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No plan for COVID rule wage losses; Gov’t favouring curfews over lockdowns



#TurksandCaicos, February 17, 2021 – The crippling 6 p.m. curfew for Turks and Caicos is gone but so are wages for individuals and companies who made their income in the evening hours.  A string of snap regulations shifting here or there every two weeks is designed to cut down on new cases of COVID, instead it is cutting down revenue and income.

“We say we can go back to 9 o’clock where 8 o’clock businesses close to try and keep that balance between lives and livelihoods, protecting you from Covid-19 but still allowing you to make a living,” said Edwin Astwood, Minister of Health in a Monday press conference.

The Minister said the Cabinet has to make tough choices; will it be a curfew or a lockdown is what the men and women seated in the room are weighing as infection figures soar.

The curfew is considered the lesser of two evils and it is.  Government still has no stated plan to pay any more monies out to residents and business owners to soften the blow of these unrelenting and revenue stunting restrictions.  When a curfew steals a few hours; a lock down freezes activity all together. 

“I do not want to talk for the Ministry of Finance or the Minister of Finance.  We know that persons are hurting and that is why we are here today always balancing lives and livelihoods, said Minister Astwood.

Earlier in the day on February 15, a fortnightly Cabinet meeting was held.  Unless there is an emergency, it is the last session to take place prior to the General Election which is this Friday February 19.

The curfew is now pushed to a later time; 9 p.m. but with it comes the rule for no patrons to be allowed into businesses.  Individuals are to buy their food and drink to go or curbside and no hanging out or gaming is allowed. 

It is a measure which is being met with push back.  Lounges and gaming parlours are still opening their doors to customers who sit, stay and play.

Parties are also forbidden at this time and there is chatter that residents are still renting private villas to hold parties, out of plain sight.  Parties were fingered for the resurgence in coronavirus cases following the Christmas holidays.

 “…there are a few persons who are making it bad for all Turks and Caicos Islanders,” said Minister Edwin Astwood, who announced the measures in a Facebook Live broadcast on Monday evening, “We don’t like the measures, I certainly hope that we can reach to a point that we see the curve continue to flatten, as we are seeing now.”

Government remains satisfied with a ticketing system, though there are calls to criminalise the offenses given the severe losses being recorded to the public purse, economic activity and household incomes.

“We do not like the measures,” explained the Minister who also offered, “The Hon Premier has been talking about what other stimulus can be given to people going forward.  Certainly as soon as the House of Assembly is back in session after the elections, you will hear more of those things being debated and trust me, passed in the House of Assembly.”

When the last stimulus report was issued on January 29, it revealed that 3,129 applications for the second round of financial support were received.  Of this 1,130 were disbursed for payment.  It meant 1,199 people did not receive the $600.  The report explained that 850 applications were still being processed; 300 was due to get money by end of January; 558 applications were declined, the reason went unstated and 583 applications were in limbo due to missing documentation.

The TCIG $25 million Stimulus budget was not completely exhausted up to December 2020; the report to the HOA Appropriations Committee reflected a $5.5 million reduction in funding to the Economic Stimulus plan.  The same report informed that the Committee approved $19.3 million as the new budgeted sum for the stimulus, a figure which fell nearly $12 million below the previously budgeted $25 million dollars for financial support to workers and businesses amidst the pandemic.

On the day of the dissolution of the House of Assembly, Sharlene Robinson, TCI Premier and Finance Minister informed good use would be made of the untapped millions.


International Community must address conflict between Israel and Iran



Garfield Ekon

Staff Writer

With tensions between Israel and Iran at an all-time high, a United Nations affiliated group is urging for calm and dialogue as their violent actions can cause tragic devastation on innocent civilians.

According to Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light (HWPL), an organisation that is dedicated to promoting peace through civilian-led initiatives, “it is a clear indication that the greatest victims of war are innocent civilians. 

How could those lost lives ever be brought back? What could compensate for the outcry of children and the anguish of the youth in devastated dwellings?,” the group noted in a media statement, adding that  the international community should  take “decisive measures” to address the conflict.

It is also advocating for the establishment of “comprehensive international laws” to safeguard peace for future generations. “HWPL remains steadfast in its commitment to fostering dialogue and reconciliation, offering hope for a peaceful resolution to the conflict between Israel and Iran,” the group said.

HWPL is a non-profit organisation, with a mission to promoting peace through education, and advocacy. It has a global network spanning over 170 countries. The organisation works to build bridges of understanding and cooperation, striving towards a world free from conflict and violence.

According to reports in various international media outlets, Iran and its militant partners on April 13 initiated a large-scale attack against Israel through launching several hundred ballistic missiles and drones. The international society expressed concerns over the possibility of war between the two states, since Tehran’s direct attack on Israel was unprecedented.

Experts have pointed out that the attack on Israel was Iran’s response to an airstrike on the Iranian embassy in Syria on April 1, which killed seven military advisers including three senior commanders.

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CTO’s Sustainable Tourism Conference Presents Dynamic Study Tours to Promote Sustainable Practices



The Caribbean Sustainable Tourism Conference (STC 2024), slated for April 22-24, 2024 in Grenada, will feature a series of exclusive study tours aligned with the conference theme, The 5 Ps – People, Planet, Prosperity, Purpose and Partnership. These tours have been thoughtfully curated to offer participants an enriching and unique opportunity to delve into innovative sustainability practices and glean insights intended to catalyze transformative action for a more resilient and sustainable Caribbean.

STC 2024 is jointly hosted by the Caribbean Tourism Organization in collaboration with the Government of Grenada, through the Grenada Tourism Authority, and will welcome a wide range of participants, including government officials, tourism professionals, environmentalists, members of the media and researchers.

This valuable addition to the conference will allow participants to visit various sites and interact with local communities, gaining firsthand knowledge of best practices in sustainable tourism management, conservation efforts, and community engagement. 

Study Tour Options:

  • The Underwater Sculpture Park/Grand Anse Artificial Reef Tour: Led by Aquanauts Grenada, guests dive into the intricate ecosystem of the Underwater Sculpture Park and Grand Anse Artificial Reef and learn about sustainable practices aimed at protecting and preserving these vital marine habitats.
  • Grand Etang Nature Tour: Dr. Guido Marcelle, an esteemed botanist, guides participants through the lush rainforests surrounding Grand Etang Lake to explore Grenada’s rich biodiversity and gain valuable insights into rainforest conservation efforts.
  • The Rasta Roots Expedition: Immersive Journey into Rastafari Culture and Lands: Led by Ras Ginga, an elder of the Nyahbinghi Tribe, guests experience the Rastafari culture firsthand, learning about organic living practices and farming practices of Grenada’s Rastafari community, complete with a taste of local culinary delights.
  • Mt. Parnassus Plantation and Cocoa Pod Botanicals: Experts Michael Jessamy and Tricia Simon guide participants through the cocoa and spice plantation, uncovering innovative applications of these crops in cosmetics and health products.

The conference’s diverse program, comprising presentations, panel discussions, workshops, study tours and networking opportunities, aims to foster collaboration and facilitate knowledge sharing to advance sustainable tourism in the Caribbean region.

Event sponsors and partners include interCaribbean Airways; Royal Caribbean International; Silversands Grenada; Six Senses La Sagesse, Grenada’s newest resort; and LINK Strategic Partners, an international strategic communications and community engagement consulting firm with offices across the U.S. and in Manchester, England.

 Visit for further information about the conference and registration details. To learn more about the Grenada Tourism Authority, visit

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RTCIPF Observes World Down Syndrome Day



On March 21st, 2024, the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force joined the international, regional and local communities in observing World Down Syndrome Day. 

Officers showed their support by wearing brightly coloured and mismatched socks to raise awareness. 

The head of the Safeguarding and Public Protection Unit, Assistant Superintendent of Police Grantley Williams, Training Manager Mrs Odessa Forbes and Media Relations Officer Denyse Renne visited the SNAP Centre and interacted with the students.

In a message to the TCI community, the RTCIPF noted that stereotypes perpetuate stigma and hinder inclusion, preventing individuals from reaching their full potential. 

Instead, the RTCIPF calls for individuals to foster an environment of acceptance and support where everyone is valued for who they are. 

By breaking down barriers and challenging misconceptions, we can create a more inclusive society where individuals with Down Syndrome are empowered to live fulfilling lives and contribute meaningfully to their communities and, by extension, the TCI. 

As law enforcement officers, we must protect and serve all members of society, regardless of their abilities. 

Let’s work together to ensure that individuals with Down Syndrome are treated with dignity and respect and that their rights are upheld.

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