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Turks and Caicos is first to add Disaster Management to the Tourism portfolio

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#Providenciales, May 17, 2019 – Turks and Caicos – The pair of officials called it a natural fit which will lead to greater synergy and stronger lines of communication between two critically-linked agencies; Tourism as the leading bread-winner for the Turks and Caicos Islands now directly houses the Department of Disaster Management & Emergencies, DDME which undergirds all industries in any worse case scenario; and the shift is pioneering. 

“I believe that this marriage is timely, it is bold and persons from across the region are giving kudos to the Turks and Caicos for having the foresight to have all of  these very important environmental, tourism, economic drivers under one ministry working together in a collaborative fashion,” said Ralph Higgs, Minister of Tourism during a press conference on Wednesday.  

In response to Magnetic Media’s question about the landmark move from Home Affairs to Tourism, Director of DDME, Dr. Virginia Clerveaux said, “We are the first to add Tourism and Disaster Management, however tourism and disaster management have been working together throughout the region for years.  I think we are unique in the fact that when you look at the make-up of our Ministry it’s tourism, it’s environment, you see the name quickly and then you begin to think of the maritime sector that is also critical to us in the Turks and Caicos Islands and then you’re looking at heritage and you’re thinking about the UN perspective and protecting your heritage sites and how they can be impacted by not only man-made but also natural events,” she continued with, “The Department of Disaster Management, we come as if we are the overall co-ordinator…”

The relationship between the entities is not new, nor had it been dormant; there are many settings on a national level where the departments of environment, maritime and disaster management are required to give expert input. 

In hurricane season, DDME serves as a strategic advisor for the tourism sector and admittedly, the half a billion dollars in damages and losses in Hurricanes Irma and Maria of 2017 accelerated the need for the union.

“There has been a good working relationship between the Department and the DDME and tourist Board for several years, one of the pluses of this union now is that all of the information needed to address tourism related matters will be contained of one umbrella,” explained Minister Higgs, who is a former Tourist Board Director.

DDME Director Dr. Clerveaux supported the remarks from her new Minister with, “It is important that we protect our investment.  One major storm with a magnitude of what we experienced from Ike, Irma or Maria can spell a disaster in the Turks and Caicos Islands.  The environment, the tourism industry, the travel industry are our most vulnerable sectors, not just in the Turks and Caicos islands, but throughout the world and therefore putting policies in place and working with our Tourism sector and working with the Environmental Agencies to ensure that we protect our natural resources is one of the best things that we can do, in terms of sustainable development management.”

Minister Higgs agrees and told media that he is pleased that the DDME can feed the ministry’s interests more directly.

“I think with this marriage now we can publicly celebrate that we have a complete ministry, as the Director said, over the years there has been a lot of collaboration and a lot of synergy, a lot of working together to ensure that in the event that there is a disaster, our number one industry which is tourism is not destroyed beyond repair.  I believe with the marriage of the DDME (to the Ministry of Tourism, Gaming, Environment and Maritime Affairs), we will take a very proactive approach to ensuring that the people of this country, our visitors to this country, knows the risk of any disaster and they know the vulnerabilities and they ensure that they have measures in place.”

Dr. Virginia Clerveaux as Director of the Department has been hailed at home and abroad for the efficient and effective management of the DDME, especially in the aftermath of the hurricane season’s most fierce storms on record.  Dr. Clerveaux takes with her to Tourism a team of 10 and the shift came in a TCI Cabinet shuffle which placed the DDME under the Tourism, Environment, Heritage and Maritime umbrella.

“This merger will ensure that there is more synergy and there is greater communication between the natural resource enforcers and the agency that has to coordinate response in the event of a disaster.”

The media meeting was held at the Department of Disaster Management and Emergencies Providenciale headquarters and handed over to Minister Ralph Higgs were the policies governing the DDME and its Disaster Management strategies.

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Bahamas News

MP’s Graduate with Parliamentary Governance Certificates

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January 18, 2022 – The Caribbean Democrat Union (CDU), in partnership with the Conservatives Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) Programme, held an Online Graduation Ceremony on Friday January 14th 2022 for fifteen (15) Members of Parliament who successfully completed a one year certificate programme in Parliamentary Governance with McGill University in Canada.

This professional development certificate programme is recognized by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) and provided MP’s with important theoretical and practical knowledge in executing their roles and responsibilities as legislators. Sponsorship for the MP’s was provided by the Conservatives WFD Programme.

The successful graduates included:

  • Tracy Panton– MP Albert, UDP, Belize
  • Shyne Barrow – MP, Mesopotamia, UDP, Belize
  • Senator Hon. Sheena Pitts – UDP, Belize
  • Kerensia Morrison – MP St. Catherine North Eastern, JLP, Jamaica
  • Tova Hamilton – MP, Trelawny Northern, JLP, Jamaica
  • Dr. Michelle Charles – MP, St. Thomas Eastern, JLP, Jamaica
  • Tamika Davis – MP, Hanover Western, JLP, Jamaica
  • Rhoda Crawford – MP, Manchester Central, JLP, Jamaica
  • Anne Marie Vaz – MP, Portland Eastern, JLP, Jamaica
  • Krstyal Lee – MP, St. Anne North Western, JLP, Jamaica
  • Robert Miller – MP St. Catherine South Eastern, JLP, Jamaica
  • Heroy Clarke – MP, St. James Central, JLP, Jamaica
  • Dwight Sibblies – MP, Clarendon Northern, JLP, Jamaica
  • Morland Wilson – MP, Westmoreland Western, JLP, Jamaica
  • Senator Hon. Shevern John – NDP, St. Vincent and the Grenadines

The Online Graduation Ceremony was attended by The Most Hon. Andrew Holness Prime Minister of Jamaica, Maria Miller Conservative MP UK, Dr. Hon. Godwin Friday Leader of the Opposition St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Hon. Patrick Faber Leader of the Opposition Belize, Carola Weil Dean of Continuing Studies McGill University, Nick Francis Secretary General CDU, and other officials from the UK Conservative Party’s International Department and Faculty and Staff from McGill University.

Mr. Nick Francis in his remarks at the ceremony noted that this initiative was birthed through greater engagement and consultation with stakeholders in the region in light of the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and he was grateful to the administrators at McGill University for partnering with the CDU and the Conservatives WFD Programme to make this online training possible.

Hon. Patrick Faber and Dr. Hon. Godwin Friday extended congratulations to the graduates and expressed gratitude to the Conservatives WFD Programme, the CDU and McGill University on this successful collaboration to enhance parliamentary democracy in their respective countries.

A second cohort of trainees will commence the Parliamentary Governance Certificate with McGill University in March of this year and will include young prospective MP’s.

Quotes:

Dean of Continuing Studies at McGill University Carola Weil extended congratulations to the fifteen (15) MP’s for successfully completing the yearlong certificate programme in Parliamentary Governance and noted that this was an “important step towards the continuation of good governance and democracy around the world”

In addressing the graduates at the ceremony, Prime Minster the Most Hon. Andrew Holness noted his expectations that the training received will help to inform their advocacy, guide their involvement in policy development, and “contribute to a new cadre of political representatives that will always strive for the highest standards of excellence in governance, in parliamentary practice, and in political representation.”

Conservative MP Maria Miller UK in a pre-recorded message to the graduates (the majority being new female MP’s) noted that in light of the challenges facing women in politics, “the Conservative WFD Programme is committed to strengthening democracy by creating a much more inclusive, accountable and transparent political system.”

 

Press Release: CDU

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Education

Education Minister announces Platinum Partnerships for internet and tablet program amidst COVID surge

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By Shaniek Smith

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, January 15, 2022 – Schools did not resume in person learning in the Turks and Caicos on January 4, instead it was back to virtual classes for 7,400 children in the British overseas territory due to an omicron-driven surge in Covid-19 infections.

It was announced on the New Year’s Day holiday for TCI, January 3 in a press conference hosted by Rachel Taylor, the Minister of Education, and attended by Jamell Robinson, Minister of Health and supported by Premier Washington Misick, who was also at the live event.

In a promised update, parents got the not-so-good-news, virtual classes would resume at least until the end of January due to the surge and staff shortages being experienced.  Turks and Caicos, up to Thursday January 14 had over 800 active cases, five new deaths and a 600 per cent increase in hospitalisations.  The Minister said the decision was in the interest of safety.

The Minister also promised to get devices and internet to students in order for them to participate in learning during this virtual-only season.  The press conference on January 13, welcomed partners Flow, Digicel and the Pine Cay Project.

In her address, chair of the Pine Cay Project, Marie Landel, said that an urgent call from Dr. Carlton Mills, a member of their board of trustees revealed that about 750 students would be without internet connection and devices.

The Pine Cay Project responded to that information and has agreed to pay for internet for 30 days students, with its partner in the initiative, DigicelTCI.  It is an $18,000 investment in education continuity for hundreds of children.

“We had strong discussions on what we should do with the money that we collect every year, so yesterday we agreed to the funding in emergency situation of 300 internet connections and devices that are going to help the students in need, and we’re very proud to be able to act quickly,” Landel expressed.

Additionally, the Marketing Manager at Digicel TCI, Mr Drexler Smith, said Digicel has partnered with the Ministry of Education to provide about 1,000 tablets for public schools. Smith added that 75 MiFi devices valued at 7,000 dollars were provided; they come with free data services for up to three months for students in need.

Digicel has also created a special education plan for e-learning with specific zero-rated sites and applications. The company partnered with Pine Cay and other private entities in this regard. Various schools and educational facilities in South Caicos, Five Cays, and Providenciales have benefitted from laptops, data plans, MiFi’s, and e-learning kits.

Marketing Executive Flow TCI, Darron Hilaire, also shared the contributions Flow made to the education sector since the pandemic.

“Within the last three years, Flow TCI, through our charitable foundation, would have donated $130,000 worth of ICT equipment to 2 schools respectively in Grand Turk and in Providenciales for the outfitting of the new computer labs to help facilitate the ministry’s vision to foster an efficient e-learning environment for students,” he said.

Mr. Hilaire added that within the first year of the pandemic, Flow responded to requests from the Ministry to increase the bandwidth to public schools in the TCI. Hilaire said Flow home internet speed doubles automatically at no cost to its customers in early July.

He said that within the last 60 days, Flow TCI announced a recent donation of $25,000 dollars to two schools in North Caicos and one in Providenciales. The donation was in aid of increasing connectivity and infrastructural upgrades.

“As we come to the end of this phase of the project, our objective is to look at doing the same for other schools in the second phase of the projects to further arm our schools with the access to technology to provide the best quality education to students,” Hilaire added.

Amanyara Resort, not present at the press event, was said to be working on additional laptops for hundreds of children despite having already donated to several schools in Providenciales.

Minister Rachel Taylor and her team, including Eugene Grant, ICT Education Officer at the Ministry of Education and Mark Garland, Deputy Director of Education thanked the donors; they were labelled Platinum Partners by the Minister.

 

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Health

Government apologizes to Churches for NEW Covid-19 Testing rule

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#TurksandCaicos, January 15, 2022 – The TCI Government is apologizing for including the Church in a new raft of restrictions which mandates unvaccinated congregants be tested in order to be allowed to attend church events however, there is no change in the rule.  The rule is now delayed start for another two weeks following an announcement issued by the Ministry of Health on Thursday evening.

The apology came from Premier Washington Misick in a statement late Wednesday, where he apologized for bunching the church in with restaurants, lounges, bars and discotheques which also have to follow the regulation.

Church pastors speaking with Magnetic Media expressed shock at the announcement which was revealed, on Tuesday, as a cabinet approved decision which also includes mandatory testing for the unvaccinated to attend funerals.

While there has been no official statement from the Turks and Caicos Islands Christian Council or the Pastors Fraternity it was clear that some of the church community seemed prepared to stand firmly against the measure.

The Premier has promised that there will be consultation going forward; beckoning to Churches to comply with the temporary rule which he said would help to curb the latest surge of COVID-19 cases.

 

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