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TCI Gov’t & Beaches mediation to start Nov 18; another delay looms in re-opening of the resort

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Beaches Resort Turks and Caicos with Covid19 signage in place for proposed Nov 18 opening; Photo by Magnetic Medai

#Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands – October 25, 2020 — The reopening date of Beaches Resort Turks and Caicos may again be delayed as the Turks and Caicos Islands Government (TCIG) will not be ready for sessions to resolve the multi-million tax dispute until November 18. 

A mediator is selected and while the unnamed Queen’s Counsel attorney-at-law has said he can accommodate meetings from November 8, TCIG is unable to make the date. 

November 18 is the day Beaches Turks and Caicos is scheduled to reopen.  Beaches Resort has announced that it will not reopen, however, until their matter is resolved.

The Premier – in speaking to media – asked Beaches Resort to stop bashing the Turks and Caicos Islands Government; Beaches in effect is saying ‘no’ to relenting on its robust language and unflattering characterisations of TCIG’s handling of the ongoing legal matter with the release on Saturday (Oct 24) of yet another strongly worded statement.

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“Heartless, vindictive and incompetent is what the TCIG have proven themselves to be. Their eyes are blind and their ears are deaf to the extreme hardship and suffering of the citizens of the TCI,” said Beaches Resort Turks and Caicos, which added, “The TCIG advised that they are not available until November 18, 2020. Even after the mediation, Beaches understands that the matter will then need to go to the House and Cabinet for approval. The end does not appear to be in sight.”

It is a volley of high voltage remarks which is polorising the people of the Turks and Caicos who either find the lingering impasse, irritating or irrational.

Beaches Resort continues to point to government inaction as inexcusable and its Board refuses to reopen without the multi-million dollar tax  row being settled.  It is a reality which has caused negative economic ripples as other major resort employers remain closed, airline arrivals are jeopardized and the thousands who depend on tourism and the consumption, services and entertainment linked to it, are financially depressed.

“Beaches for four years has been waiting for the Government to resolve a very simple matter in a fair and equitable way. Beaches made themselves available for mediation the week of November 8. Given the seriousness of the matter, we would have thought that the TCIG would have made themselves available at the earliest opportunity – any responsible and caring government certainly would have.”

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Some residents are cringing at the labelling and one comment circulated on WhatsApp captures the tone of those who believe Beaches Resort has gone too far.

[SIC]“Beaches benefitting more from us, than us from them.  They’ve exploited us wayyy too long bringing in their staff from JA.  Trust me another company ready to take yah place Beaches you get too demanding.  You’re too cocky.  Yu need us.  We don’t depend on you.  We are the most sought after you know that.”

But has the resort and investor overstepped its boundaries? 

Those urging a resolve to the matter are dumbfounded at the lack of expediency on the part of Government given how much is at stake.

 The Turks and Caicos Hotel and Tourism Association, on October 21 said this:   “The effects of this unfortunate situation have the potential to be far-reaching. At an extremely fragile time where all Caribbean countries are fighting for the rebounding of their tourism product, travel partner confidence is essential. Unfortunately, this can be quickly lost with our partners, with frustrations being felt by those working diligently to sell Turks and Caicos to a limited market, only to have to manage cancellations with no real answers to provide to travelers.”

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The Turks and Caicos on October 1, officially entered a recession according to Premier and Finance Minister Sharlene Robinson.  It is also true that the Turks and Caicos, has been ranked #1 in the world – according to the World Travel & Tourism Council – for having lost the most earnings, percentage wise, as a result of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on travel and tourism. 

Given these unprecedented circumstances; the plummeting cash in the Public Purse and the insistence by the TCIG that Beaches Resort does indeed owe over $25 million in unpaid taxes, many had hoped for more immediate movement toward mediation.

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What will it take to reclaim our country from the unrelenting scourge of violent crimes?

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Ed Forbes 

Concerned citizen of Grand Turk 

 

#TurksandCaicos, August 16, 2022 – With the news cycle moving at such a rapid pace, too often we tend to overlook or forget the pain and suffering some families are still going through from the senseless loss of their love ones to gun violence.

As a resident of Grand Turk, I am still angered and heartbroken over the loss of so many young lives and the senseless acts of aggression within our communities across these islands.

We are seeing a disturbing and significant increase in violent crimes primarily among our young men. Many  of the crimes appeared to be gang affiliated, pent up anger or some score that needed to be settled.

Now is high time we come together to find solutions to eradicate violent crimes. Rather than casting blame or pointing fingers let us stand alongside each other and our elected leaders with determination and power to actualize change.

Yes, we need to hold our elected and appointed leaders accountable for their actions or lack thereof, but I dispel this notion that having x number of additional police officers on the streets would have prevented these unfortunate incidents from happening. In addition, we cannot expect law enforcement nor the government to have all the answers.

Our communities need to become more proactive and we cannot rest until we see more positive results because this is what our citizens deserve.

With that being said, what progress if any has been made on the crime prevention initiatives for Grand Turk? Such proposal stemmed from a town hall meeting held nearly 6 months ago, following a devastating fire on an apartment complex in Grand Turk that left residents temporarily displaced.

Such initiative is what helps to keep the communities more engaged. Make no mistake about it, with the easy access between Islands, it could only be a matter of time before we see a spill over of criminal related activities.

Criminals are becoming more stealthier and lawyers are becoming savvy. Therefore, if our policing strategies are not regularly re-evaluated and revised, one of the challenges we will continue to face is suspects will be arrested but the evidence will be lacking to prosecute them.

And again, we are not telling law enforcement how to do their jobs, just offering what we see as viable solutions.

These are unprecedented times; therefore, we must take bold and sometimes costly steps to affect the desired results.

The most practical and effective way to impact armed violence is a relentless effort to stem the flow of illegal guns into TCI, and inter island transport of weapons.

If the escalating gun violence is largely in part due to the result of compromised boarders, then put the necessary resources in place to fix it.

For example, a dedicated marine vessel in Grand Turk.

Border control is one of, if not, the most important benefit of Turks and Caicos Islands being a British overseas territory. As such, they have an obligation to properly protect our boarders, provide adequate support and enhanced technology in this area. Henceforth, let us hold their feet to fire to help get the job done.

If we fail to properly protect our borders head on, like many third world countries, there is a clear and present danger of TCI becoming the next heaven for illegal weapons trade.

One may never grasp or understand why these good upbringing young individuals do what they do. Maybe they have lost hope in the system of justice, struggling with mental illness and are now embracing their new twisted beliefs with a fervor that is, perhaps, not understandable or comprehensible to others.

Thereby, this may be the driving force that push them to commit these heinous acts of violence against one another and our citizens.

Either way, their actions impacts every single one of us in some form or fashion. The question that will always remain is, are these really heartless criminals or are they just seeking social mobility and trying to make progress for themselves for which they now deem as acceptable norms?

In my professional opinion, what we are seeing in this young generation in terms of their behavior, is simply a shift in attitudes. Some of these individuals become very frustrated because they are not finding any routes to making real progress, they find their paths blocked and frustration can lead to aggression. As a result, they are now classifying violence as a justified means to an end.

What we need are long-term and short-term public policies to address these issues, to include a strong focus on neighborhoods suffering from socio-economic inequalities. We have got to find ways to avoid our youth from becoming expandable in the wrong areas of life, because in the end, no one wins.

Below are some suggestions of a 7 point short-and long-term solution and a framework which we can continue to build upon to help curb crime and improve outcomes.

  1. The formation of an active tactical police unit geared specifically toward gang related crimes. This should include the necessary training and expertise in this area. Let us try to nip this in the bud before it gets way out of hand and more innocent bystanders or unintended targets become victims.
  2. Focus on creative ways to rid illegal guns off the streets, coupled with data-driven deployment of officers.
  3. Implement a focused deterrence approach geared toward high-risk repeat offenders to include increased visits from their probation officers and providing available resources to assist them.
  4. Increase the existing budget for CCTV cameras for both Grand Turk and Provo, to include additional placement and quality of equipment to improve video footage.
  5. Conduct close review of law enforcement salaries compared to other departments and agencies. This will determine equitable compensation and cost of living regardless of Belongers status. This will also help to improve officers morale and loyalty and minimize any thoughts of corruption.
  6. Based on in-depth analysis and crime data, set up police substations in high crime ridden areas or communities that are suffering from spatial displacement of police presence.
  7. Real rehabilitation and mental health treatment for incarcerated criminals, because they are not serving life sentences and will eventually be released into society.

We are certainly at a crossroad here and what brought us to this point is certainly not for a lack of effort on the part of our dedicated men and women serving on our police force.

What we must demand at every level, is accountability of performance and results driven leadership. I am still confident, that collectively we can come up with some viable and effective solutions to this growing madness. It’s a must, as our lives and our livelihood are depending on it.

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New Locally Produced Talkshow Series Trailblazing Chats Airs

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The First Two Island Beauty Queen with Aaliyah Elliott | Trailblazing Chats: EP1

 

#Providenciales, Turks and Caicos, August 15, 2022 – Trailblazing Chats is a series where Trailblazers talk about the trails they paved for future generations. Pioneers, innovators, influencers, and lifelong learners share their illustrious paths and individual experiences on this show to immerse viewers in their world. Each episode, join the discussion with a special guest presenter as we explore previously trodden paths.

The series was produced by Leonardo “Leo” Lightbourne and Nolan “Nolz” Smith, the owners of Open Thought Communication. Leo Lightbourne, shared that the goal of Trailblazing Chats is to inspire the next generation to follow the trail to excellence. He said “I believe too often as a youth; we believe we have to invent the wheel and while so innovation is necessary, there are also some core values and beliefs we must learn to achieve greatness too. Trailblazing Chats takes listening through the trails of these pioneers and explores the life lessons and experiences that led to their historical achievements”.

For the premiere episode of Let’s Get Candid Co-Host, Lori Hall sat down with the Turks and Caicos’ first two crown beauty pageant, Aaliyah Elliott, to discuss her historic accomplishment. Aaliyah is the first person to secure victories in both Miss Regatta and Miss Grand Turk in the same year; she won both pageants within one month. The conversation explored Aaliyah’s childhood and the different experiences that led her to participate in beauty pageants.

Pageants globally often come under a lot of criticism, and the Turks and Caicos Islands is no exception. Aaliyah got really candid with Let’s Get Candid Co-Host Lori Hall as she opened up about the criticism she has received as the holder of two crowns. Some hold the belief that pageants should be regulated in the Turks and Caicos Islands restricting winners from participating in other island pageants. However, Aaliyah believes pageants should not be regulated and that winners of one island pageant entering others will force the other contestants to “step up their game”.

The Miss Turks and Caicos Islands Beauty Pageant have not been held since 2014. Shanice Williams is still our reigning Queen after 8 years. Aaliyah also advocated for the reinstatement of Miss Turks and Caicos and plans to enter if it returns in 2023.

Trailblazing Chats premiered Sunday, August 14th, 2022 at 8pm on the YouTube and Facebook Channels of Open Thought Communications.

 

SUBSCRIBE TO CHANNEL TO WATCH TRAILBLAZING CHATS: https://www.youtube.com/c/OpenThought

 

FOLLOW THE LET’S GET CANDID SHOW:

INSTAGRAM | https://instagram.com/ OpenThoughtTV  

FACEBOOK | https://www.facebook.com/OpenThoughtTV

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Caribbean News

TCI Premier and Delegation visit NCI in Jamaica

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#Manchester, Jamaica, 14 August 2022 – The Honourable Charles Washington Misick, Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands, and his delegation have arrived at the Northern Caribbean University (NCU) in Central Jamaica.The Premier will give the address at the second commencement ceremony and will be conferred with an Honorary Doctor of Commerce Degree.  The Premier completed high school at West Indies College which is now NCU more than 50 years ago.  Premier Misick and his delegation are on a four day visit to Jamaica.The Office of the Premier and Public Policy will bring commencement live on its Facebook page at 2PM EST.The Premier’s delegation includes: First Lady, Mrs. Delthia Russell-Misick; Hon. Arlington Musgrove, Minister of Immigration and Border Services; Hon. Rachel Taylor, Minister of Education, Labour, Employment and Customer Service; Mr. Wesley Clerveaux, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Labour, Employment and Customer Service; Ms. Althea Been, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Immigration and Border Services; Mr. Miquel Swann, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Office of the Premier and Public Policy; Mr. Edwin Taylor, Commissioner of Labour; and Mr. Bentley Johnson Aide De Camp.

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