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TCI: PDM Leader Astwood chimes in on 200 Imported workers at Beaches Resort

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#TurksandCaicos, March 25, 2021 – “I was made aware of a WhatsApp message circulating in regards to Hon. Camillo Gonsalves, Minister of Finance, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, address in his Country’s Parliament that 200 Vincentians are to be hired for Sandals Resort in TCI and this is scheduled to occur in June/July of this year. Subsequent to Hon Musgrove’s response on this matter I have been contacted by a number of concern citizens seeking clarity of the PDM’s position on this.

When the PDM was elected in December 2016, there were no arrangements with Sandals/Beaches during our years as the Government to allow this Program; Not during my years as Minister of Border Control and Labour and not during the years the Ministry of Immigration, Citizenship, Labour and Employment was vested with the Hon. V. Delroy Williams.

On June 19, 2020 the Minister of Immigration, Citizenship, Labour and Employment placed a freeze on ALL first time work permits, which included both Senior and Lower level positions. This policy was still in place up until the PDM left office. We note the new Government has modified this policy to restrict first time work permits for mostly lower level positions.

On July 23, 2020 the Minister of Immigration, Citizenship, Labour and Employment reminded the general public that all persons whose work permits were not renewed or cancelled must leave the country. There were reminders of this over the next few months as persons were also reminded to register as unemployed in order to get first preference for jobs when they became available.

The across the board restriction on first time work permits, and the reminder for persons who were no longer work permit holders to leave the country was critical, because we as a Government were cognizant that there was significant economic fallout due to this pandemic. We recognized there were many Turks and Caicos Islanders in need of employment opportunities and they should not have to compete with work permit holders for the same opportunities.

While cross training can be beneficial, this arrangement, especially at this current time, should be reviewed closely to ensure it is beneficial to Turks and Caicos Islanders currently working in in the hospitality industry, and those TCIs who are currently seeking employment in the industry.

We believe that as the country continues to restore its economy, Turks and Caicos Islanders should be able to fully capitalize on all job openings and the 100% service charge implemented by the PDM Government.

The June/July 2021 timeline, these 200 persons are anticipated to arrive , as stated by Hon. Gonsalves, is around the same time when many of our students will be graduating from high school and university. Therefore, in addition to Turks and Caicos Islanders who are currently unemployed and underemployed, we will have recent high school and university graduates that will be seeking employment.

Where possible Beaches Resort TCI should fill those 200 available positions with Turks and Caicos Islanders.

I strongly suggest that the Government carries out a country wide employment registration drive to fully capture all Turks and Caicos Islanders who employment status has changed since the onset of this pandemic.  This should also be done in tandem of reviewing the Business Staffing Plans of companies to ensure Turks and Caicos Islanders are placed in positions which allows for upward mobility.

I also note the public statements from those in official quarters stating that this arrangement was agreed by the former PDM Administration and call on the PNP Government to publicly release any and all Agreements with Beaches as it relates to Immigration matters. The public has a right to have full clarity in this matter. In addition, I call on the PNP Government to fully clarify the contradictory reports given by Beaches who stated that it was working out the details with the new government and the Hon Minister Arlington Musgrove who says he will call a Meeting. There is an urgent need for full transparency and clarification on this matter.”

Bahamas News

Press Release: Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) Bahamas

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February 3, 2023 – ILM Bahamas Centre held its Certificate Presentation Ceremony for Cohort 7.  The cohort consisted of fourteen (14) Senior Immigration Officers from the Department of Immigration.  This Cohort was a hybrid of in-person and online learning. Four of the Immigration Officers were from the Family Islands (Grand Bahama, Abaco, Berry Islands and Eleuthera).

Present at the ceremony were:  The Hon. Keith Bell, Minister of Labour and Immigration, Madam Justice J. Denise Lewis-Johnson, Permanent Secretary Ms. Ceceila Strachan, Executive Chair of NTA Ms. Agatha Marcelle, Executive Director of NTA Mr. Terry Murray, Director of Immigration Mrs. Keturah Ferguson, Deputy Director of Immigration Mr. Dwight Beneby, Ms. Esther McKinney Office Manager at the Department of Immigration.

The guest speaker at the ceremony was Dr. Donald M. McCartney a Leadership and Management Consultant with Motivation Incorporated Bahamas and the United States. He was a former senior public servant.  He was also a First Assistant Secretary in the Ministry of Public Service with responsibility for the Northern Bahamas. He was also a former educator and professor at various colleges in the United States.

In his address to ILM Cohort 7, Dr. McCartney spoke about having the courage to lead and that leadership goes beyond SELF.  It’s not about you or your ego but rather more about contributing to nation building. He said, “We must be prepared to take the bold steps that would not lead us into the abyss of despair but on the road that leads us to lift up our heads to the rising sun and press onward to the mountaintop experience, which will lead us to become the proud and productive people we were destine to be.”  He also expanded on the four fundamental virtues: COURAGE, TEMPERANCE, JUSTICE AND WISDOM.  Additionally, he expanded on the focus and influence of courage, on the ego and discipline.

The Hon. Keith Bell, Minister of Labour and Immigration brought brief remarks on the occasion.  Some of the highlights of his speech were that Immigration is one of the highest revenue earners, challenges within the Department of Immigration such as lack of autonomy from the Public Service as compared to the other armed forces. He also talked about that the fact that the top tier is going to be retired within two years and this would be an opportunity for many of the graduates of this Cohort 7 to gain upward mobility.

He also stated that there needs to be a complete overhaul of the Immigration Act, and a review of the Asylum Bill.  Furthermore, he discussed the inevitable need for the relocation of the Department of Immigration from its current location. Lastly, he stated that we must tread a delicate balance between enforcing the law and being humane, in regards to shanty towns.

It is noteworthy that the ILM Centre at the National Training Agency recently obtained a Centre upgrade.  The ILM Centre Bahamas now hold the statue of Direct Claim Status with City and Guilds of London. Additionally, the Centre is now registered with the National Accreditation and Equivalency Council of the Bahamas (NAECOB) for all of its current course offerings. The ILM Department is lead Miss Pamela Gomez as the ILM Centre Coordinator. Registration is now open for Level 2 Certificate in Leadership and Team Skill and Level 3 Certificate in Leadership and Management. Our mission statement is, “Helping people, organizations, and economies develop their skills for growth.”

For more information, contact the ILM Centre Bahamas located in the Gladstone Road Business Centre by calling 461-6021 or 461-6008.

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Bahamas News

Sugar and salt tax campaigns gaining steam 

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer 

 

 

February 7, 2023 – A global battle on sugar and salt is ramping up as the United States joins The Bahamas and Barbados in creating proposals for historic sugar and salt laws.

The country’s Agricultural Department for the first time in history, proposed a cap on the amount of sugar to be allowed in school meals.

The World Health Organization has found that North America and the Caribbean have the highest rates of childhood diabetes in the world and based on the International Diabetes Federation’s Diabetes Atlas we also have the second highest prevalence of Diabetes overall for all global regions at 14 percent  or 51 million people with a projected 24 percent increase in just 22 years.

Barbados, the United States, Canada, Haiti, Mexico, Belize and St. Kitts and Nevis are all suffering from incredibly high rates of diabetes.

Barbados and The Bahamas announced sugar taxes last month; the hope is to reduce the importation and sale of sugar and salt rich foods.

Advocates across the Caribbean including Jamaica, Trinidad, and others have been campaigning for sugar taxes in their own countries with support from the public.

Now the proposed nutritional rules for the United States would set firm boundaries on how much salt and sugar can legally be added to meals, setting a new standard as most food imports for countries like The Bahamas are from the US.

The plan for the US is expected to be rolled out by 2025.

The rules, are unapologetically an attempt to cut down incidences of diabetes and other diseases fueled by unhealthy diets, according to media reports.

For now, the quantities on sugar and salt additives is an idea waiting wider consultation.

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Government

Texas bans TikTok from government agencies 

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By Dana Malcolm 

Staff Writer

#USA, February 7, 2023 – Chinese owned TikTok has officially been banned from Government devices in another US State following the passing of a new law banning the social media app on Federal devices in December.  Texas Governor Greg Abott made the decision for his state following Virginia, Maryland, Alabama and Utah.

In a statement posted to his website Abbott said “The security risks associated with the use of TikTok on devices used to conduct the important business of our state must not be underestimated or ignored.”

He also claimed the app was harvesting significant amounts of data from users’ phones, maintaining the ban was necessary to  protect Texas’ sensitive information from threats.

The ban on downloading and use will apply to both state and personal devices with internet connectivity  that are used to conduct state business including cell phones, laptops, tablets and desktops.

It also prohibits residents from conducting state business with devices that have TikTok or other ‘prohibited technology’ enabled on them and bans any device with this technology from entry and use in sensitive areas, locations or meetings. The ban must be in effect by February 15 in all state agencies. There was no indication it would affect devices, personal or otherwise, not used to conduct state business.

The ban comes amidst increased tensions between the country and the Republic of China over a spy balloon that was sent into US airspace by China and then shot down by the US.

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