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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.


Covid-19 Update for Turks & Caicos



#TurksandCaicos, January 23, 2023 – The Turks and Caicos recorded seven new Covid-19 cases in the period from January 8th to 14th pushing the county’s total active infections to 18.  Four of the seven new cases were in Providenciales and three were recorded in the nation’s capital Grand Turk.

There were six recoveries during the period and the current death toll remains at 38.

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Skerrit holds on as Dominica Prime Minister, Snap Elections decimates the Opposition UWP



By Deandrea Hamilton and Dana Malcolm

Editorial Staff


#Dominica, December 7, 2022 – The big story of the night was not that Roosevelt Skerrit and his Dominican Labour Party were able to hold onto electoral power in Dominica, but that independents caused an upset, denying the DLP a sweep of all 21 seats.

The snap election victory proved not to be a snap for Skerrit, who on a social media aired radio show congratulated the two independent candidates now holding seats in parliament.

Skerrit’s DLP was still unable to sway the constituents of Marigot and Salisbury; they continue to prefer other political options and this time, Anthony S. Charles won the Marigot constituency with 491 votes, securing – unofficially – a popular vote of 59.44 per cent.

Jesma Paul won with 617 votes with a voting turnout of 57.13 per cent and Lynsia Frank of DLP lost, receiving 463 votes 42.87 per cent from the Salisbury Constituency.

In a sixth consecutive political victory, the Dominical Labour Party gained one seat over their 2019 finish.  With a notable boundary change, the DLP took Rousea Central which had last time gone to the now, decimated UWP.

Elections are due every five years in Dominica; this election should have technically been held in 2024, however, Skerrit last month called the General Election early.

As prime minister he has the prerogative to call for an election anytime within the constitutionally mandated timeframe.  Still, the early call and boycott of the process by unprepared political parties drew in two election observer teams.

One from CARICOM, the other from the OAS.

Organization of American States dispatches team led by former Bahamas Prime Minister Perry Christie after concerns were voiced by residents and opposition members on the snap election called by Dominican Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit to be held on December 6th the country’s leaders invited the Organisation of American States to witness the elections.

The OAS spoke to local media after ballots closed around 5pm explaining that for the most part they had not observed any questionable practices.

Perry Christie, former Bahamian Prime Minister who was part of the 16-person team told reporters

“We are aware of the extent to which there was concern about the electoral process. And or job simply is to make a report and recommendations all with the intention of advancing the democracy of this region— we are generally finding that the facilities are adequate, [though] there are one or two recommendations we will make.”

There were 15 seats up for contention since the ruling Dominica Labour Party was elected unopposed in five seats across the country as the main opposition party the United Workers’ Party boycotted the elections.

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Don’t be Spoofed!  Just Hang Up!



By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer


#UnitedKingdom, December 7, 2022 – Spoofing’, it’s a silly sounding word for a very real cybersecurity threat, a sneaky exercise that criminals have used to defraud people around the globe.  In a single operation last month police found that at least 70,000 UK citizens had been scammed out of  £46 million through spoofing.

By now sensitization campaigns and news articles have warned about Lottery scamming and residents may well be aware not to send anyone who promises to make you a millionaire any money but what if the call is coming from your bank?  This is the premise of spoofing.  While it too happens over the phone it differs from lottery scamming in a big way.

“Spoofing is when a caller deliberately falsifies the information transmitted to your caller ID display to disguise their identity.  Scammers often use neighbor spoofing so it appears that an incoming call is coming from a local number, or spoof a number from a company or a government agency that you may already know and trust,” the US Federal Communications Commission explains.

They can choose to appear as tax officers, your local bank, government institutions etc.

So how do you know if someone is trying to use spoofing on you?  And how do you protect yourself and your hard earned money?

The FCC says these scammers usually use a script, because, despite their appearance they don’t actually know you, as soon as the conversation begins. they make it their mission to get as much information about you as possible.

  • Hang up as soon as you get a suspicious call.  Don’t converse, don’t wait.
  • Request their full name, position at the institution they claim to be representing and the name of their manager.  Hang up and call the number listed in the phone book for the institution to verify the authenticity.
  • The FCC says, ‘do not respond to any questions’, especially those that can be answered with “Yes“ or “No.”
  • If you answer the phone and the caller – or a recording – asks you to hit a button to stop getting the calls, you should just hang up.  Scammers often use this trick to identify potential targets.
  • Never give out personal information such as account numbers, Social Security numbers, mother’s maiden names, passwords or other identifying information in response to unexpected calls or if you are at all suspicious.
  • If you have a voice mail account with your phone service, be sure to set a password for it.  Some voicemail services are preset to allow access if you call in from your own phone number.  A hacker could spoof your home phone number and gain access to your voice mail if you do not set a password.

Remember if in doubt just hang up.

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