#Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands – October 18, 2020 — For those on the front line of environmental protection and preservation, the Turks and Caicos Islands Government is moving too rapidly toward creating legislation which allows petroleum or oil exploration in TCI waters and on TCI land; over 600 people have so far signed a petition to extend the time and improve the consultation process.
In a poorly promoted process, residents of the Turks and Caicos Islands are asked to comment on the legislation which remains unavailable at the government’s website.
On October 1 the invitation for public consultation was issued by email and posted to the TCI government website. The consultation process was due to expire on October 14 according to the notice issued by the Department of Energy & Utilities of the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Many question whether there is any real interest in public input when there was no public education, no public or official announcement about the consideration of oil exploration and when the Bill is nowhere to be found.
The Turks and Caicos Reef Fund, in a letter to authorities, made a case against the rapid pace and missing information toward the consultation process of such an environmentally invasive and potentially damaging industry.
“Firstly, two weeks is not a sufficient amount of time to allow for true public consultation and understanding of the proposed Bill. Furthermore, there is no copy of the Draft Bill available for download anywhere on the Government’s website. Only through multiple contacts working together was I able to get a copy of the Draft Bill. Without access to the information, there is no ‘public consultation’. I am now aware that it was printed in the recent copy of the Weekly News which was published on the 10th October, giving anyone who purchased the paper 4 days to digest the Bill.”
The Turks and Caicos Reef Fund also believes the Bill, if one gets their hands on a copy, is difficult to digest.
“I have some top notch environmental lawyers reading the bill and making comments so that we the people can understand. TCIG should give us a digestible version of the Bill as, I’m not a lawyer and it’s a dense 43 page document! The stakeholders are fishermen and people working in watersports, I doubt they can understand this document either.”
The draft legislation called: Petroleum Exploration and Exploitation Bill 2020, essentially outlines what will be permitted to happen, who is allowed to enter the market and who will manage the industry.
Specifically the draft says: “This Ordinance applies to activities for and associated with the search for and recovery of petroleum in the territorial waters, exclusive economic zone, continental shelf and land of the Islands.”
A Commissioner, as is stated in the draft, will govern the industry with six key functions. Some of those functions are: “to consider and determine applications for licences; (b) monitor licensees and determine whether licensees are in compliance with the terms and conditions of the licences and this Ordinance and (c) to monitor the effectiveness of the Ordinance and any Regulations in providing for the supervision and regulation of the activities undertaken by the licensees within the islands to internationally accepted standards…” – Excerpt from draft Petroleum Exploration and Exploitation Draft Bill 2020.
Concerns may be calmed by the fact that the draft explicitly states, the exploration process does not include drilling and no exploration can take place in areas protected under the National Parks Ordinance.
Still, the distribution, access and mixed messages linked to the consultation on the draft law is sloppily done.
“Currently, as of mid-day on the 13th October 2020, there is an update on gov.tc stating that public consultation has been extended by a week. The information however is incongruous as it now says that there is a two-week on-line consultation from 1st October to 21st October, 2020 (this is a three-week period) whilst also saying that consultation has been extended by one week to the 21st November, 2020. This extension of time for public consultation has no meaning if the Draft Bill is not available and consultation meetings aren’t happening.”
The TC Reef Fund has reminded the Ministry of Home Affairs of best practices when it comes to consultation by outlining the guidance for conducting meaningful public consultation as crafted by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a recognized authority on environmental assessment and public consultation.
Among the eight actions shared with TCIG’s Ministry of Home Affairs are: identification and engagement with key stakeholder groups; provision of a workable strategy and timeframe to the public for the proposed project; provision of available information to give background of the proposal and a public information campaign which ensures affected people are aware and have sufficient time to respond.
Consultation should make the effort to reach out to specialty groups including women, vulnerable and religious groups and the process should include public meetings and hearings, surveys and polls and in the end, reflect the concerns of the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands.
TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS POST CABINET MEETING STATEMENT
#TurksandCaicos, June 25, 2022 – Her Excellency the Acting Governor, Anya Williams, chaired the 19th meeting of Cabinet on Wednesday 22 June 2022 in Grand Turk. All other members were present.
At this meeting Cabinet:
- Approved the terms and conditions for an application from a land surveyor for a licence.
- Approved the making of the Revised Edition of the Laws 2021 (Commencement Order) 2022 subject to the approval of the House of Assembly; laws will be now be made available free of charge to members of the public on the Attorney General’s website. Physical reproductions will continue to be sold.
- Discussed proposed amendments to the Insurance Ordinance as drafting instructions to the Attorney General’s Chambers and consultation with the industry.
- Approved for the Insurance (Amendment) Bill 2022 to be introduced to the House of Assembly as soon as possible.
- Approved the revision of the Anti-Money Laundering Committee Budget for the Financial Year 2022/2023 for office furniture and supplies; confirmed annual payments for the annual membership costs to the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Agencies (FIA) and annual costs of the FIA’s travel costs for the Egmont annual meeting.
- Approved a three year rental lease agreement for the relocation of the Ministry of Tourism, Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, Culture and Heritage, Agriculture, religious Affairs and Gaming, and the Tourist Board and Department of Culture in Providenciales.
- Approved a lease agreement for a temporary HQ for the Turks & Caicos Islands Regiment in Providenciales.
- Was updated on the proposed merger of NIB/NHIP Compliance and Collections. Further consideration was requested before Cabinet can take a decision.
- Noted the award of the following contracts in line with the provisions of the Public Procurement Ordinance:
- PN 005600, TR 21/48, Furniture and equipment for Mental Health Facility – Grand Turk
- PN 005611, TR 21/30, Ballistic Vests for the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force
III. PN 005614, TR 21/37, Bellefield Landing Civilian Safety Project – Safe Boat Slips
- PN 005627, TR 21/53, Furniture and Equipment for Public Works Programme Management
- PN 005630, TR 21/08, Vehicles for Government (resubmission)
- Approved for a request from American Airlines to waive the import customs duties and customs processing fees for replacement parts for an aircraft that had an emergency landing on Providenciales to be forwarded to the House of Assembly for consideration and approval.
- Noted a paper from the Turks and Caicos Islands Airports Authority (TCIAA) for legislative amendments to be made to the TCIAA Ordinance to regulate industrial action by employees of the TCIAA. Cabinet requested further consideration. Proposed amendments will be considered by the House of Assembly for approval in due course.
- Approved the grant of a long lease to an applicant for a funeral home and cemetery on 60003/231 PT (2.5 ACRES)
Turks & Caicos Islands Government retains it BBB+ credit rating
#TurksandCaicos, June 25, 2022 – On the 29th of March 2022, Standard and Poor’s Global (S&P) released the results of the review of the 2021 sovereign credit rating for the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI). S&P has affirmed the country’s sovereign credit rating for long-term bonds, denominated in both domestic and foreign currency, of BBB+. Additionally, the agency also maintained the outlook as Stable for the TCI.
The Rating Agency advised that the stable outlook takes into account that the country’s economy will continue to recover given the strong performance of tourism and will improve in 2022. Furthermore, S&P believes the TCI will continue to adhere to prudent financial management and limit borrowing, and that fiscal reserve balances will increase during the next two years. Additionally, the rating agency also expects continuity in TCI’s institutional relationship with the U.K.
In its report, the rating agency advised that the rationale for the rating was a result of the Country’s institutional and economic profile. That is, the economic recovery led by resurgence in tourism and continued institutional stability. S&P indicated that despite the short-term pressures of the global COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the TCI Government’s prudent actions, aided by the U.K.’s swift transfer of vaccines, allowed international travel to resume as early as the first quarter of 2021. The combination of the Government’s swift response, coupled with pent-up demand in key source markets, led to a strong recovery in tourism, which in turn, has led to a better-than anticipated economic recovery. S&P estimates GDP per capita to be $23,674 in 2021, up from $20,757 in 2020 – a 14% year over year increase. Tourism remains the core pillar of the economy, indirectly accounting for about 65% of GDP.
S&P indicated that the ratings could be revised upwards if better-than-expected GDP increases and continued favorable growth prospects were to substantially boost economic resilience. Additionally, the rating agency also stated that they could also raise the ratings if better availability of timely data, especially on external flows and stocks, were to boost transparency and indicated that TCI enjoyed a significantly stronger economic or external position.
However, if the rebound in tourism is interrupted or turns out to be weaker than expected, leading to prolonged stress on revenues, this may cause the TCI Government to run persistent fiscal deficits that could materially worsen public finances. This could lead to a down grading of the rating.
Commenting on the rating, Minister of Finance, Investment & Trade, Hon. E. Jay Saunders, stated that “I am happy and extremely proud that S&P saw fit to maintain our country’s credit rating at BBB+, particularly at a time when many countries had theirs downgraded – mainly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a testament to the strength of our economy, and particularly, our government’s prudent handling of it. We have taken particular note of S&P’s comment that they could raise the ratings on better availability of timely data, and we are working towards achieving that.”
TCI Agriculture launches Plant Clinic
By Dana Malcolm
#TurksandCaicos, June 25, 2022 – These days anything can be online, even a plant clinic! The Turks and Caicos Islands Department of Agriculture wants to help budding and experienced farmers with any plant issues they may have and their new Online Plant Clinic is their solution to help as many Islanders as possible.
Launched on Thursday, June 16 the clinic will operate through Facebook. Individuals with sick plants or pest issues will be required to take a photo of the issue and upload that photo to the department of Agriculture’s Facebook page.
Answers to issues will be given once a month, on every third Thursday, via a public video so all Islanders can have access. The launch was attended by Chief Plant Protection Officer-CPPO Roneta Huntley Thomas, Director of Agriculture Wilhelmina Kissoonsingh, Minister of Agriculture Josephine Connolly, and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture Mrs. Cheryl Ann Jones.
Connolly urged residents to “grow your own food and grow TCI.”
Attendees of the launch were allowed to participate in games trying to identify different diseases for a chance at prizes. Residents can now immediately start sending in their photos on the Facebook page.
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