By Deandrea Hamilton – October 25, 2020 — Why won’t the Turks and Caicos Islands Government just turn up at the table in the Beaches Resort dispute? There are so many solid reasons the Government should make every effort to confront the law suit and the claims.
The squabble had long ago gone public and why the wrangle rages on is concerning on many levels. Chief among them is that Beaches Resort is an investor and customer of the TCI Government, another is the fact if the Government is right about its position, the country stands to benefit fiscally to the tune of tens of millions of dollars from settlement of the suit.
Even the National Audit Office of the Turks and Caicos Islands is desperately worried about money managers and money management systems within the TCI Government.
The Auditor General, in the financial statements report for the year ending March 2018 made striking interpretations, candidly expressing in the Executive Summary that, “We remain extremely concerned about inaccurate financial reporting over 10 years or more of disclaimers or adverse audit opinions, weak financial controls…” the report also said: “Arrears have significantly increased over the last several years. Currently, there exists $165 million owed to TCIG…”
Frighteningly, these kinds of reveals not only punctuate but populate the report which is a public document, available at the National Audit Office website.
Government should act with haste given there are thousands of people dependent upon Beaches resort for their personal economies; hundreds of businesses which experience healthier earnings due to the over 70 percent of long stay arrivals Beaches Resort attracts; the myriad of taxes government gains due to the bustle of arrivals and commercial activity and one has to challenge whether the Government cares as much as it says it does given these factors.
Government-spun handouts to help are not going well amidst the pandemic. The country is cash-strapped and entered a recession 25 days ago.
Magnetic Media has fielded and published a variety of comments on the matter; many wish they did not know about this fiasco and all want it to stop. Basically, islanders tell us they want airlines to come back, tourists to come in and money to start making.
Should Beaches get away with paying its taxes? Certainly not! Now more than ever, Turks and Caicos needs that money, so how about someone actually making a move to get it.
It truly is a wonder why TCIG seems so complacent in gathering up these acorns for what economists predict will be a very, very long winter; and $26.5 million is a lot of acorns.
Beaches has delivered on some strong language which has elicited raised eyebrows, mine included. But I’ve had to ask myself are the characterisations really off-base?
Action speaks louder than words.
Bottom line, if we want to reignite the buoyancy of tourism in Turks and Caicos, which is hinged on this strategic alliance with Beaches Resort; I may have to reluctantly agree that the labels are hard but true.
Here is what the Auditor said: “The NAO is especially concerned now that since raising this audit issue over six years ago, millions in Capital Assets ($425 million and quite probably more) have not been properly accounted for. We are unsure as to what these amounts make up, where they are located, their condition and whether or not they will ever be accounted for.”
Residents have turned their anger about these characterisations upon the resort when more accurately, this is a time when TCI Government should not be allowed to get away with its lack of transparency and accountability this hundreds of millions of dollars the Auditor’s Report claims the country was owed up to the end of 2017-2018 fiscal year.
It is not okay that the TCI Government plugs along at virtually no pace regarding this matter, all the while earning an uninterrupted, full salary while thousands of personal incomes are cut, thousands are laid off, thousands are in need of socio-economic support and businesses have had to shut their doors.
Many families are valiantly struggling to make ends meet. Meanwhile, relevant leaders are on vacation. Able to take themselves away from the stresses brought on by the coronavirus, while, it seems intentionally escalating a matter instead of ‘handling’ it.
Maybe Government leaders did need that pay-cut. A slash in salaries over seven or eight months, as it has been for thousands of residents, may have fostered empathy and urgency.
But there is no pay cut for them and there is no urgency from them.
So, to the country leaders we note that there is time, though very little and there is ZOOM.
It would seem more in synch with the struggle of the residents in this season, if vacations were cut short or interrupted in order to give the Beaches Resort matter some undivided attention and equitable closure.
Bahamas and Turks & Caicos Immigration Ministers make appearance on TCI Radio Talk Show
By Dana Malcolm
#TheBahamas, November 25, 2022 – “We have a humanitarian concern of course but we can only absorb so much” was how Fred Mitchell, Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Public Service in The Bahamas addressed the issue of the UN constantly nudging Caribbean countries about the deportation of migrants and recommending that it not be done.
He was speaking Thursday November 24 with Cheryl and Zhavargo on First Edition which airs on RTC FM.
While acknowledging that the UN offices likely ‘have to do what they do’ Minister Mitchell explained that the current irregular migrants trying to get into the Bahamas did not fit the bill of ‘refugees’ as defined by the UN.
“We have a treaty obligation that says that if people have a fear of persecution in their home country that we have an obligation to take them in as asylum seekers. The people who come through on these boats from the south of us are not asylum seekers. They are afraid of poverty and that’s a difficult issue but in a legal sense we’re not obligated to embrace people on that basis.”
He cited a study that had found, on any given day there were around 7,000 illegal migrants in The Bahamas trying to get to the US maintaining that his chain of islands had to take a stand on the issue. The Foreign Affairs minister acknowledged that TCI was in an identical situation, citing also the the cultural effects of irregular migration.
“There is a cleavage which has developed in our own society over this; people are very concerned that we could lose our identity if we do not get on top of it.”
Earlier this year Arlington “new sheriff in town” Musgrove, Minister of Immigration and Border Services in the Turks and Caicos had described statements calling on surrounding countries to do more to assist persons fleeing Haiti as “reckless and misguided.”
“Haiti has a population of 11.6 million people. How could any small developing state like the Turks and Caicos Islands assist that number of people or even the smallest fraction of them? We have a population of some 47,000 persons, and our health care, education and other social systems remain fragile and could never withstand an influx of refugees. This would be a risk to our very own livelihood,” he had said.
He was interviewed in the same show on Thursday prior to Mitchell and expressed a similar determination to crack down on illegal migration.
“I want to stress this. If we catch anyone harbouring illegals, it could be my mommy, she’s going up. We cannot tolerate this. We’re catching the sloops so my Haitian brothers and sisters should stress to them don’t waste your money we’re sending you back.”
Turks and Caicos, this year passed a law, doubling fines and prison times for individuals harbouring illegal migrants.
Next Year, more courses, more staff, new location for TVET says Minister Taylor
By Dana Malcolm
#TurksandCaicos, November 25, 2022 – TVET offerings in the Turks and Caicos will definitely increase, especially for incarcerated people according to Minister of Education Rachel Taylor. Taylor was responding to queries from a resident about the limited course offerings in a Town Hall meeting on Monday November 21st.
“By next year you will see more programs being offered, not just at the prison, but also at the community college.” she said.
Mentioning that the Turks and Caicos Community College already offered courses like Commercial Food Preparation, Customer services as well as Electrical Engineering, but not some others like masonry, she said that the one thing they were working on was synchronizing courses between high schools and higher education.
“We will have to align the courses that are offered in high school also in the community college. Persons may not be aware but the Caribbean Vocational Qualification is actually level one of TVET, so when our students finish with the carpentry and the masonry and data entry, they can move into level two at the community college.”
In order to make that happen there are several things the government must do, she explained.
“Currently, we have to get onboard additional manpower at the community college [that] has already been budgeted.” She said that interviews were already taking place for adult learning assessment officers and a larger space at Alliance Business Plaza had been procured.
“We have recently purchased Club Pillows, which will be our new Turks and Caicos Islands Community College, which will provide us a better outlet to introduce additional courses.”
Referencing the new program geared towards inmates, she said, “The first phase of the MOU is the introduction of the Commercial Food Preparation and Customer services so we will definitely increase the offerings. We will have that dialogue with the inmates in terms of the — kind of training they would want to receive.”
Increased TVET offerings had been one of the major requests from young people during a recent youth survey. The Bahamas Technical Vocational Institute has also been flown into the TCI to consult and help broaden the offerings provided in the technical, vocational programme.
Claudine Ewing Appointed CEO of United Way TCI
November 25, 2022 – United Way Turks and Caicos is pleased to reintroduce Ms. Claudine Ewing as our Chief Executive Officer.
Inciting change and promoting growth are major attributes of one that leads a Nonprofit Organization; attributes that is regularly exhibited by Ms. Ewing, who was among the founding leaders of this 4 years old Non-profit Organization, she held the post of Executive Director for 2 years and was able to incite change and growth for many young people through our various programs and initiatives. During the severe period of Covid she was forced to leave, to become a caregiver for her parents who demanded much of her time.
However, her love for philanthropic work always held a place in her heart and she knew that one day she needed to continue on the path of changing the lives of young people for the betterment of our country.
Ms. Ewing’s ability to be a creative thinker, forge relationships with community partners, promote volunteerism, leverage the community to be consistent and get involved, are just some of the qualities that she bring to this role in such crucial times to strengthen the fabric of our community.
Ms. Ewing said “ I’m excited to be back on the team and even more excited to get our program initiatives back up and running, with creative ideas and community conversations that will have everyone engaged. “
Chairman of the Board, Mr. Mark Fulford said “As a Board we are please to pledge our support to our Executive Director Ms. Claudine Ewing. We encourage the community to get involve, as we reignite our Program Initiatives and continue to forge relationships with fellow Non-profits to have a greater impact in our community”.
About United Way Turks and Caicos:
United Way Turks & Caicos was established in 2018 by a group of Turks and Caicos Islands business leaders, together along with an established international donor. Our vision for ‘giving back’ and contributing to society is aligned with United Way World wide’s mission and values. This was the driving force behind the desire to replicate the success of the United Way model in the Turks & Caicos Islands. United Way Turks & Caicos Islands is comprised of 15 Board Directors within diverse sectors of our society and business community.
Together we set the goals for UWTCI and envision a community where all individuals and families achieve their human potential through Education. Our Mission is to improve lives by cultivating and inspiring the caring power of the community to advance the common good of all which is being executed by an Executive Director and Staff supported by hundreds of volunteers.
Contact info: 6493334545
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