#TurksandCaicos, February 5, 2021 – This week, one year ago, the Turks and Caicos Ministry of Health held its first press conference informing on the newly detected virus we now know as Covid-19.
“Thank you for being here for this press conference on viruses that may or potential viruses that can affect us here in the Turks and Caicos Islands. We have a team from the Ministry of Health here and also we have Dr. Braithwaite-Tennant from InterHealth Canada, TCI Hospitals.
We have the director of Environmental Health, the acting director of Health Service and the director of disaster prevention training and myself as the Minister of Health,” said Hon Edwin Astwood on January 31, 2020 when he made himself and a team of health officials available to respond to questions on the very novel, Novel Coronavirus which was at the time clawing its way to the top of all news reports around the world.
“We are closely monitoring what is going on with this virus, this new strain of the coronavirus which is happening here and around the world. From January 20, the Ministry of Health had put out our first release.”
Looking back, it is clear from very early on, there was criticism from members of the Public about the perceived lack of information coming from the Ministry regarding the coronavirus. Minister Astwood defended the team and offered that news interviews had been given, supplies were being ordered and Cabinet had already met on the TCI’s early response to the contagion.
“Cabinet paper reached Cabinet this week. For extra manpower, whatever supplies that we think may come up in the even this virus reaches our shores.”
Well the virus did arrive. The first recorded case was on March 23, 2020; said to be a visitor from Italy who mysteriously vanished and about whom no one ever really knew anything about.
At that time, first case individuals were called “Patient Zero”; however this initial positive for the coronavirus in Turks and Caicos did not appear to have contact with those presenting in future positive diagnoses for COVID in the territory.
The country has since recorded 1,590 cases; nine people have died within the Turks and Caicos and the country has lost citizens living or being treated abroad to Covid-19.
Covid has stifled growth, smothered civil liberties, turned working parents into teachers as schools remain on a virtual learning system and shoved the economy into a recession, officially marked by the Ministry of Finance in October 2020.
Findings of an economic study, published online in January 2021 reveal that it has cost the Turks and Caicos $452,466,000; nearly half a billion dollars in a hit to tourism.
“The Turks and Caicos Islands closed its borders to tourists from 23rd March 2020 until 22nd July 2020, resulting in the collection of islands becoming the country to face GDP losses of 37.8%. The Turks and Caicos economy is majoritively dependent on US tourism visiting the luxury holiday destination, meaning this travel ban alone is thought to have cost the country an estimated $22 million a month.” – According to Official ESAT, which conducted a study of the financial toll of the pandemic to travel and tourism worldwide.
Turks and Caicos ranks number three for highest GDP loss, globally, according to this study.
Turks & Caicos Islands Cabinet Report, Meeting held January 10
#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:
- Education, and
- AG Chambers,
- Office of the Deputy Governor, and
- Office of the Governor
Further information on these matters will be provided by Ministers in due course.
JAMAICA: Multibillion-Dollar Shipyard Project Launched
#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
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