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TCIG cuts Economic Stimulus by over $10 million while 2,000 people wait for cash

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#TurksandCaicosIslands – December 22, 2020 – The pace and procedure of financial support to thousands of Turks and Caicos Islands people amidst the catastrophic Covid-19 pandemic has attracted some commendation but mainly it has elicited stinging criticism.

Government last week rushed through the House of Assembly a measure to grant a Christmas loan of up to one month’s salary to Civil Servants, while casually accepting that as many as 2,000 people who applied for stimulus cash were still waiting the promised funds. 

The first stimulus payouts began in April, yet of the 9,000 people who had applied and the 7,165 applications which were approved, there remains nearly 400 people, eight months later, who have yet to be paid.

The fact is revealed in the 61-page Appropriations Committee Report which guided debate on the recent Budget Supplementary.

Families across the country have been devastated by the pandemic’s walloping effect on travel and tourism.  In some households, both mother and father lost income or experienced a drastic reduction in salary. 

Public sector salaries were uninterrupted during the pandemic, yet the urgency of the government was clear and the Christmas loan for its workers was fast-tracked.

The same sense of resoluteness was less tangible in relation to the thousands who have been pining for their stimulus monies.

Taxi and public license drivers still wait.  In a press conference, it was announced there is a $500,000 allotment to this category of workers.  However, until they work out an arrangement with the National Insurance Board, the free funding is frozen.

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From the report:  ‘Taxi Drivers Stimulus – The Taxi Drivers stimulus is still outstanding as the Ministry of Finance is awaiting confirmation from the Taxi Drivers that they had entered into arrangements with NIB’

In the second round of Economic Stimulus, the TCI Government offered $600 to Turk and Caicos citizens who were adversely impacted when the national lockdown and subsequent raft of restrictions were imposed from March to July.

The deadline for applications was December 9 and 3,129 Belongers applied for the financial help.  The Report did not state who, if anyone, had received the payout.

The Appropriations Committee Report informed 90 percent of the 900 Business applications approved are paid; however it means 90 local companies, months later, are still hanging on in hope for the critical cash.

Also striking in the report is the stated reduction of $5.5 million in funding to the Economic Stimulus plan.  However, the same report informed that the Committee approved $19.3 million as the new budgeted sum for the stimulus. This agreed figure falls nearly $12 million below the previously budgeted $25 million dollars for financial support to workers amidst the pandemic.

Meanwhile, the country is apparently swimming in cash due to, what can only be labelled, a wise savings strategy firmly guided by British oversight of the once fiscally beleaguered territory. 

In the Report presented in the House of Assembly on December 16, 2020 it is outlined that cumulatively, TCIG has $155 million dollars set aside.

The breakdown is:  the National Forfeiture Fund: $6.4 million; National Wealth Fund: $25.8 million; the Development Fund: $26 million and Unrestricted Cash: $96.8 million.

While some countries committed to monthly payments up to a specific number of weeks of stimulus money to people who suffered lost wages as a result of the unexpected, unprecedented impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the Turks and Caicos Islands Government opted for a one-time only payment approach.

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Crime

PRESS STATEMENT: MINISTRY OF EDUCATION

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#TurksandCaicos, January 27, 2023 – The Ministry responsible for Education confirms that a recent report of alleged sexual abuse was brought to the attention of authorities at a particular school. For the protection of the child, we will not divulge details of this matter. We do acknowledge that there were issues experienced which resulted in less than appropriate response to the incident.

 The Ministry is continuing its investigation of the incident, in its totality and has since requested a comprehensive report on the response from all involved. Several meetings, visits and discussions were held. The key is to ensure that the minor involved is afforded additional counselling and care and that other students within the institution are also afforded the relevant support needed. The Student Support Services has been active in coordinating this response which is currently in operation.

 As an immediate further action, the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) entities will convene and existing protocols will be reviewed and investigations conducted to determine the consistency of the response, exactly where the established protocols were not followed and the subsequent actions to be taken.

 The Ministry of Education, Youth, Sports and Social Services considers its responsibility for the Safeguarding of children of utmost importance. In so doing, the Ministry of Education has instituted a number of measures over the years to ensure that allegations of abuse to children in schools are treated with urgency. The creation of the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) was created to ensure that teachers, leaders, Social Workers, and Police can respond to allegations with the child’s safety and protection as the core consideration. Child safeguarding remains the Ministry’s primary concern.

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Caribbean News

Turks & Caicos Islands Cabinet Report, Meeting held January 10

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#TurksandCaicos, January 26, 2023 – His Excellency the Governor, Nigel Dakin, chaired the 1st meeting of Cabinet on Tuesday 10 January 2023 at the Premier’s Office on Providenciales.

All Members were present.

At this meeting Cabinet:

  • Approved the Fiscal Strategic Policy Statement (FSPS) 2023-27 which includes the fiscal targets of the Government for the next four (4) years to be submitted to the UK Government before being submitted to the House of Assembly for approval. Members also agreed a wide range of associated steps going forwards.
  • Approved an application for duty concessions on the importation of construction materials, furniture, fixtures and fittings from Grace Bay Club Ltd. to allow the resort to complete refurbishment work.
  • Approved an extension and revision to the MOU between the TCI Government and TCI Finance Limited, which leads on the development and growth of Financial Services in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
  • Approved adjustments to the Agriculture Finance Support Programme (Agro- Grant Incentive) for the provision of compensation for registered farms that incurred damages due to Hurricane Fiona in 2022. Members also supported the adoption of a “Farmer Information System”.
  • Approved proposed measures to control the roaming of livestock in the country covering the registration of livestock farms, construction and maintenance of holding facilities, and the transport of livestock.
  • Approved a proposed model and structure for the New Destination Management and Marketing Organisation and Tourism Regulatory Authority. Members also approved an implementation process, the composition of the appointed Board of Directors, staffing implications, and a financing model, including the establishment of Tourism Improvement Districts and the payment of fees by tourism entities.
  • Approved amendments to the Schedule of the Ports Authority (Stevedorers, Fees, and Charges) Regulations 2008, introducing a variation of stevedoring tariffs. Members also agreed next steps.
  • Noted the impact of the moratorium on the issuance of new visas to Hattian nationals originating out of Haiti and approved the implementation of a moratorium on the issuing of all visas to Haitian Nationals entering the Turks and Caicos Islands for six months with effect from 11 January 2023.
  • Approved the granting of a licence to a named individual for the purpose of erecting a swim deck protruding from the Crown parcel 60400/366 into the adjoining sea and the payment of associated annual fees.
  • Approved the renewal of a lease for the rental of office space for the Government’s Planning Department on Providenciales for a period of three years.
  • Discussed the renewal of a lease for the rental of office space for the Government’s Gender Affairs and Social Development Departments on Grand Turk and agreed next steps.
  • Approved the use of existing funds for the use of retrofitting the Turks and Caicos Islands Community College.
  • Approved the gradual outsourcing of janitorial services for government buildings, including schools.
  • Approved the observance of Public Holidays on 8 May 2023 to mark the King’s Coronation and on 19 June 2023 to mark the King’s Birthday.
  • Was updated on issues related to the Ministries of:
  1. Tourism,
  2. Education, and
  3. AG Chambers,
  4. Office of the Deputy Governor, and
  5. Office of the Governor

Further information on these matters will be provided by Ministers in due course.

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Government

DELANO ARTHUR APPOINTED AS COMMISSIONER OF ENERGY AND UTILITIES

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#TurksandCaicos, January 26, 2023 – The Office of the Deputy Governor of the Turks and Caicos Islands is pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Delano R. Arthur to the post of Commissioner of Energy and Utilities in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Transportation, Energy and Utilities.

Mr. Arthur holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering from Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Michigan (2002) and a Master of Science Degree in Information Systems and Management from the University of Phoenix in Phoenix, Arizona (2007).

With over fifteen (15) years’ service as an Engineering Professional, Mr. Arthur served in the posts of: Senior Technical Associate at the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) in Freeport, Bahamas from 2006-2009; as a Senior Project Officer and Diplomat with the Caribbean Community Secretariat (CARICOM) in Georgetown, Guyana from 2009-2011; as the Manager of Information Technology at the Grand Bahama Power Company Ltd. (GBPC) from 2012-2015; as the Operations Manager of Transmission and Distribution at GBPC from 2015-2018 and as the Director of Grid Solutions at GBPC from 2018-2022.

Mr. Arthur during his tenure at the Grand Bahama Power Company (GBPC) gained extensive experience in all aspects of engineering, technical automation, transmission, distribution and energy supply where he provided strategic and tactical planning advice on the design and operation of GBPC’s Grid inclusive of transmission and distribution, sub stations, power transformers, renewable energy, protection and relaying devices. He also served as the Technical Storm Lead for Hurricane Matthew, as well as the Project Owner to rebuild GBPC’s 45MW Base Load Generation Fleet in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.

Commenting on his appointment Mr. Arthur stated:

“My father and mother, having been born and raised in Conch Bar and Bottle Creek, respectively, humbles me as I consider this a pleasure to serve the people of these Islands.

I am also grateful to be part of the team that will pioneer the way in strengthening the Regulatory Regime for Energy and Utilities in these Islands, while we move towards a Net 0 carbon footprint”.

Deputy Governor and Head of the Public Service Her Excellency Anya Williams in commenting on Mr. Arthur’s appointment stated:

“It is with great pleasure that I extend congratulations to Mr. Delano Arthur on his appointment as the new Commissioner of Energy and Utilities here in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

This appointment is extremely critical in helping the Turks and Caicos Islands not only progress Energy Reform here in these islands, but also in ensuring that the appropriate regulatory functions are carried out and adhered in these islands.

Having had the early opportunity along with Premier the Honourable Dr. Charles Washington Misick to meet with Mr. Arthur since his appointment to discuss the vision for Energy Reform here in the islands and to understand his early assessment and futuristic plans for the Energy and Utilities Commission, we are fully confident in his ability to lead on these initiatives and pledge our full support of the provision of the necessary resources to ensure the Commissions success.

I wish Mr. Arthur well on his appointment and welcome him to the Turks and Caicos Islands Public Service.

Congratulations Delano!”

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