#Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands – September 13, 2020 — Thousands of households in Turks and Caicos will benefit from a new stimulus grant program rolled out by the country’s premier and finance minister on September 10.
“Today I am pleased to announce the launch of a new stimulus grant program to attempt to address the economic fall-out resulting from the pandemic, the Turks and Caicos government has re-apportioned or reclassified $5m in stimulus grant that were appropriated in April 2020,” said Sharlene Robinson during a press conference at the Office of the Premier.
Three hundred taxi drivers; 9,700 workers and 11,000 households are expected to benefit from the stimulus suite featuring cash payments, unemployment benefits and food assistance.
“$4.5 million will now be made available in direct assistance to employees that would have been impacted during the national lockdown in the Turks and Caicos islands during the period march to June 2020; it is being proposed that these individuals will be given a one off payment of $600,” explained the Premier in her statement broadcast live on national radio and over social media.
The Premier shared the criteria for eligibility will be revealed later and informed native Turks and Caicos Islanders, who benefited from the first wave in stimulus payouts, would be able to apply for support once again.
“If you would have received a first stimulus, you would only need to provide proof and not necessary for you to through the entire process of providing documents again.”
Previously all hospitality workers – indigenous and expatriate – were deemed eligible for $1,200 government cash assistance. Taxi drivers and other public service vehicle license holders were not included but are now singled out for government cash support.
“Half a million dollars has now been made available for a separate stimulus program for persons operating within the public service vehicle license sector; this included eligible operators in the community cab, taxi and private transfer vehicle category,” the Premier added, “This will certainly assist the taxi drivers who have been waiting for their stimulus to be offered and to be approved.”
Taxi drivers had protested in July; demanding inclusion in the stimulus payouts. Many of the drivers were either not registered with the National Insurance Board, NIB or had sizable arrears. Efforts to bypass these restrictive requirements were stalled. The Premier and Finance Minister, last Thursday delivered the welcoming news following a decision by Cabinet.
“We will be opening that stimulus program back up, for persons to apply,” explained the Premier who, on Thursday repeated that details of distribution of the funds were to be announced.
Acknowledgement of the traditionally slow tourism season, the usually busy hurricane season and the unprecedented impact of the coronavirus pandemic even on back to school, has not been lost of the government, shared Mrs. Robinson.
“Your government has identified approximately 11,000 households within the Turks and Caicos Islands; identified by parcel and head of household for this program,” it was added that, “This program will be led under the Office of the Premier, Local Government and Community Affairs who will provide further information on the temporary food program.”
It is a temporary program, approved by the TCI Cabinet, which will support households nationwide.
During the press conference, which welcomed media via ZOOM, Premier Robinson announced an unemployment and under employment benefit scheme to come for the Turks and Caicos workforce through the NIB.
The NIB has approved $4.2 million for eight weeks of unemployment benefit payments.
“Contributors would have had to have a minimum of 250 or five years of contributions with special provisions for Turks and Caicos Islanders and PRC holders, the applicant must either have been laid off or terminated as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The proposed benefit rate is fifty percent of the individuals’ average weekly, insurable earnings and is payable for an initial period of eight weeks or until the exhaustion of the $4.2 million.”
The NIB fund is expected to support 2,200 workers.
Polio is back; 65 million missed shots in another COVID fall out
By Dana Malcolm
#USA, August 4, 2022 – For the first time in almost a decade a new case of polio was recorded in the United States. The case which ended in paralysis emphasizes the danger the region faces as vaccination levels drop to 30-year lows.
The World Health Organization warned in early July explained that vaccination in the region of the Americas and the rest of world was dropping rapidly because of various spin off effects precipitated by the Coronavirus Pandemic.
Over 65 million infants missed out on basic vaccines in the last three years thanks to disruptions in routine healthcare, lockdowns and other circumstances. The effects are already being felt as once eradicated disease like measles and polio are once again emerging.
The Pan American Health Organization announced earlier this year the Americas are now facing another measles outbreak after having been declared free of the disease in 2016.
Dr. Jarvis Barbosa, Assistant director of PAHO said vaccination levels are now as low as they were in 1994 for measles and polio and Brazil has had several outbreaks of measles.
In the case of the United States an unvaccinated young adult developed the disease after contact with another individual vaccinated with a live version of the vaccine.
The breakout polio case in the US sent shockwaves across the country because of the severe nature of the disease. Polio is an extremely dangerous disease with no known cure. It causes paralysis in as many as 1 in 200 infected and that paralysis is permanent.
Normally very few school age children would be at risk in the Americas as the vaccine is required to start school but with the gap in vaccinations many more children are now at risk.
Polio was one of the most feared diseases of the 20th century, paralyzing and killing hundreds of thousands, especially children. Thankfully vaccinated individuals are not at risk and as such the WHO is advising that the best way to protect against polio is vaccination.
Photo Caption: Child in Benin takes Polio vaccine, UNSDG
New Rules for Turks & Caicos JPs
By Dana Malcolm
#TurksandCaicos, August 5, 2022 – Rules governing Justices of the Peace in the Turks and Caicos are now significantly stricter after the passing of the amendment to the Magistrates Amendment Bill in July 2022.
Despite the fact that Justices of the Peace are allowed the same powers as a magistrate previously the only requirement for their appointment was the discretion of the Governor and that they be under 65-years-old.
Justices of the peace have always by law been allowed to receive complaints, sign charges and issue warrants for the apprehension of persons charged with criminal offenses. They can also issue search warrants summons and administer oaths.
Considering the potentially unchecked execution of these powers, the attorney general’s chambers lobbied for a change in the system.
“These are very wide powers and there is no framework for the supervision and regulation of the whole of justices of the peace in the Turks and Caicos Islands.”
The amendment rectified this and the Chief Justice now has the power to make binding rules and regulations governing the appointment of JPs, a code of conduct disciplinary action and orientation and periodic training for JPs.
In addition, to maintain separation of powers the governor will be stripped of the power to disallow laws made by resident magistrates. That power now belongs to the Chief Justice.
Rhondalee Braithwaite-Knowles, TCI Attorney General maintained that the amendment was short but necessary.
Young People in TCI are having sex, Rapport wants to ensure they’re doing it safe
By Deandrea Hamilton & Dana Malcolm
#TurksandCaicos, August 5, 2022 – Young people in the Turks and Caicos are very sexually active and while there are no concrete statistics, the newest members of the Rapport all said “Yes” to the question about whether there is rampant sexual activity.
“As a young person I totally agree that they are having a lot of sex,” Arean Louis said.
This is particularly concerning given wider statistics point to a very young age group which is still contracting HIV/Aids.
“Caribbean statistics are showing that between the ages of 15 and 25 those have the highest amount of HIV rates.”
Young adult members of Rapport TCI all agree that youth in the TCI must be made aware of HIV and other STIs. Arean Louis, Denae Dennie and Arielle Neely spoke to Magnetic Media on their way to the International AIDS Conference.
All three agreed that our young people are having a lot of sex.
“I would say that our young people are having sec the only thing that I would say is I hope that they are letting their partners know their sexual history, their status, and that they’re being safe.” Dennie said.
Louis added, “As we talk about HIV and AIDS in the Turks and Caicos Islands we most definitely need to bring awareness to our young people because there is no set age— kids nowadays just like to experiment.”
He stressed safe sex, using protection and abstinence to maintain sexual health.
“What we aim to do is keep them safe here, we’re tired and we don’t want to see anymore STD and STI new cases in the Turks and Caicos.”
Dennie says she still thinks there is fear surrounding HIV but with education and protection, the world can get to zero new cases and it was something she was looking forward to.
The final member Arielle Neely explained that there were not enough tools and resources to educate youth.
“There are not enough tools or enough record to educate them. Our parents think they’re doing a good job by telling us don’t have sex but telling us don’t have sex isn’t enough. You have to teach us about birth control planned parenthood.”
The three members had high hopes for Rapport and stressed that they need more members to make an effective change on sexual health in the TCI.
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