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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

Brave presentation in defence of Bahamas’ financial services reputation by PM Davis

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By Sherrica Thompson

Staff Writer

 

#TheBahamas, October 1, 2022 – Prime Minister of the Bahamas Phillip ‘Brave’ Davis is again calling for equality in the financial services sector and for the United Nations to leverage its universal jurisdiction for greater oversight of global anti-money laundering de-risking and tax cooperation matters.

In addressing the United Nations General Assembly on Saturday, September 24, Prime Minister Davis said the Bahamas is one of the best-regulated countries in the world, yet it has been under attack by international bodies and placed on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) blacklist while transgressions in the developed world are ignored.

He questioned why this was the case and highlighted some disparities in the financial sector.

“Why is it that European states that operate frameworks akin to that of high-risk or blacklisted countries, are not even eligible for inclusion on these lists? Why are all the countries targeted – all of them – small and vulnerable, and former colonies of European states? We find it astounding that the $2-$3 trillion dollars which is estimated to be laundered each year through the developed countries, are never flagged as causes for concern,” articulated Phillip Davis, addressing the 77th session in New York.

Prime Minister Davis further noted that there are elements of racism in the decision-making when it comes to regulating black-governed countries in the financial services sector. He also declared that black-governed countries matter as well.

And yet my country, which is widely recognized as one of the best-regulated countries in the world, and other countries like The Bahamas, are singled-out for such reputational attacks? The robust regulatory regimes of our Central Bank, Securities Commission, and Insurance Commission, are chastised on minor details of technical process, while much bigger transgressions in the developed world are ignored.

The evidence is mounting, that the considerations behind these decisions have less to do with compliance, and more to do with darker issues of pre-judged, discriminatory perceptions. Black-governed countries also matter.”

 Davis also highlighted the need for reforms that apply to all in the global financial system.

“Mr. President: We support the call for reforms in the global financial system to make it more relevant to the needs of today. But those reforms need ambition. They need to go beyond the incremental. And they need to apply to all. For example, the community of international financial institutions are in a position to forgive the debt incurred by the economic shutdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic. They should do so.”

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Will US President Biden deliver on Climate Change funding?

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#USA, October 1, 2022 – US President Joe Biden has reiterated his promise that low income countries, which are also low carbon emitters will receive increased climate aid from the US to the tune of $11 billion per year.

The President was speaking at the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly recently where he maintained his administration was working with Congress to get the funds which would ‘help lower-income countries implement their climate goals and ensure a just energy transition.’

The plan was announced in September 2021 and is a reflection of the USA’s part in the 2010 global pledge made by developed countries to give $100 billion annually in climate financing to developing nations each year.  Biden has indicated that the plan will be in effect by 2024.

While he stressed at the UN that the need is ‘enormous’ the President is having trouble convincing lawmakers at home.  So far the funding which must be approved by Congress has not materialized. The United States Congress is known for having a particularly tight hold on the national purse in regards to climate change funding.

In fact congress dedicated only a little over $1 billion to climate change this year according to Bloomberg.  The US also has a history of promising funding for climate change but not delivering on those high priced promises.

Whether this $11 billion will actually get to nations like those in the Caribbean region is yet to be seen.

This year, the General Assembly heard from 190 speakers, including 76 Heads of State, 50 Heads of Government, four Vice-Presidents, five Deputy Prime Ministers, 48 Ministers and seven Heads of Delegations according to General Assembly President Csaba Kőrösi as he summed up the first in-person General Debate since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

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Caribbean News

Hurricane Ian impact on Cayman Islands

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By Sherrica Thompson

Staff Writer

 

#Cayman, October 1, 2022 – The Cayman Islands experienced fierce winds and high seas from Hurricane Ian on Monday, as the storm passed offshore, causing little lasting damage.

Some areas on the island experienced flooding as low-lying condo complexes and some residential back roads were inundated with water. Almost 4,000 homes were without power on Monday; however, most had electricity restored by the evening.

There were also no reports of any injuries, deaths, or serious structural damage.  The country started its restoration process on Monday afternoon, clearing debris from the roads, surveying the damage and providing support to residents where needed.

In a statement on Monday afternoon, Premier of the Cayman Islands Wayne Panton said he was pleased with how residents handled the situation.

“While we have been very fortunate to have been spared the worst of a potentially very serious storm, I’m extremely pleased to have seen the efforts made by the Caymanian public to prepare for ‘the worst, while praying for the best. In this situation, this is simply the safest, most strategic thing to do,” the Premier said

Despite the all-clear being issued on Monday evening, the Ministry of Education announced that government schools will remain closed to students until Wednesday, 28 September.

Meanwhile, in Cuba, authorities have declared emergencies in six areas, with forecasters warning of storm surges on the coast along with flash floods and mudslides.

Tens of thousands of people were told to leave their homes and seek shelter. Cuba could see up to 12 inches of rain from Hurricane Ian.

Hurricane Ian dramatically intensified and is blamed for at least two dozen deaths in Florida; where the storm struck with near category five force winds and a near 20 foot storm surge.

Over 700 rescue operations were activated in Florida in the aftermath of the storm, which is still wreaking havoc in the U.S.

 

Cayman photo credit:  RC Cord

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