#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.
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.”
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).
Woman dies on Tuesday; 32nd Covid Death for Turks & Caicos
By Dana Malcolm
#TurksandCaicos, January 20, 2022 – The Turks and Caicos has recorded its 32nd death related to COVID-19.
The person, who we are told is a special needs young woman – was unvaccinated and had underlying medical conditions.
The death rate in the Turks and Caicos of both vaccinated and unvaccinated persons has climbed alarmingly this year. In the 21-month period from March 2020 when the country recorded its first case to December 2021, there were 26 deaths recorded in the TCI.
In the 19 days since the start of 2022 that number has increased to 32; which means six deaths already in January.
Cruising should slow down says PAHO
By Dana Malcolm
‘Slow down on Cruising’, that’s the word from the Pan American Health Organization, PAHO in their latest recent press conference.
“In the context of intense transmission, due to the Omicron variant as we have highlighted several times. It is just logical to suspend or at least limit the cruise ship traffic as an outbreak on board might end up exceedingly high and probably will go beyond the capacity of local health services”
Both the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos are experiencing a massive uptick in cases and several warnings regarding cruise travel have been issued by the US Centers for Disease Control.
Cruising just resumed for many regional countries this past Summer, Turks and Caicos was among the latest to restart on December 13.
A stop to sailing would be devastating to economies, however, ports of call like Grand Turk which are reeling with rocketing case numbers of COVID are urged to consider the suggestion of slowing down on ships by PAHO.
Understanding Sargassum with help from the TCI’s Department of Environment & Coastal Resources
By Sherrica Thompson
#TurksandCaicos, January 20, 2022 – Sargassum, also known as seaweed, is a natural brown macroalga that lives in temperate and tropical oceans of the world. The floating micro eco-system is important to many species, including baby turtles, little crabs, and tiny fish. All these animals use the floating rafts of the sargassum for protection, shelter, and food.
Over the years, sargassum has been increasing its quantity in the Caribbean due to climate change. As water temperatures increase, sargassum blooms, and as this continues, it occurs in large amounts. This can be dangerous for some marine life because when seaweed washes up on the shore, some species become trapped in the sargassum mat.
“In the Turks and Caicos Islands, we have not seen the full severity of sargassum blooms. Our neighbours in Bonaire, for example, experience up to six feet of sargassum, and they have found stranded dolphins, sea turtles, and sometimes even birds,” said Amy Avenant.
“When the sargassum washes up on shore, it starts to decompose, and when it decomposes, it emits methane, and that is the stinky sulfuric eggy smell that you can smell when you walk past it on the beach. It is a bad thing for climate change because of the methane, but it is not harmful to your health.”
Turks and Caicos saw this in extreme amounts in October; so severe, resorts were forced to bag and bury the stinky seaweed which for over a week covered the usually sandy white stretch of Grace Bay beach.
Avenant noted that in the TCI, we have a balance between managing the influx of sargassum and impacting the areas where it lands because its influx is correlated to the cycles of the moon.
She also said sargassum can be used as a fertilizer in farming. If you collect it, the advice is to spread it out and ensure you wash the excess salt off before adding to your gardens or farms.
There are also hidden dangers and habitat threats to the piles of sargassum on shorelines.
Avenant informed, when you see sargassum on the beach, ensure you watch out for wildlife that might be stuck and species which might have made a home of the ocean’s deposit which has washed up, this is heightened on rocky shores.
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