TCIG cuts Economic Stimulus by over $10 million while 2,000 people wait for cash
#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.
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.
Kamala Harris to meet with Caribbean leaders in The Bahamas
#USA, June 5, 2023 – Kamala Harris, United States Vice President will journey to Nassau Bahamas in June for a top level meeting with Caribbean leaders, marking the first time she will visit the region since occupying office in 2021.
According to the White House in a statement, the meeting will bring attention to a range of regional issues. Harris and the Caribbean leaders will continue talks on the shared efforts to address the climate crisis, such as promoting climate resilience and adaptation in the region and increasing energy security through clean energy.
Additionally, the statement informed that Harris’ trip “delivers on the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to advance cooperation with the Caribbean in pursuit of shared prosperity and security, and in recognition of the common bonds and interests between our nations.”
The June 8th meeting builds on and strengthens the U.S.-Caribbean Partnership to Address the Climate Crisis 2030, which was launched by the Vice President and Caribbean leaders in Los Angeles at the Summit of the Americas as further mentioned by White House Statement.
Woman who lost foot is Alexandra Truwit, Yale Grad & All American Swimmer
By Dana Malcolm
#TurksandCaicos, June 5, 2023 – A champion swimmer, marathon runner, Ivy League graduate and world traveler with a huge smile– that is Alexandra Truwit; at only 22 years old, she has a whole life ahead of her, one that may have now been made exponentially harder by the loss of her foot in an incident which continues to be unconfirmed, but reported as a shark attack off the coast of Providenciales.
Magnetic Media learned Truwit, who is a very experienced swimmer, was on a private charter captained by an employee of Big Blue Collective (not a Big Blue Charter). She was bitten by what eyewitnesses think could have been a Caribbean Reef Shark and her foot below the ankle was completely severed.
It’s a heartbreaking incident exacerbated by the young woman’s obvious love for- and proficiency in- the water.
The Yale website describes Truwit as a Two-time USA Swimming Academic All-American. Featured as a ‘Teen Titan’ in her high school, she was one of ten young people chosen for the school’s magazine.
Truwit, who has a twin brother, cites nail art and baking as her life joys. Already having survived ‘mono’ as a teen, she volunteers as a Special Olympics “hugger” and started a Special Olympics club at her high school.
She was airlifted from the Turks and Caicos on the day of her accident and there have been no updates on her condition so far. Residents in the TCI and the US have expressed via social media their best wishes for the young achiever and must now wait, hoping for the best possible outcome.
One resident said, “So sorry Alexandra you had to encounter such a traumatic experience while on vacation on our beautiful Island. I am praying for a successful surgery and speedy recovery for you, hopefully, the surgeon can work their magic for you.”
Governor’s Appointed Member touts Civil Service Upgrade during Budget Debates
By Dana Malcolm
#TurksandCaicos, June 5, 2023 – There are sweeping changes coming to the civil service this year after years of complaints about delays and understaffing.
“For the year 2023/24, the office of the Deputy Governor has a very ambitious public sector transformation centered around improving service delivery and the customer experience.”
This came from Governors Appointed Member Willin Belliard, as he rose in the budget debates on Thursday May 18 to detail the revamp.
Phase one of E-procurement which will allow for the virtual submission of tenders is to be implemented. Along with that will come E-Jobs, a similar system touted to make job applications virtual, swift and easy.
Implementation of the Human Capital Procurement Program is also on the list of deliverables. Human capital is sorely lacking in the Turks and Caicos across the public and private sectors with hundreds of vacancies sitting open and resignations continuing to pile up.
Public servants will also find it easier to enroll into the all new Public Sector Pension Plan with the advent of a portal to remove the need for paper based applications.
The previously announced pay grading exercise is on the table to be completed and a Contract management unit has now been created to manage the delivery of projects that taxpayers are funding.
Residents of the Turks and Caicos have complained bitterly about the state of the civil service in the country for years. From police records to the treasury, the service is characterized by low staffing, frustrating wait time and long lines.
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