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IFES Statement on TCI Elections: ‘Successfully Conducted During Challenging COVID-19 Pandemic’

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FULL STATEMENT:  An independent team of elections experts from the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) conducted an in-person technical observation and assessment of the Turks and Caicos Islands’ (TCI) February 19, 2021, general elections. This included a range of in-person and virtual consultations, and individual visits to all polling stations throughout TCI with the exception of South Caicos Island. This represented 30 of the 33 polling stations set up in Providenciales, North Caicos, Middle Caicos and Grand Turk. IFES also monitored traditional and social media around the election and its aftermath.

The House of Assembly consists of 19 members, 15 of whom are elected and four appointed. Of the 15 elected members, 10 are elected to represent geographic districts in 10 single-member constituencies, while five members are elected in a single “All Islands” district. In 2021, 47 candidates (nine female and 38 male) contested these 15 seats.

The 2021 elections were conducted following recent legislative reforms in December 2020, and in the midst of a COVID-19 spike on TCI. Despite these challenges, the election administration authorities developed and implemented successful protocols to reduce potential exposure and/or transmission of the virus, and to improve the efficiency of the polling process (for example, by breaking voters into separate stations based on the first letter of their last name, and by dedicating two hours at the start of Election Day to “vulnerable and other priority electors” who could be assisted as needed). Election authorities also conducted extensive poll worker training, including around health protocols, which contributed to the safe and smooth running of the elections.

An Elections Oversight Committee chaired by TCI Governor Nigel Dakin brought together different parts of the government, including health authorities, to discuss and resolve challenges around election preparations during the pandemic. This is viewed as a best practice for these elections generally and should be continued. Consideration could also be given to establishing additional consultations and resolution mechanisms with political stakeholders.

Polling stations were adequately staffed throughout the long polling hours, and election workers carefully implemented COVID-19 mitigation measures. Some minor inconsistencies and variations in application of procedures were observed in some polling stations, but party agents were present in all polling stations visited and generally reported satisfaction with the polling process and the officials administering it. Some polling stations opened slightly late but stayed open late to compensate. Some polling stations included accessibility measures such as adjustable polling booths and ramps, but voters who have low vision or are blind, deaf or hard-of-hearing may have required assistance. Election administrators went to significant lengths to enfranchise prisoners who were eligible to vote.

The distribution of polling sites across TCI, including in areas with very small numbers of voters, was a positive reflection of the election administration authorities’ commitment to ensuring all registered voters had an opportunity to cast a ballot.

These elections saw widespread use of social media by both political parties and independent candidates to campaign, given restrictions on gatherings and curfews. This resulted in more direct appeals that may have been more effective and efficient at reaching more voters. Undecided voters could attend virtual rallies at will. Both political parties maintained active social media campaigns and hosted virtual campaign events. However, disinformation was prevalent throughout the campaign, including via fake WhatsApp messages that spread quickly.

The right to vote is set in the Constitution and is dependent upon reaching the age of 18, being resident in TCI, and being a Turks and Caicos Islander. This latter qualification means that out of an estimated population of approximately 43,000 people, only 8,581 are eligible to select members of the House of Assembly. This is a challenge that will be further elaborated in IFES’ final election assessment report.

While health concerns dampened the usual festive mood around Election Day, there was an atmosphere of quiet confidence and respect for the electoral process throughout the day. Stakeholders had earlier reported confidence in the process established to address any tensions or disputes that might arise during or after Election Day. This confidence was reflected in the relatively strong voter turnout of just over 75 percent. There were a few requests for recounts in constituencies; however the general air of cordiality that characterized the process throughout the day continued. Final results were announced on February 20.

This statement is preliminary and not conclusive. The electoral process will be followed through until conclusion of any potential recounts and/or legal appeals. A final report with recommendations for electoral stakeholders will be submitted to the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office by March 31, 2021. IFES wishes to thank all officials and stakeholders who assisted with the mission and took time to engage with us.

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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JAMAICA: Multibillion-Dollar Shipyard Project Launched

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#Kingston, Jamaica, January 23, 2023 – Economic opportunities are expected to abound for Jamaica, through the establishment of a multibillion-dollar ship repair and maintenance facility in the country.

Called the German Ship Repair Jamaica (GSRJ) Shipyard, the project will provide dry docking (lifting the ship out of the water) for commercial vessels up to 20,000 tons, and a range of maintenance and repair services to vessels operating in and around the Caribbean and Central America.

Phase one of the project, which is to be completed by October/November this year, is being undertaken at an overall cost of nearly $6 billion (or US$37 million), with financial partner Sagicor Bank committing to half of this amount as a bank loan. This will see the first floating dry dock, JAM-DOCK 1, becoming operational.

Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, who  delivered the main address at Tuesday’s (January 24) launch at the Kingston Harbour along the Sir Florizel Glasspole Highway,  said that “this project will earn foreign exchange”.

“It will provide high-quality jobs, and it will contribute greatly to the prosperity of our country,” he added.

Mr. Holness noted that the development will contribute to the positioning of Kingston Harbour as a global logistics hub, pointing out that each year, Jamaica receives approximately 3,000 port calls while approximately 180,000 vessels operate within the region.

“With the investments that are being made in improving Kingston as a logistic hub, we are certain that we have now closed one of the major gaps that have existed and that more ships passing through the region will be inclined to come to Jamaica,” he said.

For his part, GSRJ Limited Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Colonel Martin Rickman, said that the project “represents a new industry for Jamaica with great opportunities for other spin-off businesses, hence even contributing more to the economy”.

He pointed out that Jamaica’s “excellent geo-strategic location” makes the country particularly suitable for having a shipyard.

Detailing the specific operations of the facility, Colonel Rickman explained that “we here at GSRJ Shipyard will be able to lift that ship out of the water to conduct many types of work on the hull, the propeller, engine repairs and the entire nine yards, so this is significant for us”.

By international maritime law, all ships are required to be dry-docked to check for safety and integrity once every five years and attain class certification.

The CEO said that the training component of the project is crucial to enable  workers to meet the international standards to carry out the required operations.

He informed that some persons have already been trained.

In his remarks, President and CEO of Sagicor Group, Christopher Zacca, said that as lead arranger, the organisation is “confident that this new development will make a significant impact on the country’s shipping industry while also contributing to our productive economy”.

“We want all Jamaicans to share the vision of the stakeholders; this is a big deal for Jamaica and we want Kingston to have the leading ship repair and servicing port in the Caribbean,” Mr. Zacca said.

The GSRJ’s partners include Harren and Partner Group, Germany; Kingston Holding, Jamaica; Kloska Group, Germany and HAT-SAN Shipyard, Turkey.

Government agencies involved in the project are the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ), the National Land Agency (NLA), National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), the Attorney General’s Department, and others.

Several private-sector entities are also involved in making the project a reality.

The GSRJ started business in Jamaica in 2016 with the intention to build a ship-repair facility at the Kingston Harbour to boost employment and introduce the country to viable economic activities in the shipping and maritime industry.

 

Contact:  Mickella Anderson

Release: JIS

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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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