#TurksandCaicosIslands – The Premier has doubled down on the commitment to not cut civil servants salaries. Sharlene Robinson, also the country’s Minister of Finance defended her office and PDM Administration on its intention for terminal benefits for Civil Servants.
“To project that there should be a sacrifice at this time is premature or to state that TCIG can not commit has been mischaracterized following a release from the President of the CSA. I believe it is important to clarify by saying that the state of finances in this country and the uncertainty around the finances that exists has seen TCIG seek to borrow to stabilize its cash flow to meet existing commitments including high fixed costs like salaries and will honour commitments made.
We remain committed to the public service and have over the years demonstrated this,” said Premier Robinson in a statement issued November 26.
The Covid-19 pandemic has shoved the Turks and Caicos into recession. Global tourism took the hardest hit and for this tourism dependent jurisdiction, that means earnings are down, government spending is down but the unexpected costs linked to the virus which has sickened 64.5 million people across the globe, including 750 Turks and Caicos residents has stymied plans to honour the government’s commitments to the public sector.
The promise is however, five-years old.
“On coming to Office, I met with the then President of the CSA and members of the Executive. Following that meeting I also spoke with the Deputy Governor who advised that the committee appointed in 2015 had been able to progress the work further due to other pressing commitments. We agreed that a consultant can carry out the task and I offered to fund it. This offer was accepted and the consultant was retained,” explained the Premier.
The matter has reached the Cabinet level, said the Premier, but it is not concluded.
“Until these costs are assessed, TCIG cannot and has not taken a decision. The matter of the pandemic and the resultant economic crisis has been time consuming and has certainly been a priority but our commitment has not waivered. We are asking the President and the CSA family to rest assured that this remains a commitment but also to note as I publicly stated that the Budget for 2021 will be late and will come within a new Administration.”
In listing other opportunities and benfits in the public sector, Premier Sharlene Robinson noted that increments have returned, a credit union for the civil service on the cutting board and “Despite overtures to cut salaries, on rising to bring the national budget this year, I assured the CSA that TCIG will not take a look at cutting salaries as a response to carry TCI’s finances through what has been a troubling year for the country but will do as economists advise.”
Blue Hills Man Charged with Manslaughter
#TurksandCaicos, February 8, 2023 – A 48-year-old man has been charged with two counts of manslaughter.
He appeared before a Magistrate on January 30th. Following his court appearance, the matter was committed for sufficiency hearing on April 06th.
Andre was charged in connection with an incident which occurred on December 24th at the Residence Yard, Five Cays.
Two female minors -ages six and seven- died as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Press Release: RTCIPF
Sugar and salt tax campaigns gaining steam
By Dana Malcolm
February 7, 2023 – A global battle on sugar and salt is ramping up as the United States joins The Bahamas and Barbados in creating proposals for historic sugar and salt laws.
The country’s Agricultural Department for the first time in history, proposed a cap on the amount of sugar to be allowed in school meals.
The World Health Organization has found that North America and the Caribbean have the highest rates of childhood diabetes in the world and based on the International Diabetes Federation’s Diabetes Atlas we also have the second highest prevalence of Diabetes overall for all global regions at 14 percent or 51 million people with a projected 24 percent increase in just 22 years.
Barbados, the United States, Canada, Haiti, Mexico, Belize and St. Kitts and Nevis are all suffering from incredibly high rates of diabetes.
Barbados and The Bahamas announced sugar taxes last month; the hope is to reduce the importation and sale of sugar and salt rich foods.
Advocates across the Caribbean including Jamaica, Trinidad, and others have been campaigning for sugar taxes in their own countries with support from the public.
Now the proposed nutritional rules for the United States would set firm boundaries on how much salt and sugar can legally be added to meals, setting a new standard as most food imports for countries like The Bahamas are from the US.
The plan for the US is expected to be rolled out by 2025.
The rules, are unapologetically an attempt to cut down incidences of diabetes and other diseases fueled by unhealthy diets, according to media reports.
For now, the quantities on sugar and salt additives is an idea waiting wider consultation.
TCI Office in Bahamas identified
By Dana Malcolm
#TurksandCaicos, February 7, 2023 – An office space has already been identified for an all-new TCI Immigration office in The Bahamas according to Arlington Musgrove, Minister of Immigration and Border Services.
Musgrove told Magnetic Media that the ministry was “almost there” in regard to securing the space; it indicates the Government is moving full speed ahead with plans for the passing of the new Immigration Bill which will allow third-generation TC Islanders citizenship, even as the public awaits consultations on it.
The announcement of the bill had caused some skepticism among islanders, some of whom wanted the government to focus on keeping TC Islanders at home instead of recruiting others. Musgrove however had made it clear that the TCI was in a population crisis and would need to slow down PRC naturalisation rates and naturalise people with historical, familial and cultural connections to the land or risk going ‘extinct’.
The office will work to deepen the relationship between the two sister countries even more and help increase the TCI’s population offsetting the need for masses of external labour according to the government.
When passed, the rule will apply to third-generation islanders everywhere, not only in The Bahamas giving them a free ticket to come home.
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