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.
CARICOM Sec Gen speaks on Gender Based Violence
“Everyone must continue to invest in preventing violence against our women and girls (VAWG). It is an investment in our shared future,” were the words of Dr. Carla N. Barnett, CARICOM Secretary-General, as she reiterated the need for solutions against VAWG.
She called attention to VAWG as she gave a speech surrounding the annual campaign “16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence,” which runs from November 25 to December 10, 2023.
Barnett expresses the well-known fact that VAWG is one of the most prevalent issues affecting all corners of society.
“VAWG remains one of the most pervasive forms of human rights violations in the world and cuts across all races, cultures, genders, and educational backgrounds,” she maintained, as she continued to point out the sad reality that this is still a major issue despite regional and global policies.
“Despite the existence of regional and global policies and legislation to combat VAWG, weak enforcement and discriminatory practices remain significant barriers to ending VAWG.”
The Secretary-General highlighted statistics for VAWG, bringing attention to how serious and embedded this issue is in society.
She said that globally, 736 million women—nearly one in three—have experienced violence—physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence, non-partner sexual violence, or even both.
For the Caribbean region, she said surveys conducted between 2016 and 2019 inform us that one in two women experience intimate partner violence, which is higher than the global average.
In continuation, Barnett expressed that the campaign calls everyone to action against VAWG, including “development partners, civil society organizations, women’s organizations, youth, the private sector, and the media.” Also, world governments are being asked to share how they are investing in gender-based violence prevention.
Ending her address, the Secretary-General urged everyone to wear the color orange for the duration of the campaign, as well as on the 25th of each month, “as a symbol of hope for a brighter future where women and girls live free from violence.”
Sea Patrol Vessels Approved by Cabinet, October 11 Meeting
#TurksandCaicos, November 25, 2023 – Her Excellency the Governor, Dileeni Daniel-Selvaratnam, chaired the 26th meeting of Cabinet on Wednesday, 11 October 2023 at the Governor’s Office, Providenciales.
All Members were present except the Hon. Josephine Connolly.
- Approved the Consultation Report on the Proposed Amendments to the Turks and Caicos Islands Immigration Ordinance with amendments and agreed for the amended document to be brought back to Cabinet for final approval for onward submission to the House of Assembly.
- Approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Turks and Caicos Islands Government (TCIG) and Geta Crew Holding Ltd. for a mixed use development project on the island of Grand Turk, with the view of entering into a Development Agreement as per the Encouragement of Development Ordinance and the National Investment Policy.
- Approved the renewal of rental lease agreement, for various Government offices, between TCIG and Waterloo Property Management, Grand Turk.
- Approved the awarding of the following contracts:
- PN 005694, TR 23/13, Furniture and Equipment for NJS Francis Building; and
- PN 005696, TR 22/10, Purchase of Patrol Vessels.
- It noted the update from Her Excellency the Governor regarding the upcoming visit of UK Ministers to the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Grand Turk Tourism Career & Entrepreneur Fair, Showcasing Jobs in the Industry
#TurksandCaicos, November 25, 2023 – The theme for Tourism Environmental Awareness Month is “Investing in Today for Tomorrow”. Students of the HJ Robinson High School in Grand Turk were given an opportunity on Tuesday, November 14th to learn about job opportunities in the tourism industry.
The students were part of the Tourism Career and Entrepreneurial Fair held at the Yellowman and Sons Auditorium. The career fair was the first of three that Experience Turks and Caicos is staging as part of Tourism Environmental Awareness Month. The other two will be held in South Caicos on November 21st and Providenciales on November 30th.
In her address, Minister of Tourism, the Honourable Josephine Connolly stressed that tourism is the biggest employer in the Turks and Caicos Islands and everything is related to the tourism industry.
“Over the past decade, we have enjoyed immense popularity. We have direct flights from the US every day, we have over 25 flights from the US into the Turks and Caicos Islands on a Saturday and sometimes on a Sunday. We have two direct flights from Europe, Virgin which started last Wednesday and we have British Airways twice a week. There are flights from Canada connecting us and we have flights connecting us in the Caribbean. We have Caicos Express and InterCaribbean,” she said.
“We have to prepare ourselves because we want our tourists to have the best experience from the time they arrive until the time they leave. The industry is changing, the skills are changing and it all matches what the travel and tourism industry needs.”
“Tourism accounts for a large percentage of the workforce and there are many other jobs and businesses that support the tourism industry like cleaning services, landscaping, banking, groceries, shipping companies, utility companies, lawyers and so many more. Although these organisations are not directly into tourism, tourism accounts for a significant portion of their business,” she said.
“Investing in Today for Tomorrow is not solely for economic growth but it is about investing in our environment, communities and most importantly investing in yourselves. Seek membership, acquire knowledge and never underestimate the power of perseverance.”
Also giving remarks was the Honourable Shaun Malcolm, Minister of Health and Human Services, who urged the students to take in everything they can learn.
“This is a great initiative. I had the privilege of working in the hotel industry, in the tourism industry for over 19 years so this is something that is very close and dear to my heart. The Minister of Tourism is working tirelessly every day to ensure that not only do we remain the envy of the Caribbean but that we bring our people along and I want you to know that we spent hours under her leadership as a Government working on improving every island and you will see in the not too distant future, many good things, big things coming to fruition. As the Minister said, Tourism is our business, it is our bread and basket and we don’t take that lightly,” he said.
In his remarks, Jamel Robinson, the Honourable Minister of Physical Planning and Infrastructure pointed out the careers that people would not normally associate with tourism.
“You have your firemen, you have your Airports Authority, you have Invest TCI, the police and many others, because we all work together to make that 85 percent of our GDP work for all of us,” he said, noting that his Ministry provides the support infrastructure to help the tourism industry in the Turks and Caicos to be the best in the world.
‘It signifies the importance of strategic value of decision making, recognizing the choices you make today directly impacts the future we are building for the generation to come. In the Turks and Caicos, a nation of pristine beaches, rich culture and warm hospitality, investing in today for tomorrow is not only sustaining our tourism industry but also ensuring its responsible growth. It involves equipping our future generation with the skill and knowledge to be stewards of our natural resources and ambassadors of our unique heritage,” he said.
The Tourism Career and Entrepreneurship Fair saw participation from a number of agencies and vendors. We would like to recognise and thank the following for their support: the TCI Community College, Beaches Resort, the Turks and Caicos Airport Authority, the Human Resource Management Directorate, the Royal Turks and Caicos Police Force, the Turks and Caicos Fire Services, the Department of Environmental Coastal Resources (DECR), Department of Maritime and Fisheries, Funtastic Tours, Splash Tours, Invest TCI, Blue Water Divers, Aunty Nanns, Tasty Treats and the Department of Tourism Regulations (DTR).
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