Turks & Caicos – December 10, 2020 – As the Turks and Caicos and other British Overseas Territories (OTs) were layered with messages of commitment from as high up as Prince Charles and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, there came a bombshell decision which caused the UK Minister for the OTs to quit and slam the Foreign Office for abandoning its fiscal promise to countries like TCI.
Baroness Sugg resigned from her junior ministerial role when she learned funding would be cut to .05 percent of gross national income from .07 percent, according to media reports about the explosive development.
Foreign Office Minister, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has since come under fire. The chancellor however defends that Covid-19 forced the streamlining of funds, saying “spending .07 percent of our national income overseas is difficult to justify to the British people.”
Sunak said there is a commitment to return to the .07 percent once the pandemic loosens its grip on the UK; but his statement raises that age-old argument of how the overseas territories are truly viewed in times of trouble.
Ping-ponging from being a part of the British family to being considered foreigners who benefit from benevolent as opposed to entitled support; the explanation seemed to undermine the message from Boris Johnson, UK Prime Minister who on Tuesday spoke to the JMC live from #10 Downing Street, London.
“In spite of everything, of the difficulties we are going through, we remember that we are united by deep ties of kinship and friendship and history and values. We in the UK government are going to make sure we continue to intensify that partnership,” said Johnson who reflected on the impact of climate change and now the public and economic crises of Covid-19.
“Do not forget that the UK is absolutely committed to you, to your futures and to our partnership. As we go forward and recover from this pandemic, we want to make sure that we build back greener and that we look after island economies that are so vulnerable to climate change.”
Prince Charles had a similar communication ahead of talks on the environment, telling OTs of their huge contribution to “our” biodiversity.
With one month to Brexit, a media report explained the UK Government recommitted to JMC member states they will continue to be considered by the European Union for funding of development projects, which is an area of particular concern in the TCI.
A report from the Office of the Premier informs that other areas of concern over the four days of virtual meetings, from November 23-26 were: Constitutional Relationships; Trade; Economic Resilience; Border Security; Prisons and Environmental Protection and Funding.
“During day one of the meetings, Premier Robinson gave a presentation on Border Security, highlighting TCI’s management of illegal migration and human trafficking through its National Security Strategy and multi-sector partnerships including the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police, United States (US) Coast Guard and Bahamas Defence Force. Following the Premier’s presentation, a roundtable discussion ensued to outline further border security challenges experienced around the region and a full outline of the UK funded Border Security Programme.”
Before her abrupt departure, Baroness Sugg invited Premier Robinson to speak – on day two – to the impact of COVID-19 on the Turks and Caicos Islands Economy and TCI’s short, medium and long term plans in response to the pandemic.
The Premier’s Office informed: “During day three of the meeting, the Premier made a third presentation on Her Majesty’s Prison highlighting the TCI Government’s investment in the redevelopment, management and hiring and training of staff at the facility. The Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force and the UK Government has lent their support in physical manpower and funding, in partnership with the TCI Government which has in the National Budget allocated funding to fulfill much needed upgrades to the facility.
Leaders heard from His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson as well as the Minister for the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, Baroness Sugg.”
The Premier was joined by His Excellency Nigel Dakin, TCI Governor; Ronlee James, Executive Director for the Office of the Premier, Local Government and Community Affairs and Tracy Knight and Kimo Tynes, UK Representatives for the TCI Government London Office.
Turks and Caicos Government Ministers joined during sessions which discussed matters pertaining to their respective Ministries.
The Joint Ministerial Council (JMC) is usually held in London, however on account of the pandemic, the meetings were held virtually.
Originally published in the Magnate; our brand new E-newspaper. Want it every morning? Contact Deandrea Hamilton: 649-231-9261. We are the News Leader.
A Natural Racing Experience Thrills Senses, Protects the Marine Environment and Producers Winners
By Dana Malcolm
#TurksandCaicos, June 27, 2022 – Human beings have been enamored with the ocean since the beginning of time and the robust tourism product of the Turks and Caicos is proof of that, but only a few of us venture away from the sand to swim long, lovely laps in the ocean.
“It just somehow makes everybody a little friendlier; everyone is a lot happier when they swim in the ocean.” A founder of the annual Race for the Coch Eco Sea Swim, Ben Stubenberg, confessed that after swimming in the open water many people don’t want to go back to a pool because the (sea) water is “so perfect.”
This view may have a little something to do with the huge turnout for the Eco-Sea Swim races held on Saturday June 25 (2022).
Stubenberg, a swim instructor and avid open sea swimmer himself opened up to Magnetic Media about what it feels like to drive your body through the pristine waters, unencumbered, pushing your own physical limits for the most exhilarating exercise experience.
“All of your senses are engaged and you feel a connection with nature that you don’t get from standing on land.” He said, “This is something that you feel because there’s really no limits; its as far as you can go, it’s quite unlike a pool. This is salt water, you float better…it’s engaging with nature in a way that you can’t otherwise do when you’re swimming in a pool.”
In its 12th year, “Race for the Conch” Eco-Sea Swim is a registered non-profit in the Turks & Caicos Islands. The organizers explained that proceeds from sponsorships and race fees go to support The Provo Children’s Home, local learn-to-swim programs, the Reef Fund, and initiatives to support special needs children in the family islands.
The 2022 staging pulled in 135 swimmers in its biggest ever showing, 13 of whom were children from the Turks and Caicos. Adult, teen and even preteen swimmers came from the US, Canada, The Bahamas, and the Turks and Caicos to participate in four races: A 2.4 mile; a 1 mile; a half mile, and a 100m kiddie race.
The top-ranked adults for the 2.4-mile races were Joseph Shields for the men and Alicia Uhl for the women.
Lenin Hamilton Jr and Taylor Schiffern won the one mile for men and women respectively and Lenin Hamilton Jr and Celia Wolf topped the half-mile.
Over the years, organizers have maintained that they wanted to have a more environmentally conscious race.
“We decided that as part of the race we wanted to have a commitment to a more ecologically friendly race that was more in line with our philosophy of trying to make the earth and the ocean a better place…we take that part of it very seriously. It’s not just something added on because it sounds ‘trendy,” said Stubenberg.
There are several ways the organizers set out to do this.
Only reef-friendly sunscreen is allowed on the beach and they provide ‘Stream to Sea’ sunscreen created by a local partner company called ‘Whole Health”. Race for the Conch Eco Sea Swim also serves its refreshments in biodegradable containers, often the rehydration drinks are coconut water coming straight from coconut trees, with no packaging needed.
Additionally, even the coveted conch trophies and medals are made by local artist Stanford Handfield crafted from actual conch shells from the TCI’s slice of the Atlantic Ocean.
Though the race is not yet totally eco-friendly, Stubenberg hopes Race will evolve to having a zero carbon footprint very soon.
Photo credit: Photo by Paradise Photography
Over 3000 Vehicles can be fined for wrong or no license plates says, DMV Director
By Deandrea Hamilton
#TurksandCaicos, June 27, 2022 – The grace period for incorrect license plates or vehicles partially outfitted with the new Turks and Caicos Islands license plates is over. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) last week issued a notice which warned that vehicle owners need to either collect their plates, order the proper plates or put on the license plates they already have at the front and rear of vehicles.
“Vehicles that are currently carrying plats that do not fit the description as outlines are not in compliance with the Road Traffic Ordinance. Licensees are therefore asked to contact the Department of Motor Vehicles to obtain the correct license plates immediately, failure to do so may result in drivers being ticketed,” said the notice.
Wilbur Caley, Director of the DMV said there are estimated to be over 18,000 motor vehicles in the islands and some 15,400 plates have been issued, with only around 180 plates to be collected in Grand Turk and a few still waiting for their owners in Providenciales.
“Some of those or a majority of the remaining 3000 have not come in to renew or license their vehicles and are currently driving around with a red or other colour or no plate on their vehicle.”
This is against the law and carries a $300 fine, said Caley.
“We have sufficient plates to issue to persons. WE have approval to issue temporary plates where we don’t have the substantive plate in stock,” explained the Director.
This is important to state as there was a time when the Road Safety Department could not keep pace with the demand for license plates once the new ones were introduced in 2019. Road Traffic police officers would stop motorists without plates, view paper work to ensure there was payment and a licensed driver was awaiting their new plates, but now that grace period is over.
“There are a number of vehicle owners driving around that have not come in to have their plates changed. We have stock to issue those plates.”
Office hours at the department are Monday through Thursdays, 8:30am – 3:30pm and on Fridays, the offices closes earlier at 3pm.
Rules for Industrial Action proposed by TCI Airports Authority
By Dana Malcolm
#TurksandCaicos, June 27, 2022 – In the wake of a major shutdown at the Providenciales International Airport (PLS) on June 18 because of a sudden firefighters’ strike over wages and a narrowly avoided strike from security guards at the airport only days after, the Turks and Caicos Islands Government is making moves to ensure strike action is regulated.
In a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, June 22 the government said it noted a paper from the Turks and Caicos Islands Airports Authority that requested that new laws be put into place to set protocols for industrial action.
The government has requested more time to consider any legislative amendments that will be made to the TCIAA Ordinance to regulate industrial action by employees of the company. It is almost a certainty that amendments to the bill will pass the cabinet stage as the government promised they would reach the house of assembly “in due time”
Whether the proposed amendments to the protocol for strikes would only apply to employees of the TCIAA or all public sector workers was not revealed, and the severity of the promised changes has not yet been revealed to the public but what is likely to be included is a clause prohibiting unannounced strike action.
Over the last decade, the TCIAA staff have had to resort to industrial action at least six times under both PDM and PNP administrations.
The Government says it is “committed” to fixing the issues, especially salary disparities at the airport.
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