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CARTWRIGHT ROBINSON RESIGNS AS PDM PARTY LEADER, EXPRESSES GRATITUDE

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#TurksandCaicos, February 25, 2021 – My people of the Turks and Caicos Islands, You the people of this great country have spoken and there is no defeat when the people have won through their vote. You have said in no uncertain terms that you wanted a new direction and I will always defend your democratic right.

My Party has made an Official Statement today and it was important that it did so first before I offer my final thoughts with the nod of the new Party’s Leader.

As reported on Saturday, as former Premier, I did phone the newly elected Premier and wished him the very best. I say to us all that if we truly love TCI, we should not wish ill. I said it as Premier and I will continue to say that to wish ill on a government as a citizen can be likened to you wishing a plane crash while you are on board.

I sincerely hope that the new government will be able to deliver for the people of the Turks and Caicos because at the time of challenge and amidst this raging pandemic, they deserve strong and decisive leadership.

The people’s success depends almost entirely on their Government’s success in office.

I will urge the new government to continue to look out especially for the most marginal among us, and for those who have been beaten down by this pandemic.

Our Party’s mission of lifting people up, must now be co-opted by this new government – for if it is and if it does it will be in the interest of all the people we came into politics to fight for.

I will personally back the government in following through on its promise to give each voter $2,000 for 3 months and to giving Civil Servants a portion of their salaries for a stimulus, in addition to the policies we had ready set in motion to ensure that people do not fall through the cracks which includes the completion of the current stimulus of $600 for TC Islanders only and for the payment of the $200 household grocery assistance in place of the package of groceries determined logistically to be difficult and then delayed because of elections.

I have been transparent on reporting on the country’s finances and invite the Minister of Finance to continue to do the same. Whilst anyone can find the November’s Report on Government Finances available on the Government’s Website, one will soon be able to see the latest Monthly Report (December) and 3rd Quarter Report that was presented at the last Cabinet last Monday which showed our continued use of savings to cover Government’s commitments and the stimulus offered, the restricted cash (money that can not be touched) at the end of November which includes an amount for the 90 day cash requirement under the UK Framework Agreement, the balances in the National Forfeiture Fund and TCI National Wealth Fund accounts and contracts already awarded. It will also show a high operating deficit, low and depleting reserves, poor performing revenue streams, high expenditure and debt of about $1.1m. The loan for $80m secured is left for drawing down and as reported publicly, it was decided best to leave larger borrowing to a Government with a fresh mandate. The matter of Budget preparation is urgent and it is for the Government of the day to set its priorities.

However, the need to invest in new sectors of the economy is as urgent today as it was yesterday.

And our tasks as citizens are to ensure that they follow up on that.

While in the coming days and weeks, there will be an ongoing post mortem on our term as government, I want it be known that throughout these four years – and against many odds – we have kept the faith and uphold the honor of governance.

We achieved many things against many odds.

But inspite of that, the people have resoundingly decided that they wanted a different tone, and a different direction; and as believers in democracy, we have to respect that for it was the people’s choice that gave us an opportunity four years ago.

In every endeavor, you would always wish you could have done more; and you always wished the many things you did, you could have done even better, but never for one day did we short-change the people or misled them and for this I am proudest.

For all the things we did and did not do – one thing was consistent. We kept the trust.

As the Premier and the leader of the PDM, I took responsibility for the many successes and I too must take full responsibility for the losses.

Though many thousands are disappointed around the country, we will do well to remember the best of times.
This is not the moment to turn on each other; it is not a time for recriminations.

While it is human to always wonder what might have been, we can forever cherish what has been — the many people who were touched by our policies and the many projects we embarked on, with the Vision of 2040 – a blueprint we have left for this new government to pick up on.

Four years ago, you elevated me to one of the most powerful positions in this land; and we made history together.

I will be forever grateful for the support you have given me, and the opportunity I had to serve.

I want to thank publicly all the PDM candidates who sacrificed so much to put themselves up in this election – and I want to especially thank their families as well who have had to loan their loved ones to the wider community.

Let me also express on a personal level, gratitude to my family especially my husband and my two daughters, who were always the lights in my life at the darkest moments. They have consistently been, without complaint, my refuge and my strength. When the political storms came in, I was battered down by their love.

The great British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher once said: Being prime minister is a lonely job… you cannot lead from the crowd. I have lived that, and come to know that. But having known what I know now, still would not change my experience and my opportunity for anything.

And whilst our Party has lost its bid to lead, it does not take away from the fact that the PDM remains a Great Institution which has shown throughout history – and repeatedly so – that it is the most consistent force at the vanguard of national development.

I must thank the North and South Backsalina communities who stood with our Great Party through a similar defeat years ago and who have again done the same. You are champions and I appreciate you!

Our Party is an Institution and it will take a new generation to carry it forward to its full potential. The immediate task at hand will be with Hon Edwin Astwood, who has become the Opposition Leader. But there is also a whole new generation willing and able to take on the mantle, and to usher in a new era.

On Saturday, I officially handed in my resignation as leader of the PDM, and clear the way for the rank and file to decide on a new leader; a position that I have held since December 2012. This is the right and proper thing to do. And I have now had an opportunity to discuss it with Party Executives. During this time, I served as Leader of the Opposition and as Premier. My exit from active politics marks nearly 12 years of service following on from the Consultative Forum. There are a new breed of leaders waiting and many have already entered and I encourage them to stay committed; do not disappear. TCI needs you!

While I will take a long overdue break to recharge, I will always be here for this great party that I had the honor to lead. I wish to thank my Party and my PDM family for the opportunity and for all the support over the years. When first elected as Leader in December 2012, I was not present at the Meeting and to this date, I have enjoyed a level of confidence that kept me focused even among the criticisms and personal attacks.

While these difficult results will put this movement on pause, it cannot be stopped – for it is a movement that is bigger than any one of us; one that continues to enjoy a good legacy. I leave this Office with my head held high as did my former Leaders and after making significant progressive steps towards a brighter tomorrow.

The dream of lifting our people up – shall never become irrelevant or grow old.

The dream lives on! It shall never die!

Thank you again to the members of the Civil Service and members of Cabinet who assisted in delivering on our mandate to uplift and deliver transformational changes.

I say to my supporters and those who voted for the PDM Party, be encouraged; this is not your defeat. This on the other hand though is a victory for those that voted in majority for a new direction. Do not be upset by persons who used their power, for it was that same power that allowed my Team and I to achieve all we did.

It may have been a turbulent 4 yrs but it was a blessed and productive time for TCI and I thank God for all He brought us through together. I maintain that we must be a grateful people; grateful to God and not ungrateful for He is indeed good to TCI.

I have served 12 continuous years at the forefront in the political arena serving  through the Consultative Forum  to Leader of the Opposition to Premier.  I have a record of doing what others have never dared to or done. I will as before I enter politics, continue my life of service. I remain humbled for the opportunity to serve and know that these last four years when recorded will stand out in the Halls of History as a time of great challenge but also a time of great achievement.

It has been an honor Turks and Caicos.

May God bless you and may He continue to bless these beautiful by Nature Turks and Caicos Islands.

Peace And Love To All!

May God bless you!

Bahamas News

PM Davis’ Remarks at Wreath Laying Ceremony – Majority Rule Day 2022

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Happy Majority Rule Day to all and thank you for coming

I thank the organizers of this wreath laying ceremony because this auspicious occasion is a symbolic reminder of the significant role the Progressive Liberal Party and the Father of the Nation played in bringing about one of the most consequential and transformational events in our history, eclipsed only by the abolition of slavery in 1834.

With the addition of National Independence on 10th July 1973, these three epic events changed the course of Bahamian history forever and etched in the annals of history the Bahamian national identity and the depth of our indomitable spirit.

We must never grow weary of telling our story lest we lose our identity and heritage as a people.

Further — and more nationally — as a free, modern, democratic and independent state, history must record that Majority Rule Day is also an occasion where all Bahamians come together to reflect on and celebrate the enduring principles of democracy.  Today then, I stand with my Bahamian brothers and sisters from all walks of life in memorializing this day as a seminal moment in the ever-evolving Bahamian story.

MAJORITY RULE IS A MAJOR TRIUMPH FOR DEMOCRACY AND FREEDOM, HUMANITARIAN PRINCIPLES THAT WE HOLD NEAR AND DEAR TO OUR HEARTS.  THESE PRINCIPLES ARE ALSO THE CHIEF PHILOSOPHICAL CORNER STONES AND PILLARS ON WHICH THIS COUNTRY WAS BUILT AND WILL SUSTAIN US FOR GENERATIONS TO COME.

We must never allow our detractors to minimize, trivialize or relegate this great day and event to the scrap heap of historical irrelevance. To do so is to dishonour the vision, memory and legacy of those great courageous souls on whose shoulders we stand.

We cannot and must not conveniently disinherit our glorious legacy because our truth is inconvenient to some.

A cause rooted in social justice, freedom fighters courageously stood in the vanguard of change – unyielding in their demand that all were created equal — with God-given rights to human dignity without regard to race, gender, colour or creed. This stand of conscience galvanized a nation, a generation of Bahamians, and in the process significantly reshaped the character and national identity of The Bahamas forever.

I pay tribute to the many unsung heroes and heroines whose endearing and enduring legacies of selflessness and shared sacrifices remain the gold standard of our national culture in both public life and in the way we conduct our personal affairs with one another.

I continue to draw, conviction, inspiration and influence from the passion of the Suffragettes, the labour movement, the church and from countless Bahamians who put it all on the line to secure a more perfect Commonwealth.

Speaking of passion, conviction, inspiration and influence, I wish to take a moment to recount the role the late Sir Sidney Poitier played and the contributions he made during our journey to Majority Rule.

As a Bahamian with dual citizenship, Sir Sidney used his celebrity status in the struggle for civil rights —  fighting racism, bigotry and injustice in both the United States and The Bahamas.

Many Bahamians still recall his speaking to the issue at a reception in his honour to the then United Bahamian Party (UBP) government in recognition of his Academy Award for ‘Lilies of the Field.’

A well-known story in PLP circles is his assistance to the Progressive Liberal Party in the run up to the 1967 general elections. There is an iconic photo of Sir Sidney and Sir Lynden at the back of an open limousine celebrating the 1967 victory.

May he rest in peace.

As a beneficiary of their sacrificial work, I thank them all — Sir Lynden Pindling, Sir Milo Butler, Sir Randal Fawkes, Sir Clifford Darling, Dame Doris Johnson and Sir Sidney Poitier — for their passion, faith, perseverance and uncompromising commitment to social justice, democracy, freedom and a sense of fair play.

It is indeed an honour and a privilege to stand on their broad proverbial shoulders to continue their invaluable work in building a stronger and more perfect Commonwealth to positively impact the lives of generations yet unborn.

Our cause is indeed national, inclusive and intergenerational in its nature, range and scope.

On behalf of my wife Ann Marie, my cabinet and parliamentary colleagues, my government, the officers and members of the Progressive Liberal Party, I extend best wishes and highest regards to the people of The Bahamas as we celebrate Fifty-Five years of Majority Rule.

May Almighty God continue to bless the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

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Fulford says TCI’s Judiciary will be Established as a Regional Leader under CJ Agyeman

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#TurksandCaicos, January 15, 2022 – The Legal Year 2022 opened on January 4th 2022 in a hybrid fashion, where the Chief Justice, Court of Appeal Judges, Supreme Court Judges, Magistrates and other Official participants hosted the ceremony at the Supreme Court building in person and where Attorneys and other dignitaries attended remotely via zoom link.

The ceremony today marked a welcomed improvement from last year, where covid19 numbers caused the 2021 opening ceremony to be in a strictly virtual fashion for all attendees.

This year’s ceremony saw a cadre of achievements listed by the Chief Justice in her short tenure such as:

  1. New Legal Aid Rules
  2. Establishment of a new Legal Aid Panel
  3. Establishment of a Legal Aid Roster for Civil and Criminal Matters
  4. Implementation of an 18 Month end date for Legal Aid Matters
  5. Establishment of a complaint mechanism for grievances against attorneys
  6. Establishment of Interim Payments
  7. Establishment of Legal Aid for Civil Cases
  8. Waiver of Supreme Court Fees for Civil Cases conducted under legal aid
  9. Establishment of Early Legal Aid from the investigative process.
  10. Establishment of Duty Counsels – where Legal Aid will allow those arrested on suspicion of crimes to have an attorney before charge;
  11. Legal Aid will extend to constitutional rights, habeus corpus, judicial review, domestic violence, contentions probate matters, welfare of Children matters, landlord dispute matters;
  12. Court Connected Mediation Rules
  13. Court to now promote ADR
  14. Establishment of Court mandated Alternative Dispute Resolution
  15. Creation of a Mediation Committee
  16. 42 Mediators are Trained
  17. Creation of a Roster of Mediators -11 are presently on the Roster
  18. Consultation has begun on restorative justice to pay reparation for Offences to promote reconciliation
  19. Establishment of Queens Counsel Selection Panel
  20. Establishment of Alternative Sentencing Guidelines
  21. Establishment of the first ever Bail Ordinance
  22. Establishment of a Sentencing Deadline Committee
  23. Establishment of a Magistrate Rules Committee
  24. Establishment of the Civil Procedure Rules Committee
  25. Establishment of Hybrid Hearings to allow Jury Trials to take place.
  26. Establishment of a Court/Legal Library;
  27. Continuous population of TCILII with judgements
  28. Re-Constitution of the Judicial Education Committee JEI
  29.  JEI three workshops held for Court Staff
  30.  JEI programs to equip Court Clerks with Paralegal training
  31. JEI trained the Bailiffs on Self Defence
  32. JEI armed Bailiffs with body cameras
  33.  Establishment of Registrar of Magistrate Courts
  34. Onboarding of two Judicial Research Assistants
  35.  Establishment of Code of Conduct for the Judiciary
  36. The House of Assembly have voted to provide 3 million dollars toward a state-of-the-art court building for The Judiciary.
  37. Two Buildings have been located and will be retrofitted to be used as Magistrate Courts in South Caicos and North Caicos.

Chief Justice Agyeman laid out other initiatives of the Judiciary and other Strategic priorities are as follows for 2022:

  1. The E-Judiciary initiatives will continue, that will provide paperless access to the digital platform.
  2. A dedicated space for ADR, being a center for parties to undertake mediation
  3. Legislation to bring clarity to Judicial officers is underway.
  4. Ethics and Integrity Training for Court Staff.
  5. Extensive electronic infrastructure is being implemented to improve virtual proceedings
  6. Ongoing work addressing gaps in treatment of Mental Health Issues  and Juveniles in criminal justice
  7. A CJSG which is a collaboration of all stakeholders of justice that serves the public and is striving to provide a multi-level approach to provide access to quality criminal justice.
  8. The CJSG will also be publishing a calendar of community initiatives it will undertake to bring its work to the people they exist to serve.

Fulford views Chief Justice Mabel Agyeman in her role as Head of the Judiciary, as a Judge who sets goals and achieves them despite arduous challenges. The way in which the Chief Justice relentlessly pursues the Judiciary’s goals bodes well for the jurisdiction and no doubt her record of achievement in her short tenue will cause the TCI Judiciary to become known as a regional leader.

Fulford noted that the Turks and Caicos Islands’ Judiciary continues to grow from strength to strength because of the Chief Justice’s resourcefulness, perseverance and commitment to modernization and improvement.

Chief Justice Agyeman thanked the DPP personally and his office for assisting in the many Judiciary reforms. Further thanks were given to the Attorney General and the Bar Association through its President who was on hand to give and receive the remarks.  Many thanks were Given to the Governor, Deputy Governor, Premier, Cabinet and Parliament for the support to the Judiciary.

Chief Justice Agyeman specially thanked the Acting Court Administrator Mrs Barbara Jervis, Her Registrar Ms Renee McLean and her Judicial Assistant Ms. Aisha DeFour.

In closing, The Hon. Chief Justice renewed her commitment and that of the entire Judiciary to continue to improve access to quality justice for all in TCI and to be untiring in their efforts to follow through on the plans outlined for 2022, and continue to strive to position the Judiciary to attain the stature of a resilient, and accountable institution.

Fulford indicated, it’s an opportune time to be serving the public in the legal profession.

 

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Oil fund could repair crumbling infrastructure, improve health, education systems

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By Kemol King

Guyana DPI

 

#Guyana, January 15, 2022 – Minister within the Ministry of Public Works, Deodat Indar, said the public school and healthcare systems, along with the country’s infrastructure network, could benefit from the development that will come from Guyana’s oil money.

He made the comments during a virtual interview with Globespan on Wednesday.

“Our government has been clear that… oil and gas will be used – there are some infrastructural issues.

Look at some of the infrastructure that we were left with. Look at some of the ports and the harbours, the roads, the bridges, look at them. A lot of them are dilapidated. Now, we are starting to build them.

We have health systems; we have educational systems that need help. It’s the poor people that have to go to the hospital. It’s the poor people that go to the public schools…”

He added that investments can also be made into reducing the costs of certain services like electricity, or into building the capacity of law enforcement to fight crime.

The minister said these sectors are where some of the major problems are, and act as bugbears for the country.

Already, the government has started rolling out an extensive infrastructure plan, building and repairing roads and highways across the country. The government has initiated processes for the construction of major infrastructural projects such as the Demerara River Crossing.

Investments are being made into upgrading healthcare facilities into modern sustainable providers for the poorest citizens.

In education, the government has provided 6,000 scholarships for ordinary Guyanese, and there are thousands more to come.

Minister Indar reminded that all the work government has done so far since taking up office in August 2020, have been done without using the oil money.

Some US$607 million sits in the Natural Resource Fund. The government has maintained that it would not spend a cent until a new Natural Resource Fund Act is in place. This was passed by the National Assembly and assented to by His Excellency Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali in December.

The Act allows the government to withdraw the total balance of the Fund in the first year. The Ministry of Finance explained that it is important for Guyana to use its resources to fund its development agenda, instead of burdening Guyana with unsustainable debt. Even then, Minister Indar explained that the withdrawal rule moving forward will allow significant sums to be saved and be accrued, given expected ramp-ups in offshore oil production.

 

 

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