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TCI: What if we – TOGETHER – invested the $11 Million?

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#TurksandCaicos, March 8, 2021 – Spanx, now a billion dollar company was launched with just $5,000 of personal savings and family support to a then 27-year old Sara Blakely.

The Ritz-Carlton brand, which we are soon to see officially labelling a new luxury hotel on Grace Bay was started in the 1920s with just under $6 million; now the franchise has 30,000 resort rooms all over the world.

So far be it from possible to think $11 million dollars in capital couldn’t revolutionise the lives of ordinary Turks and Caicos Islanders.

Here is the man who dares us all to dream bigger, instead of flushing a free gift down the consumer toilet. 

Benneth Williams is known as a hard-working man who wears a number of caps which lead him to lend to the development of children, protection of the environment, healthier living and cultural appreciation.

“My father’s name is Arthur Williams and my mother’s name is Winefred McIntosh.  I’m from Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands.  I was brought up in the Bight, Providenciales.  I went to school in South Caicos,” said Williams when we asked him to tell us who he is.

The husband and father goes on to speak about the family he has now built and his personal passions including in sports and environmental sustainability. 

Eventually he gets to the meat of the matter, that the money Government is giving in a cash stimulus could become the gift that keeps on giving.

This story started with Benneth Williams sending to me advice on what to do and what not to do once I received the government-granted $1,000 cash stimulus, as a relief to economic hardships brought on by the Coronavirus Pandemic. 

“Create a budget; address essential needs; add to a personal emergency fund; pay down on debt; help your local community; open a high-yield savings account; invest in yourself and improve your skills; donate to those in need…just my two cents,” said Mr. Williams on March 2, 2021 in a WhatsApp message.

Williams is a man of many opinions and many ideas about what it takes for Turks and Caicos to be better.  He put those thoughts to action, when he offered in the 2016 general elections.  He was not successful in the bid, but this advocate is not silenced.

“You probably don’t want to hear what I think about this $11 million dollars.  I think all of us should collectively open up our own bank and use this $11 million dollars. All of us would have shares or maybe if all of us decided, we’re not going to take this money and invest it in a hotel where all of us have shares in that hotel,” said Williams who added, “I understand there is a hotel on Grace Bay where its profit last year was $126 million dollars.   A hundred and twenty-six million dollars!  I’m not sure if what I heard was right but you’re talking $11 million dollars investing in something where everybody, all 11,000 of us could be shareholders!”

Williams sees the cash grant as a not-to-be-wasted opportunity for financial security of islanders.

The Progressive National Party ran an election campaign which promised residents that a substantial payout of cash was what the effect of the pandemic demanded and what the people of the islands required.

Seven days after taking office, the announcement of a $1,000 hassle-free cash stimulus to all Turks and Caicos Islanders and all British Overseas Territory Citizens (resident in TCI 12-months) came.  Two days later the registration portal was opened and two days after that, residents began receiving e-mail messages that they had been approved for the money.

“People should really consider this money and see what we can do with this money, because you don’t have the money now and you’re still living so maybe use it for something bigger.”

Benneth and Shauna, his wife have been married for 22-years and have three children. 

One son wants to attend what Mr. Williams called, “an expensive football school…” and as parents of the talented athlete, they want to give him the best possible education and experience they can.  Williams said a national coming together of this kind would make that lofty dream more of a reality for Turks and Caicos families.

“This is $11 million dollars and if you give it to me and with my $1,000 I go ahead and invest it, then five years from now what really is my investment going to be? Not much.  But I think if collectively we put that money together and decide that we are going to invest it into something that is tangible and unique to the Turks and Caicos Islands we can see something that our children can say, this is the sacrifice our parents made and this is the reward I am getting right now from their investment, that they did 10 years or 15 years ago.”

Key ideas coming from the swimming and football coach were for a re-boot of a Turks and Caicos bank or a 100% Turks and Caicos Islander owned hotel, in the northwestern end of Providenciales.

“How about that?  Banking with your own bank.  Doing business with your own bank.  Make your money, make money for you.  Or what about a hotel down in Northwest Point?  Nothing much is up there, but there is a hotel in that area raking in millions of dollars.  Why not, we do the same thing!  Villas are making money, private villas are making money and that is the same thing in northwest point.  Let us invest in something that is tangible, that we can have somebody run it and all I am looking at is the bottom line so that I can get the return on my investment.  Something I can use to send my kids to school, I can use to make other investments, I can help my daughter with swimming lessons, help my kid in going to the school he really wants to.”

Williams said so many islanders have to face an often heart-breaking reality when they are unable to provide for their families in more meaningful ways.

Williams said the stifling feeling of lack can all be a thing of the past if recipients of the free-cash were to merge the money for this cause of greater financial security. 

“We don’t own anything in Grace Bay and that can all change.  It’s just my thought, maybe we could invest the money versus all of us going to pay a company that is already raking in millions of dollars to take yourself out of a hole only to still be in indebt years from now.”

The message of Mr. Williams is not a unique one, though at this time it grabs special attention. 

Economic empowerment for Turks and Caicos Islanders is often touted by politicians, preachers, corporate and civic leaders and the layman, but unlike any other time in history, the Government has been given the green light to distribute funds to help and indigenous islanders and those funds could wisely be used to build a revenue generating future.

“We can all sell this destination for ourselves but we have to do it collectively, together and that is all I’m saying.”

Caribbean News

North Caicos man beheaded in what could be TCIs most bizarre murder case yet

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#TurksandCaicos, September 18, 2021 – Explosive talk show host Courtney Misick lost his brother last weekend in a bizarre killing which raised alarm and left residents flabbergasted at the extreme violence, which pointed to a heinous killer being at large in North Caicos.

While police have now made two arrests; giving one suspect bail and holding another on suspicion in the gruesome killing, the pastor, farmer and former election candidate publically questioned the time it took for investigators to arrive at the scene.

He said, in a string of Facebook posts, that it was some six hours before police got there.

Royal TCI Police confirmed the body of the male found in a home in Kew North Caicos; that they got the call at 5:45pm.

“The Police can confirm that the body of a man was found inside a house in Kew, North Caicos and that the body was decapitated. Although formal identification procedures have not yet taken place, the body is believed to be that of 57-year-old old Isaac Missick. The Police are in contact with the next of kin at this difficult time,” informed a Thursday press release.

Rev Misick, at 11:30pm on Saturday posted that investigators from Provo had finally arrived; another team got in on Sunday morning.

Family was disappointed with North Caicos police manpower “wasting hours guarding the crime scene” instead of “looking for Mack-B’s killer.”

Isaac “Mack-B” Missick was beheaded and worst of all, his head could not be found at the scene of the crime.  People were dumbfounded by the monstrous nature of the killing and the family was activated to mount their own hunt for the body part.

There was no success, however, for the family and friends of Mack-B.  Relatives spent the day on Wednesday in Kew battling heat, the blazing sun and swarming mosquitoes in an effort to find the head.

Mack-B’s sister, niece, cousins and eldest son travelled to North from Providenciales determined to give it a try, said Orville Selver, a cousin of the deceased who also described the scope of the search: West of the victim’s house, in the bush from Hall town, to Henfield town, near the house of Mack Bs mother, who died in May this year; on Forbes road and near all the old wells.

The search party which began at 9am fanned out in two groups;” some went on the north side and others went the south side into the deep woods,” he said.

Meanwhile police were questioning two suspects in the case, now ruled a murder.  It is the TCI’s sixth homicide for 2021.

“Today, the Police made an application to the court to seek an extension to the time Officers can keep the arrested man in custody. The court case was adjourned until September 23rd, 2021, during which time the man will be held in police custody. The man arrested on Suspicion of Murder on Sunday, September 12th, 2021, has been released on police bail pending further investigation.”

It will most likely go down as the most gruesome killing in Turks and Caicos history; the beheading of this beloved North Caicos construction worker on Friday or Saturday at his home in Kew.

Our interview of his brother, Rev Missick, unearthed that Mack-B said he had to go home, he did so but never returned to work on Friday September 10.  Upon being missed by some relatives, his cousin set out to check on him and the discovery was gut-wrenching.

Said to be a gory scene as the man, lay on the ground with no head.  While relatives believed the head was at the scene, they later learned that it was missing.

From Police: “This is a very distressing and complex murder that will take time to investigate. However, many specialist Officers are involved in this case, and they are doing everything possible to fully understand the events leading up to this horrific attack. North Caicos is a very close community, and the Police seek their assistance in providing vital information to progress the investigation.”

Isaac Missick, leaves behind a wife and two sons.

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Bahamas News

PRESS RELEASE: Prime Minister Minnis Thanks Bahamians for the Last Four Years

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#TheBahamas, September 18, 2021 – Free National Movement (FNM) Party Leader, Hubert A. Minnis thanked Bahamians for the last four years in tonight’s concession speech:

“Tonight I spoke with Leader of the Progressive Liberal Party Philip Davis and offered my congratulations to him and his party on their victory at the polls.  I offered him my best wishes as his Government now faces the continued fight against COVID-19, and the restoration of our economy.

I would like to thank the tens of thousands of Bahamians from across The Bahamas who voted for Free National Movement candidates.  I also congratulate the FNM candidates who won seats in the House of Assembly.  I am in that number, and again my gratitude goes out to the people of Killarney for making me their representative for the fourth consecutive time.

I will lead the Free National Movement into the House as the leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition.  The Bahamas has a proud democratic tradition.  The people decide who serves as government.  Our party presented its vision for the future to Bahamians from the northern islands of Grand Bahama and Abaco, all the way to the southern islands of MICAL.

The people determined that they preferred the Progressive Liberal Party.  My party and I accept that result.  We are proud of our record the past four-plus years.

During our term we faced the most difficult times in Bahamian history.  In September 2019, Abaco, the Abaco Cays and Grand Bahama were struck by the strongest storm to hit The Bahamas.  Hurricane Dorian was one of the strongest storms recorded on our planet.  It caused generational destruction to our northern islands.  Six months later, we were in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Throughout each crisis my Government worked hard to assist the Bahamian people.  On the northern islands we have had to rebuild roads, water systems, schools, docks, bridges and other critical infrastructure.

In the pandemic, we provided tens of millions of dollars per month in food and unemployment benefits to citizens, along with tax credits to businesses.  We fought hard to secure more than half a million doses of three of the best vaccines in the world.

The FNM has a proud legacy.  We have governed The Bahamas over four terms.  Our philosophy is to use the resources of government to provide opportunity to those who have historically been without.  That is why we invested in free preschool, providing early education to thousands of children. That is why we invested in free tertiary education at the University of The Bahamas and BTVI.

That is why we created the Over-the-Hill initiative to benefit people in grassroots communities with tax concessions and development assistance.  That is why we invested record amounts in Family Island infrastructure.  That is why we created the Small Business Development Centre, extending millions of dollars to help Bahamians realize their dreams.

Our belief in the Bahamian people was also evidenced in the manifesto we ran on in this election.  We pledged a Universal School Meals Program, expanded access to afterschool programs, $250 million to Bahamian small businesses over five years, expanded access to Crown Land, support for the arts and agriculture and fisheries, along with many more policies for the people.

We did not win this time.   But I say to the next generation of FNMs that you should stay firm to this party’s founding ideals.  Always put the people first, and be honest in government.

The people have asked us to be the opposition.  We will ensure the people’s resources are spent properly. We will ensure there is accountability.  We will oppose when necessary. We will agree when the Government’s plans are in the best interests of the people.

I thank my wife Patricia and my family for supporting me during this term, and throughout my life.  I also thank the officers, members and supporters of the Free National Movement for their assistance and encouragement during my time as leader.

And to the Bahamian people, I say a warm and heartfelt thank you for my time being your Prime Minister.  You are a strong, hardworking and resilient people.  Hurricane Dorian did not break you. The pandemic has not broken you.

You trust in the God who has brought us this far.  Trust that He will bring us further to brighter times.  Again, thank you. And may God bless the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

 

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Bahamas News

BAHAMAS: PM Philip Davis Swearing In Speech

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REMARKS BY

THE HON. PHILIP DAVIS,  M.P., QC,

PRIME MINISTER

ON THE OCCASION OF

HIS CEREMONIAL SWEARING-IN AS

PRIME MINISTER OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF THE BAHAMAS

SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 19TH, 2021

BAHA MAR BALLROOM

 

 

Your Excellency, the Governor-General; First

Lady, Ann Marie Davis, Deputy Prime Minister

Elect, I. Chester Cooper and Mrs. Cooper, Honourable and Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.

 

I wish to thank the Bahamian people who turned out and voted resoundingly for change.

As I said on Thursday night, you voted with brave hearts, and you voted with hearts full of hope for our country.

It was unfortunate that many Bahamians who wished to participate in this election were not able to do so. It was the first time in modern Bahamian history that so many voters were disenfranchised – and I hope it is the last. The right to vote is the essential right in a democracy.

Our new administration comes into office at a time when the Bahamian people are hurting as never before.

In recent months, as I travelled the length and breadth of our beautiful country, many people shared with me their stories of hardship and need and despair.

Against that backdrop, we face the many crises borne out of the Covid-19 pandemic: tragic numbers of our people are becoming ill and dying; our hospitals in a state of collapse; our doctors and nurses and other frontline workers pleading for support to shore up our healthcare system.

The economy is also in decline, as we face an historically high deficit and debt. The news of the downgrade yesterday underscores the severity of the fiscal crisis and the urgency of moving quickly to address it.

The challenges in education also deeply concern me. Thousands of young Bahamians have missed out on their education during the past few years, first because of the displacement caused by Hurricane Dorian, then because of the way the Covid-19 crisis has been managed.  These are indeed big challenges.

Some have questioned why we want to serve when the problems are so difficult.  But my team and I offered ourselves for public service precisely because these problems are so difficult – and precisely because we believe that we have the right vision, the right policies, and the right team to take this country forward.  We will not fail if we keep the best interests of the Bahamian people as our guiding north star.

As a young boy growing up in Cat Island, I faced many hardships and obstacles.  I know what it is to be poor.

As a young man trying to find his first job, I faced doors that seemed always slammed shut.  I know what it is to feel disappointment.  As a lawyer trying to build a practice, I missed out on many opportunities because I didnt have the right connections.

I know what its like to be on the outside looking in.  In my family life, I know the ups and downs of raising children and sending them out into the world.  I am determined to take the wisdom gained from these experiences and use it to help others.  It is possible to overcome.  It is possible to work hard and succeed.  It is possible to forgive.  And it is possible to bring about the changes you wish to see.

These are the values that will inform my decisions in office.  In just under two years time, we will celebrate fifty years of The Bahamas being a fully independent, sovereign nation.  We must begin to deliver more purposefully the promise of Independence.   Independence is more than freedom from rule by others.  It is the defining purpose of our country, which says that every one of us is entitled to reach our fullest potential.

And so each day we will ask ourselves: What can we do to ensure that the aspirations and hopes of the Bahamian people are translated into opportunities and paths to success?  Deep in my heart I know that with God, all things are possible”.

If we work together, towards a common purpose, in the common interest and for the common good, great things are indeed possible for our country and our people.  But no government can do great things on its own.  I am sure that my government can only succeed if we partner with the Bahamian people.

We are going to listen.

We are going to consult widely.

And we are going to bring people together.

That is the best way to make progress as a nation.  No leader and no government should be isolated from the people.

I also commit to lifting the veil of secrecy on that which has gone before us, so that all of the arrangements under which we have to live are transparent, and those who authored them are accountable.  We will govern in the interests of all Bahamians, not just the privileged few.  We will act in ways that rebuild trust between the government and the Bahamian people.  We will uphold the constitution and the rule of law, and ensure that everyone is treated fairly, so that its not one rule for one set of people, and another for another set of people.

There is much work to be done; but I know that by working together, we can succeed and build the kind of prosperous, independent Bahamas that our founding fathers dreamed for us.  It will not happen overnight, but with steady progress, we will get there.

I pray God’s blessings and guidance upon us all, and in the words of St. Francis, “make us instruments of your peace; where there is discord, let me bring union; where there is doubt, let me bring faith; where there is despair, let me bring hope; where there is sadness, let me bring joy.”

I thank God for having blessed us with this beautiful country, and the bountiful birthright which we have inherited.

I thank the many people over the years who have supported me to this moment, where I am able to step into servant leadership for the benefit of the Bahamian people.

I thank my family, especially my wife Ann, and my children, my siblings, Alvin, Don, Craig and Trevor, my one and only sister, Diane, who every day continue to give me so much love and support.

And I thank the Bahamian people who have placed their faith and confidence in me and my team.

 

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