Mr. Speaker, Ministerial Colleagues, Colleagues on the other side, my good people of the great constituency of Five Cays, South Dock, and Chalk Sound, those listening via Radio Turks and Caicos and the World Wide Web, my fellow Turks and Caicos Islanders, a pleasant good morning.
Mr. Speaker, the Turks and Caicos Islands like the rest of the world is facing one of the most challenging health threats ever experienced in our Country’s history. This pandemic is unchartered waters for us Mr. Speaker, but thanks to the swift and decisive steps taken by my government over the past month, we have been able to mitigate most of the major potential fallout for our people thus far.
I wish at this time to register my profound thanks and appreciation to the Minister of Health and his team, as the leading agency in this fight, along with all our essential workers, inclusive of those persons working at the supermarkets, gas stations, banks and anyone else out there throughout the Turks and Caicos Islands, for their commitment and dedication to the health, safety, and wellbeing of our people.
Please know that your dedication to duty has not gone unnoticed and we salute you. Mr. Speaker, I must also publicly state how proud I am to be apart of this team, led by our Premier. Her steady hand, decisive actions and her willingness to seek counsel has proven to be just what this country needs, at this time. Mr. Speaker, I am today even more proud to be a Turks and Caicos Islander.
Mr. Speaker, as I rise to make my contribution to my Government’s 2020/2021 National Budget and to echo my support, I do so with a sense of pride and gratitude to the constituents and residents of my communities of Five Cays, South Dock and Chalk Sound, and indeed the entire Turks and Caicos Islands, who, just over three years ago, gave my government a clear mandate to govern these ‘Beautiful by Nature Turks and Caicos Islands’. Mr. Speaker, we do not take the trust and confidence that the people have put in us lightly and we will continue to do what we believe is in the best interest of all our people.
Mr. Speaker allow me to now give an account of my stewardship as Deputy Premier and of the Ministry of Infrastructure, Housing, Planning and Development and outline our plans for this financial year.
For the past year, my team and I have worked assiduously to ensure that the Government’s infrastructural development agenda is successfully implemented in a timely, efficient, and cost-effective manner. Mr. Speaker, I am grateful for my team’s efforts as they continue to rise to the challenge and deliver.
Mr. Speaker, like previous years, the Ministry of Infrastructure will not only have its own set of priority areas, but will continue to support the Capital Programs for all Ministries and Government departments.
The engine that drives our Capital Program Mr. Speaker, is the Public Works Department, so I will begin here.
Having undergone a comprehensive change program, Mr. Speaker, the Public Works Department remains the Government’s main source of technical i.e. (Engineering, Architectural and Maintenance) expertise. The department continues to provide advice on costing, design, project management, and maintenance services, throughout government as well as managing the full slate of construction related Capital Projects.
Mr. Speaker, even in the absence of two critical positions, our Project Management Division contributed to the successful implementation of the Government’s development portfolio. Before I go into some of the highlights in this area, let me say how happy I am for the additional staff that will be hired as a result of the passage of this budget. Mr. Speaker, we will be adding to our team, in the Project Management Unit, a Structural Engineer and a Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing Engineer, two Civil Engineers, two Project Managers and additional support staff. We welcomed these key additions to our staff complement.
Mr. Speaker, during the 2019/20 FY, this good PDM government tendered a total of 35 projects to the tone of $17.8M. Of that number, My Speaker, 32 projects reached valuation stage and were noted in Cabinet as of March 31, 2020 the end of the financial year.
Seven (7) projects were executed and have commenced with a total budget of US$2.48M namely:
- Governor Residence, Grand Turk –
- Regatta Village, South Caicos – $198,903.87
- Booster Pump House Repairs, GDT – $49,942.50
- Dean’s Tank Repairs, Salt Cay – $57,114.15
- R.O. Plant Repairs, Salt Cay – $20,353.47
- Morgue for South Caicos – $198,000.00
- Repairs to Police Buildings Grand Turk Police Station – $482,370.38
Mr. Speaker, another seven (7) projects are at the execution stage and will commence with a total budget of US$6.593M.
- Repairs to Police Buildings Marine
Branch Office, Grand Turk – $293,332.84
- Repairs to Police Buildings, South Caicos Police Station – $432,868.70
- New Block for H.J. Robinson High School, Grand Turk – $2,022,618.35
- Consultancy for Construction of New Government Office Complex, Providenciales – $645,005.65
- Refurbishment of NJS Francis Building, Grand Turk $2,699,575.60
- Rehabilitation of Salt Shed, Salt Cay – $116,358.80
- DECR Building, Providenciales – $383,967.38
While the other eighteen (18) are being finalized by CCPMU and will be forwarded to PWD for execution shortly.
- Road Development Phase 5 – $2,654,757.75
- Madeira Way, Blue Hills
- Rigby Hill Road, Five Cays
- Sand Bar Street, Five Cays
- Lantern Way/Snake Hill Sub-Division, Blue Hills
- South Dock HWY section, Five Cays (From Fortis Roundabout to Five Cays Junction)
- New Block, Enid Capron Primary School -New Block Enid Capron Primary School – $2,060,000.00
- New Roof, Ianthe Pratt Primary School New Roof for Ianthe Pratt Primary School – $1M
- Conversion of PWD Building into Specialist Classroom for Adelaide Oemler Primary School – $175,000
- Boat Ramps Blue Hills – $71,226.88
- Boat Ramps Five Cays – $75,840.57
- Rehabilitation of Wharf – South Caicos Rehabilitation of Wharf – South Caicos – $450,000
- Equipment for PWD Community Signs – $100,590.17
- Improvement to Fish Fry Site Improvement to Fish Fry Site – $650,000
- Tourism Product Enhancement Program Tourism Product Enhancement Program – $660,000
- Domestic Port Restoration and Enhancement – Heaving Down Rock – $400,000
- Farmer Market Provo – $600,000
- Basketball Courts and Sporting Facilities – $300,000 (4 Lots, four separate contracts)
- Leeward Palms Green Park – $100,000
- Chalk Sound Green Park – $496,610.00
Mr. Speaker, coming out of this budget my Ministry will be managing 11 projects at a value of $10.6M for this financial year. Included in this list are:
- Backup Generators for all Government Essential Facilities – $1,896,000. Hurricanes shelters, detention center etc…
- Heavy Equipment for PWD- $600,000, road sweeper and equiptment to assist in hurricane restoration and cleanup.
- Vehicles for Government- $982,000, across a number of departments.
- Treasury Building GDT – $1,800,000
- Road Development Phase 6 – North Caicos- $2,000,000
- Blue Hills Craft Market – $650,000
- Upgrade of Public Tank – XSC- $750,000
- Reconstruction of Matthew Canal, Salt Cay – $450,000
- Consultancy Framework Agreement – $450,000, hiring of specialized expertises.
- Redevelopment of Five Cays Community Centre – $150,000
- Road Redevelopment Front Street GDT -$900,000
Mechanical Services Division
Mr. Speaker, under the Capital Program Phase Three, replacement vehicles, which included Minister’s vehicles, are all on island and have been cleared.
- Replacement vehicle Phase 3 K9 Unit.
This project is currently in contract stage.
- Replacement Vehicle Phase 3
This project is currently in evaluation stage.
- Farm Equipment – Heavy Equipment for preparing farm land.
This project is currently in evaluation stage.
Mr. Speaker, the Department of Planning continues to fulfil its mandate to facilitate sustainable national development in the Turks and Caicos Islands through effective land use planning and regulations, thereby ensuring the optimal utilization of our limited land resources. The Department has been quite busy during the last financial year:
- Processing a vast number of residential and commercial planning applications,
- Hosted a number of consultation meetings with developers.
- Inspections of Liquor, Business & Tobacco License sites.
- Illegal Development training, and seminars were conducted. Investigations, monitoring and enforcement activities were carried out. Mr. Speaker, these enforcement activities resulted in the department issuing over $100K in fines.
Mr. Speaker, another key achievement of the Department is the Amendment to the Physical Planning Ordinance which allows the Physical Planning Board to delegate authority to the Director of Planning, to approve the following minor development applications.
- Residential Planning Applications,
- Planning Applications to Display signs,
- Planning Application to erect boundary walls of more than three (3) feet six (6) inches high to a maximum six (6) feet
- The Subdivision of land of 6 parcels of less.
Mr. Speaker, applicants will no longer have to wait on the monthly scheduled PPB meetings for all types of applications to be processed. The benefit of this change is the ability to offer a fast-track service, thereby reducing the backlog of applications and reduction of the number of applications tabled at each board meeting. However, Mr. Speaker, should the Director refuse an application for development, the recommendation of such refusal will be submitted in writing to the board for consideration, and they will make a determination. Mr. Speaker, you would remember that this amendment was passed on Monday.
Preparation of the new National Physical Development Plan
Mr. Speaker, the working sessions of the EDSA Consultancy Team (who are preparing the National Physical Development Plan) began in January.
Ten members of EDSA visited the country in January and February of this year, as part of phase one, the data gathering phase and held a series of informative meetings with department heads and other relevant agencies involved in the preparation of the Plan. The team is expected back in country as soon as it is safe to travel.
Mr. Speaker, additional funding has been secured in the capital program, for the extension of the project coordinator and for the consultants, to prepare three (3) additional area development plans which is inclusive of Blue Hills. The contract for the National Physical Development Plan will expire end of October 2020.
Mr. Speaker, the Department has lost the services of the Deputy Director therefore, we will be recruiting for that position as soon as practical.
Mr. Speaker, the Department is actively involved in a number of major development projects which include:
- South Bank Development – In Long Bay, Condominiums, Marina, private Villas and Restaurant
- Andaz Hotel Development Outline Development Permission recently completed public Consultation for their EIA and is expected to submit Detailed Development Permission in the upcoming months.
- Ritz Carlton continues to progress and is about 40% completed; expected completion date is December 2021.
- The dredging of the North Caicos channel was recently approved, and works should commence shortly.
- Submissions of Windsong Hotel Development Phase two, off Grace Bay Beach which will be considered within the next two months.
I now turn my attention to Estates Management, Mr. Speaker, the Estates Management Department continues to lead in the identification and negotiation of suitable rental accommodations, manage Government Security contracts, as well as Government owned properties. This department is also responsible for the cleaning of all government properties and is currently in the process of preparing to privatize this service with continued oversight by this department.
During the 2019/20 Financial Year, the department successfully negotiated a number of new leases and led in relocations for:
- Social Development in Providenciales
- Public Works Department, Providenciales
- Road Safety Department, Grand Turk
- Accountant General Department, Grand Turk
- Kew Clinic into its new location.
We were also able to receive Cabinet approvals for the relocation of:
- Public Works Department, Grand Turk
- Domestic Fire Service, Providenciales.
- Library Service, Providenciales.
- Ministry and Department of Education, Providenciales.
- Ministry and Department of Education, Grand Turk.
- CITU (Computer Unit), Grand Turk.
Mr. Speaker, the department also engages in a number of activities geared towards promoting health and safety, and in this regard, a number of fire drills have been completed in Government schools. This will continue in the new financial year and will be extended to other government departments as well.
Mr. Speaker, we will be looking to complete several new leases and relocations for:
- Consolidation of Judicial Administration, Providenciales
- Police Headquarters, Providenciales
- Immigration, Customs and Road Safety Departments in their new location.
Mr. Speaker the department is preparing for the proposed consultancy for the Estate and Security Policies. Completion of these documents will enable TCIG to see great oversight with respect to the Estate and providing security services in general.
Mr. Speaker, with our team of hard-working, dedicated officers, the Office of the Deputy Premier and Ministry of Infrastructure, Housing, Planning and Development will continue its thrust towards providing strategic direction, policy, planning and administrative support to the development structure in the TCI.
Mr. Speaker, while we have suffered some delays in the recruitment of a director for this department, which inadvertently caused a delay in the full setting up and launch of this department, Mr. Speaker, I am committed to getting this department up and running as a matter of urgency. I will keep the country up to date on its progress.
Mr. Speaker, permit me to say a few words to my good people of Five Cays, South Dock and Chalk Sound. The voters of these communities are the reason that I am here serving in this honourable House. Many of the residents who have been on this journey with me, from the time I entered politics can attest that every time I offered myself to represent them, I have always prepared a Manifesto for my constituency. Mr. Speaker, the focus of my previous manifestos incorporated the ideas, vision, the hopes, and dreams of my constituents. Over the years, all this developed into a visionary concept I refer to as Operation Facelift.
Mr. Speaker, anyone familiar with my campaign has heard me consistently mention Operation Facelift. The roads, the upgrades to the community center, the primary health care offering, and the Five Cays Beautification projects are just some of the components of Operation Facelift. I have made commitments to my constituents and I will continue to work tirelessly until all commitments are delivered.
Mr. Speaker, Operation Facelift has several components, and I can proudly state that I have been busy addressing each of these components from my first year elected as the Deputy Premier and a Minister of Government. You see Mr. Speaker, as I prepare each budget address, I remember sitting in this Honourable House during the years 2012-2016, as a member of the opposition during budget sessions, and noting that Year after Year after Year after Year, that Five Cays was neglected by the former PNP Government. That is four years I mentioned Mr. Speaker. As I had said before Mr. Speaker, every Government, if they are fortunate enough to serve their full term, has 4 budgets to bring to the House of Assembly. Records will show that my constituency of Five Cays was never deemed important enough by the former PNP administration to be included in any of their 4 budgets they passed from 2012-2016.
Therefore Mr. Speaker, when the wonderful and hard-working voters of Five Cays demonstrated their confidence in me, and the PDM party on December 15, 2016, on a mandate of change. Mr. Speaker, I can truly say things have changed and continuing to change for the better, in Five Cays!
Mr. Speaker, I knew that this was my opportunity to address the pleas for better infrastructure, better image, to fix long existing problems for years, that my constituents wanted addressed. I represented all these areas as a former member of the opposition to the deaf ears of the former PNP administration. Mr. Speaker, these last 3 years and 4 months, I have been doing the work that the people of constituency sent me here to do. In my first year I resurfaced the road to sandbar street with grading works, and in partnership with a corporate citizen was able to beautify the entrance into Five Cays Proper and Chalk Sound by having proper landscaping installed around the Welcome Signs that I installed in those areas during my time in opposition. Mr. Speaker, I must state that the welcome to Five Cays sign has became the gold standard as I have seen this design used for various signs throughout the Grand Turk communities and soon will be prevalent in communities throughout Providenciales.
Mr Speaker, during last year’s Budget address, I told my constituents that three of their roads were going to be paved, namely the road to the radar station, Granny Hill, and Matilda way. Mr. Speaker, I can stand here today and state those roads are 99.9% completed. In addition to those roads, I have addressed a long-standing issue on South Dock Highway where water use to settle resulting in many accidents over the years and tragically the loss of life. That has now been fixed.
Mr Speaker, with support from the Ministry of Health, the Mobile Clinic has a schedule where they visit my community and address the basic health needs of residents requiring their services. We also have persons cleaning the community streets and regular pickups of the garbage.
Mr. Speaker, the items I have listed so far has resulted in more tourist venturing into Five Cays, more investment into my community by Turks and Caicos Islanders. More entrepreneurs like Katz Kitchen, Papa Cardi, Omar’s beach Hut, and Stephanie’s Kitchen offering their delicious meals. The local economy in Five Cays is on an upward trend. Mr. Speaker, this year’s budget continues to build on the last 3 years and 4 months initiatives. I have many residents reaching out to me asking when will their roads be paved ,and when will they have more street lights, and the simple answer is, as different phases of Operation Facelift continues to be rolled out, every area of Five Cays will be addressed.
Mr. Speaker, the projects for my constituency this year is a continuation of projects being delivered under Operation Facelift. Mr. Speaker, this good PDM government have already spent millions in Five Cays, South Dock and Chalk Sound the last three plus years and will be spending another $3M this year on projects such as:
- Roads – includes
- the area around the end of the airport, from the Fortis Roundabout to the Entrance of Five Cays
- Rigby Hill
- Sand Bar Street
- Five Cays Cemetery Entrance Wall – $20K
- New Block for Enid Capron Primary School – $1.9M
- A Boat Ramps for our local fishermen – $60K
- Chalk Sound Green Park $500K – Mr. Speaker, the residents of Chalk Sound and Silly Creek will be happy to hear, the land has been identified and the architectural work has been completed and tender has now been awarded.
- Roads – includes
- Jetty for the Felix Morley Community Center. – $150K
- Sapodilla Bay Beach Access Development
- Additional Road maintenance works $150K
Mr. Speaker, I will continue work to fulfill all the phases of Operation Facelift and listen to the suggestions of my constituents to ensure we together continue to improve the image and quality of life in our communities.
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank you for your time, My Premier for her continued trust and confidence in me, the good people of my constituency for their continued support, and to all the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands. I end my contribution to this budget with the words “We have great challenges and great opportunities ahead, and with your help, we will meet them and make the story of this year a proclamation of the strength of our people, the resilience of our country and a testament of steady, progressive, visionary leadership of the People Democratic Movement. Mr. Speaker, we will make this year our best year.
May God continue to guide us and keep us safe and may he forever continue to bless these our Turks and Caicos Islands.