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#GrandTurk, Turks and Caicos Islands – December 17, 2020 – A starting loan of $80 million dollars is approved by the Turks and Caicos House of Assembly and it will help to mitigate the economic fall-out resulting from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the local economy. 

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Losses sent the Turks and Caicos into recession and demanded that funds be found to fill the hundreds of millions of dollars lost in government revenue. 

Premier Sharlene Robinson, on Wednesday December 16, informed the House, that it took a mere seven weeks of a competitive bidding process following the October announcement of the need for the loan, to agree on the Republic Bank Ltd as the best lender.

The loan is for up to $80 million at a per annum interest rate of 2.9 percent. Turks and Caicos has 12 months to repay the loan and can borrow an additional $100 million with no additional fees or penalties, said Mrs. Robinson, TCI Premier and Minister of Finance.

The Opposition Leader believes it took the PDM Administration too long to move to secure the loan.

“It is surprising that it took us until October to be able to reach out to financial institutions,” said Washington Misick, who is also the former Minister of Finance, “We could have seen this coming and could have better prepared to provide relief to the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands based on those projections. The good thing about numbers, the good thing about financial planning is you could always present what is called flexible budgets, scenario analysis that would say what the worst situation is, the best situation is and more likely situations.”

C. Washington Misick, Leader of Oppositon (PNP), file photo

Mr. Misick is convinced the Turks and Caicos will need more money and shared the Opposition will support the measure largely because of those who would be adversely impacted if the borrowed funds were any further delayed.

“…for the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands and particularly the persons who would most likely be impacted, by the inability to pay government expenses  in the absence of having this stand by line of credit

 There was also concern and caution expressed by the Opposition Leader about when Turks and Caicos would begin to see some semblance of normal in the leading industry of tourism.

“It is anticipated that tourism would be in full swing by the middle of December, which is where we are now my understanding is the average occupancy rate in the islands is around 35 at the most 40 percent. So, I’m hoping – as I have spoken to the budget in April – that again we are not being over optimistic about what the real situation is.”

Misick agreed that the cost of the borrowing is reasonable.

Republic Bank is based in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago and is a publically traded company on the Trinidad and Tobago Stock Exchange (TTSE).

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TCI Census Contests Results coming soon

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, November 30, 2022 – After the revelation that the 2022 National Census had to be put on the back burner because of gang violence, the Department of Statistics is reassuring residents that the competitions held in relation to the census have already been judged and results will be announced soon. 

In a follow up to a Magnetic Media report of Tuesday November 29, we spoke to Shirlen Forbes, who heads the Department of Statistics.  Mr. Forbes explained that the logo, slogan and tagline contests for the census already had their winners.

Prizes for the logo competition ranged from $400 to $1000.The slogan competition open to high school and TCICC students only had prices ranging from $150-$400 and the tagline contest start up to $350 in prizes up for grabs for primary school students in the TCI.

If the reduction in crime holds steady, Forbes said the Census is expected to resume work in January 2023.

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Customers across both Internet Service Providers impacted by freak outage Saturday

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, November 30, 2022 – Magnetic Media can report, the strange countrywide outage affecting both Flow and Digicel customers over the weekend was a regional issue not just affecting The Turks and Caicos according to the service providers.

Numerous calls and complaints flooded Magnetic Media newsroom on Saturday; angry residents said their internet and mobile services had dropped.

Unusual was that customers of both providers were affected in this simultaneous event, which eventually we learnt had stemmed from beyond TCI shores.

At Digicel, the issues emerged from the night before with a drastic slow-down in speed of its internet services.  Technical staff was able to right the anomaly.

At Flow, the tech team was equally hard at work.  Flow’s serviced dropped completely.

On Monday,  we reached out to Flow and Digicel to find out exactly what caused the national disruption.  Flow Communications Executive Darron Hillaire told us, ““There was a multi-site outage that is still currently being investigated, as far as we know the cause was offshore, and details are still limited at this time.”

Providers in Jamaica confirmed that there were some regional issues that would likely affect countries maybe not in the form of total Internet outages but small drops in service coverage.

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TCI Gov’t Doubles Down on $7.5 Million Spend on Fibre Optic Cable needed for E-Government

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, November 30, 2022 – Static, crackling and the beeps of on screen messages that WhatsApp reconnecting were frequent interruptions on a recent Magnetic Media telephone interview with the TCI’s Deputy Premier, E. Jay Saunders.  Saunders, also the Minister of Finance with responsibility for E-governance  as he spoke to us from one of the family islands evidencing the need for e-infrastructure intervention; it also happened to be the very subject of our interview.

A new fibre optic cable is coming and it is the lynch pin in the development of a reliable, effective e-government system for the TCI.

Upwards of $7.5 million dollars is allocated to the investment on behalf of taxpayers; a pretty penny but it’s a desperately needed upgrade, said Saunders, who is confident the cable will revolutionize country-wide telecommunications.

“I’m personally excited by it because if we build it we will literally transform the TCI.  It’s one of those things you will look back on and think this was a watershed moment, where the Turks and Caicos moved up a notch.”

He  went on to detail the expected cost and the timing of the project.

“It’s going to be a multi-year project, it’s not going to be started and finished in one year so what we are budgeting in the next financial year is $7.5 million to start with– We want to get it done as quickly as possible.”
He stressed that if more cash was needed it would be provided.

“We think it will be less than two years but more than one year” Saunders said, emphasizing that the 18-month mark was likely.  He explained that he fully expected the cable to not only improve the quality of life in the TCI, but to turn a profit as well.

“Not just a profit- I truly believe that we’ll make a return on the investment for the people of the Turks and Caicos. Government services will certainly improve, particularly as we transition to e-government—and the carriers obviously utilize it.”

Saunders, who is a former CEO of Digicel Turks and Caicos had previously explained the value of the cable to enhancing the network between Provo and Grand Turk  in discussion with Robert Hall on RTC FM; he had appeared on a September 28th episode of Expressions radio talk show.

“All of the carriers send their signal from Providenciales to Middle Caicos and then to South Caicos and then the signal is sent to Grand Turk and so  if something happens to that tower in Middle Caicos, which is the least populated island then South Caicos goes down and Grand Turk goes down. It’s a very fragile setup.”

That setup limits the amount of data customers can receive, even the amount of cable channels Saunders told us, “The limiting factor is the wireless connectivity- once we get that domestic fibre in we will be able to get the same service to the family islands that we have in Provo.”

Talk of the fibre optic cable came up again during the recent town hall meeting held in Provo on November 21.  The Deputy Premier was addressing a question about e-Government.

The need for a revamp of the cable system was especially evident after the passage of Hurricane Fiona. Both Flow and FortisTCI suffered damage to its systems including downed poles which caused weeks of inconvenient service interruptions to residents.

In addition right now there is only one fibre optic cable coming into the islands; if that gets damaged the TCI is effectively disconnected from the Globe.  The new cable is also expected to give the Turks and Caicos full redundancy, in terms of connection to the wider world.

The fibre optic cable is expected to begin implementation  in January.

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