 2022, a call was made to the RTCIPF Marine Operations Centre via VHF radio that a suspicious vessel was sighted around 35 miles south east of Providenciales. The operator immediately updated colleagues within the Royal Turks and Caicos Marine Branch who made their way to the location and with the support of a US Coast Guard (USCG) plane, safely intercepted an overloaded vessel carrying irregular migrants.
Following delicate coordination and the stabilization of the boat which was unsafe, severely overcrowded and none of the occupants was wearing life vests, the RTCIPF marine unit was joined by a second RTCIPF Marine crew and a third vessel crewed with TCI Regiment and Tactical Unit officers to support the delicate operation.
The vessel was carefully offloaded at sea to ensure the safety of the occupants after which, the boat was towed to South Dock where it arrived around 10:30pm with a total of 110 persons (84 males and 24 females and 2 juveniles) who were then taken into custody by the Immigration Department.
Superintendent Martyn Ball said, “Once again working with partners we have safely intercepted another vessel that was overcrowded, unsafe, risking the lives of those on board. This demonstrates the professionalism and dedication of the RTCIPF Marine Unit, working together with colleagues in the Marine Operations Centre, USCG, TCI Regiment, TCI Immigration and the RTCIPF Tactical Unit to save lives and keep our borders here in the Turks and Caicos safe. In the last couple of months around 768 individuals on 8 dangerous vessels have been intercepted which is testament to the professionalism of our teams here in the TCI and I am very grateful to the passing vessel who raised the alarm. I would appeal to anyone if you have any information relating to such activity that you call Crimes Stoppers free and anonymously on 1-800-8477 (TIPS) not only will you be saving lives but also supporting our national security here in the Turks and Caicos Islands.”
Ten Selected for the TCREA Real Estate Mentorship Program
#TurksandCaicos, May 20, 2022 – Since the official announcement of the Turks & Caicos Real Estate Association’s High School Mentorship Program, ten mentees have been selected for the inaugural group and will begin their journey on the road to embracing the fundamentals of the real estate field this month.
TCREA Ambassador and Director of the mentorship program, Mr. Trevor Musgrove, shared how pleased the committee was to have received thirty applications for the program, “We extended the opportunity to high schoolers and young college students aged 13-17. Initially, the invitation for applications was shared only with Providenciales students because of the logistical challenge to accommodate in-person sessions with sister island students, as all our committee members are based in Providenciales.
Luckily, once the Ministry of Education came on board and endorsed the program, Honourable Rachel Taylor immediately encouraged us to extend the mentorship opportunity to all islands, pledging her Ministry’s commitment to handling the necessary authorizations and cost to ensure successful applicants outside of Provo would be able travel here as needed,” said Musgrove.
The successful applicants and their respective schools are as follows:
· Clement Howell High – Dashawn Brooks, Alyssa Callum
· Raymond Gardiner High – Olique Stubbs, Lewis Walkin, Jr.
· Precious Treasures – Aniyah Bovie
· Maranatha Academy – Shamya Missick
· British West Indies Collegiate – Pavla Lalakova, Andino Parker
· Louise Garland Thomas High – Abnise Noel, Antoine Gedeon
Musgrove said they were pleased to have had applicants from North Caicos and were hopeful to have students from Grand Turk and South Caicos among the group, however no applications were received from those islands.
On Tuesday, May 10th the final group came together for a virtual meet-up and briefing, where they were formally introduced to the program’s mentors and were given an overview of what to expect in the coming months.
The teens will receive a monthly educational module over the next six months and will be provided 1-2 weeks to internalize the information. They will then enjoy a monthly in-person session with their mentors where they will put their real estate acumen to the test in interactive sessions, field trips, and more.
Program mentor Manfred Smith of Sotheby’s Turks & Caicos shared his elation for the program’s momentum thus far, “We are excited about providing this opportunity to introduce high school students to the real estate industry. From the initial feedback, the students are also very keen to learn, which makes it rewarding for all as we contribute to the development of tomorrow’s professionals.”
Smith says the program also demonstrates TCREA’s continued commitment as good corporate citizens in the rapidly growing country. The committee hopes that the mentees would grasp all that they can as they continue their educational pursuits.
The program’s Facebook page, @tcreamentors, is live and will document the group’s journey as they move through the program’s phases. Along with Musgrove and Smith, the community can get to know more about the other committee members: Blair MacPherson of REMAX; Nina Siegenthaler of Sotheby’s; Vernica Delancy and Dedra Gray of Keller Williams; and Sean O’neill, of The Agency through the social media page as well.
At the end of the program, the students will sit a mock real estate license exam and will enjoy a retreat for a fun and memorable close-out.
It is TCREA’s hope that this initiative will garner an interest and appreciation for the industry among high-schoolers and will act as springboard to the development of the next generation of local real estate professionals in these islands.
DECR Launches Important Tropical Plant Areas & Species in TCI Project
#TurksandCaicos, May 19, 2022 – The Department of Environment and Coastal Resources (DECR) along with visiting scientists from Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (RBG Kew) will launch the DarwinPlus 114 Project Tropical Important Plant Areas and Important Plant Species in TCI. The project was originally to begin in May 2020, but with Covid-19-related travel restrictions, along with restructuring at DECR and RBG Kew, two years of deferments were necessary. The project has begun and will be officially launched this week in a workshop on Thursday 12 May 2022 beginning at 9:00 AM in the National Environmental Centre.
In reference to the project, DECR Director Lormeka Williams stated, “With the recent completion of the National Physical Development Plan, the signing of the Climate Change Charter, and the review of the National Parks Ordinance, we are poised and ready to utilise new information on land use and impacts to our Protected Areas and green spaces. We are newly energised to commit to the discovery and description of our most sensitive and significant plant diversity hotspots. We’re inspired by our colleagues in the British Virgin Islands having completed the pilot of this project. We are also ready and excited to find out what these plants are that evade identification and may prove to be something unknown to science.”
The project is focused on identifying Tropical Important Plant Areas (TIPAs) in Turks and Caicos Islands. TIPAs are a network of the key sites for wild plants and threatened habitats identified using scientifically robust data. They are not legal designations, but a means to identify the most important sites for wild plant diversity and to inform the protection and management of sites. Identifying TIPAs will help prevent the global loss of plant diversity, whilst safeguarding the role of plants as primary producers and providers of ecosystem infrastructure, products, and services.
TIPAs also provides a framework for Governments to implement target 5 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Global Strategy for Plant Conservation – to ensure the protection of at least 75% of the most important areas for plant diversity of each ecological region by 2020 with effective management in place for conserving plants and their genetic diversity. TIPAs also contribute to implementing the CBD’s Aichi Biodiversity Target 12 – by 2020 the extinction of known threatened species has been prevented and their conservation status, particularly of those most in decline, has been improved and sustained. Criteria for identification of Tropical Important Plant Areas were developed, and the first nationwide project was completed by RBG Kew and the Virgin Islands National Parks Trust in the British Virgin Islands in 2019. Assistant Director of Research and Development B Naqqi Manco participated in the April 2019 BVI TIPAs Workshop, and discussed the potential to replicate the project with long-established partners at RBG Kew in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Following the TCI TIPAs Launch Workshop, the DECR and RBG Kew team will trial the criteria over several sites of high plant diversity in Providenciales, North Caicos, and Middle Caicos. Over the next three years, the teams will cover other islands as well. Of particular importance will be the Turks and Caicos Islands eight known endemic plant species – those found nowhere else on earth. A secondary component of the project focuses on investigating some unique populations of rare plants in TCI, which may constitute new varieties or even species. RBG Kew will use DNA analysis to explore the relationship of these species to their closest relatives. Importantly, the rare and endemic species will be targeted for IUCN Red Data Listing as well, to assess their wild population status and trends.
Photo: This beautiful Encyclia orchid is one of the unique groups of plants that will be studied by the project.
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