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.
Environmental Health Department Recognizes Caribbean Mosquito Awareness Week 2023
Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands May 12, 2023 – Mosquito Awareness Week is fast approaching, and its an important initiative which was established with the approval of CARICOM in 2014 to raise awareness about the link between mosquitoes and the diseases they transmit and to strengthen initiatives aimed at eliminating mosquito breeding sites. Caribbean Mosquito Awareness Week will be observed this year from May 8th – 14th, 2023 under the theme “Small bite, big threat” and slogan “Beat the buzz: Prevent, Protect, Control”.
The Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is present in the Turks and Caicos Islands, can spread diseases such as Dengue, Chikungunya and Zika.
During the Month of May, the Environmental Health Department will be discussing ways to control vector populations and prevent the spread of diseases. This can include using insect repellent, eliminating breeding grounds, and properly disposing of waste.
Vector Control Awareness Month in the TCI is an extension of Mosquito Awareness Week, recognizing the threat posed by mosquitoes and is a reminder that we all have a role to play in preventing the spread of vector-borne diseases. Let’s work together to keep our communities healthy and safe.
For additional information, please contact the Environmental Health Department on 1649-338-2143/44.
Social Services hosts Special Event for TCI Younger Ladies
By Dana Malcolm
#TurksandCaicos, May 2, 2023 – Another edition of the government’s mentorship program “The Lady in Me” was held this week. This time young ladies in Providenciales were the ones being treated. The program targets at-risk adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 years old.
Photos of the beautiful setup shared with our news team show branded gifts waiting for the girls as they spent the two-day event sponsored by UNICEF focusing on how to cultivate healthy physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral well-being.
Students from various schools arrived in uniforms immaculately pressed for the event put on by the Department of Social Services.
Acting Governor Anya Williams was in attendance and expressed faith that the initiative would cause true change.
“It was a pleasure to share with them my insight into the importance of making the right decisions in their youth, which will help to shape their futures and why they should see and value themselves as their greatest asset and to hear from them their goals, aspirations and the challenges that are currently being experienced by our younger generations,” she said.
In introducing the program the Government had said it was aiming to help participants: “examine the adolescence values, competencies, belief systems, inner feelings, motivations, critical thinking, and communication skills,” in order to “build their self-awareness and interpersonal relationships to strengthen their self-esteem— to create a sense of pride and enhance self-respect, self-worth, and self-esteem as they mature and improve personally and professionally.”
The Department said the event was expected to impact 100 girls.
What’s at LJMMA? President explains snazzy equipment
#TheBahamas, March 27, 2023 – Situated on a Cay of its own, the LJM Maritime Academy (LJMMA) is the Bahamas’ only school of its kind and with sponsorships from Campbell Shipping, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, Carnival Cruises, Disney Cruises, and more it boasts an extremely well-equipped campus. The Turks and Caicos Community College (TCICC) is now partnering with the LJMMA to bring those amenities to TCI students through TCICC.
Brendamae Cleare, President of the institution, joined in on a maritime stakeholder meeting introducing the partnership to the Turks and Caicos’ residents on Tuesday, March 21, detailing everything that the LJMMA had to offer.
“We have– classrooms, workshops, a bridge simulator room, a crane simulator, an engine simulator and we also have a GMDSS simulator and radar simulator as well,” she explained.
The simulator building was commissioned to the tune of $30 million and is only in phase one. Also included alongside the fancy simulators, which give students hands-on experience with the boat engines and cranes that they will work with in the future, there are temporary administrative offices, libraries, nurse’s stations and more.
Other buildings on the Cay include, a firefighting simulator and the school even has lifeboat simulators, which mimic what it would be like pushing the lifeboat off the side of a huge vessel and maneuvering it in the ocean.
The Maritime Academy was birthed in 2011 when executives at Campbell Shipping including Lowell J. Mortimer (which is the only Bahamian-owned shipping company Cleare says), realized that there were no Bahamians working on their ships and were determined to change that.
“We had the college of the Bahamas, which is now the University of the Bahamas. We had a technical and vocational institution. We had banking and tourism colleges, but nothing like maritime but [we said] why not maritime?”
And the LJMMA so was born, named after its founder Mortimer. In its first year, it fielded over 180 applications and accepted just over 40 students. It is semi-regimented, which means strict rules for students, just as they would have to abide by on vessels.
The institution is accredited by the National Accreditation and Equivalency Council of the Bahamas, the Bahamas Maritime Authority, the Institute of Materials, Minerals, Mining and others.
Cleare said the vision of the school was to become a globally recognized institution of excellence, in maritime education and training.
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