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Beaches Resort Turks & Caicos says ‘incompetence’ and ‘ineffectiveness’ prolonging closure

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#Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands – October 15, 2020 — Although vacation bookings for the October 14 opening of Beaches Resort Turks and Caicos were not through the roof, executives today explained it was not expected that they would be and the slow crawl of tourism amidst the coronavirus pandemic is absolutely not the reason the 700+ room resort has delayed its restart. 

Magnetic Media was aiming to ascertain if there could be alternative causes for the announcement of a delay just five days before the luxury family all-inclusive was expected to open its double gates to guests.

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Our probing, however, only unearthed more of the same; Beaches will not re-open to tourism until a four-year-old tax dispute is addressed.

“Breaches of our Development Agreement(s) and other legally binding commitments have yet to be resolved for nearly 4 years, despite tireless efforts by Beaches.  The Board of Directors has therefore mandated that the re-opening of Beaches be postponed,” said BTC in a statement on Friday, October 9.

Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart, Chairman of Sandals Resorts International which owns Beaches, has a high level executive team in country, hoping to end the stalemate.  Progress is however, slow going and this legal limbo is characterised as the worse experience Beaches Resort has ever encountered.

“Our team and the citizens of the TCIG deserve so much better from an elected government. Unfortunately, we must admit that this is the most ineffective Government we have ever had to deal with when compared to the other jurisdictions in which we operate. Our Development Agreement(s) and other legally binding written commitments have been disregarded and trampled on.”

Many residents are dumb-struck by the allegations.  Could government really be this irresponsible about untangling a fiscal mess with such a prominent investor and mammoth partner in tourism?

Beaches Craft Market day; Photo by Magnetic Media in February 2020

Five days later and no assurances are coming from the Ministry of Finance, which is led by Sharlene Robinson, the Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands.

It is a wait and see as the Turks and Caicos Islands Government (TCIG) has, since the disappointing announcement, been mute; having stated previously it prefers not to engage in a public row with the resort which employs 2,000 people; the largest employee complement in the private sector. 

Beaches Resort Turks and Caicos however, is less given to silence and is not playing coy; a new press statement issued today to Magnetic Media called the Government Administration incompetent.

“Beaches is told that the TCIG has been “working hard” to resolve the matter. If that is the case, then 4 years later it certainly appears to us that it is incompetence.”

This fiscal fiasco cannot be blamed on COVID-19.  The ongoing dispute does however deepen the already severely depressed Turks and Caicos economy. Turks and Caicos tourism, as a result of the unrelenting ravages of the pandemic on the travel industry, is forecast to fall by over 50 percent and that could worsen.

Hon Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart, Chairman, Sandals Resorts International

“Beaches empathises with the hardship being experienced by so many.  Commercial activity has been at a standstill since March of this year.  Time is of the essence for the TCIG to bring economic activity back to life to ensure the wellbeing and health of the citizens of the TCI who have suffered for far too long.  This continued inaction by the TCIG is so grave that Beaches would be irresponsible if we were to remain silent.”

Chairman Stewart, Magnetic Media is informed, was prepared to reopen Beaches Resort Turks and Caicos with the irregularly low bookings.  The expectation brought hundreds of staffers back to work at the start of the month in preparation for the first guests.  Team members we spoke to were happy, optimistic for the first time in a long time and they were not alone. 

Beaches Resort’s expansiveness brings buoyancy to the entire island of Providenciales and beyond – taxi drivers, retailers, grocers, craft market vendors other hotels, sister islands and the airlines are all happier when Beaches is open.

“As the anchor resort in the TCI, we can assure our incredible and dedicated team members together with the taxi association and the wider community that we remain committed to the Turks and Caicos Islands.  We continue to extend our hand in having this matter resolved fairly.”

Beaches responded to Magnetic Media with the explanation that the company is not trying to bully the government and regrets that it did not keep its promise to open on Wednesday.

Before the Covid-19 Pandemic crashed the travel and tourism industry; tourism was projected to surge beyond the 600,000 long stay visitor mark for Turks and Caicos. Photo by Magnetic Media in February 2020

“Beaches Resorts like so many others, looked forward to re-opening its doors on October 14, 2020. Sadly this did not take place despite every effort, humanly possible by our team to have these long outstanding matters resolved with the TCIG.  Beaches has been extremely clear for nearly 4 years, that it owes no taxes whatsoever. As such, there is no favour or forgiveness being sought from the TCIG.”

Beaches adds, they believe the matter related to the dispute about unpaid or over paid taxes could be resolved in a matter of days. 

Beaches Resort Villages & Spa in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos has given its new reopening date as November 18.

Finance

Three Days to NIB Rate Increase for 2023

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

 

#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.

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Caribbean News

TCI Police Detective Holden Speaks Up on Blue Hills Rapes

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Dana Malcolm  

Staff Writer  

 

 

#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.  

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Caribbean News

Louise Garland Thomas High School are TCISS Inter-High Track & Field 2023 Champions

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#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.

Overall results:

  •     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:

  1. Roniesha Johnson U-17 Girls CHHS
  2. Branary Delancy U-17 Girls LGTHS
  3. Krysann Williams U-20 Girls LGTHS
  4. Anesha Varus U-20 Girls CHHS
  5. Lynn Antoine U-20 Girls Unattached
  6. Chyna Simmons U-20 Girls BWIC
  7. Rayvon Black U-17 Boys Denbigh/Jam
  8. Renaldo Registre U-17 Boys RGHS
  9. Jarmal Missick U-17 Boys HJRHS
  10. Melique Evans U-17 Boys CHHS
  11. Love Joseph U-17 Boys LGTHS
  12. Kaeson Garland U-17 Boys MBHS
  13. Shamar Garland U-17 Boys HJRHS
  14. Alieandio Durham U-20 Boys CHHS
  15. Bernard Hyde U-20 Boys CHHS
  16. Markey Zepherin U-20 Boys CHHS
  17. Rayvon Walkin U-20 Boys KC/Jam
  18. Anthon Walkin U-20 Boys KC/Jam
  19. Alidavidson Higgs U-20 Boys JC/Jam
  20. Darvioun Rigby U-20 Boys Keiser/USA

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