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

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#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.

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South Caicos Development Plans shared with Washington-Misick led Administration

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On Monday, 12 February 2024, the Premier led a delegation to tour the island of South Caicos to view the ongoing public and private sector projects, involving the remodelling and rebranding of the airport terminals, historical districts, and the East Bay Hotel.

The tour of the various developments reinforced the Government’s commitment to collaborating with stakeholders to boost the island’s activity and economy.

Photos courtesy of the TCI Office of the Premier

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Ministry of Tourism continues to get rid of dilapidated structures

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By LINDSAY THOMPSON

Bahamas Information Services

NASSAU, The Bahamas – The Ministry of Tourism, Investments and Aviation is continuing to rid areas of derelict and dilapidated structures posing safety problems, and a threat to the overall tourism product.

In this vein the recent structure to be demolished was the Gaming Board building owned by the Hotel Corporation.  Located adjacent to Goodman’s Bay Beach on West Bay Street, it was formerly the Sir Harry Oakes property; the northern portion once housed Bahamas Information Services for several years.

 


On hand to witness the demolition were Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Investments and Aviation the Hon. Chester Cooper, and Senator Randy Rolle, Global Consultant, MOTIA.

The demolition started on Monday, February 5, 2024 by Virgo Construction headed by the contractor Terry Delancy.  

DPM Cooper explained that the government felt the Gaming Board building should no longer sit there in a derelict manner, and continue to be an eyesore and pose safety concerns.

“Goodman’s Bay will be enhanced as a result of getting rid of this building. It will be more aesthetically pleasing for residents who traverse this area. Women who walk in the mornings in particular through these areas will be pleased to see that this has become a green space, rather than a derelict structure,” he said.

DPM Cooper also noted that his ministry consulted broadly with the Antiquities, Monuments & Museums Corporation (AMMC), and other historians before proceeding with demolition.

“We are sure not to take any actions as it relates to buildings, without consultation. So they were very comfortable with the process and we continue to work closely with them on all of the buildings that we have demolished in the downtown area,” he said.

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Ms. Camilla Lightbourne joins Experience Turks and Caicos team

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Experience Turks and Caicos is pleased to welcome Ms. Camilla Lightbourne to the post of Executive Assistant to the CEO effective February 06th, 2024.

Ms. Lightbourne is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree a DeVry University in Florida and previously worked as an Import Logistics Associate at Graceway Trading Ltd. and a Business Account Executive at Digicel.

In welcoming Ms. Lightbourne to the team, Ms. Racquel Brown, Change Manager and Interim CEO of Experience Turks and Caicos said Ms. Lightbourne’s appointment underscores the growth of the organisation.

“Experience Turks and Caicos is growing as we fill out key positions and responsibilities in the organization. As such, it has become necessary to bolster the CEO’s office by adding an Executive Assistant to work with the CEO on the effective administration of the day-to-day tasks. I look forward to working with Ms. Lightbourne in this regard,” she said.

Ms. Lightbourne said she is pleased to be part of the Experience Turks and Caicos team.

“I am elated to join such a dynamic organisation. I am looking forward to making my mark in the future development of our country’s tourism product,” she said.

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