(CORRECTED VERSION) – His Excellency the Governor, Nigel Dakin, chaired the 5th meeting of Cabinet on Wednesday 24 March 2021 at the Office of the Premier on Grand Turk.
All members were present.
At this meeting Cabinet:
· Was given an update by the Ministry of Health on:
a) The measures being taken to address and mitigate against the threat of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) to the country, including the need to test for multiple variants, and
b) The instillation of Oxygen Generators at the Cheshire Hall Medical Centre and the Cockburn Town Medical Centre.
· Approved amendments to the Public and Environmental Health (Testing of COVID-19) Regulations to include:
a) The use of Lateral Flow Devices for local surveillance of high risk TCIG departments;
b) Robust reporting requirements; and
c) Confirmatory testing and testing requirements.
· Approved the rollout of an expanded Vaccination Campaign, including among other measures, the use of more marketing mediums, drive through vaccine sites, and community outreach/events.
· Approved a policy for a programme of mandatory Covid-19 testing of unvaccinated staff in the public sector for key high risk departments.
· Approved an amendment to Public and Environmental Health (Arriving Passengers) Regulations to allow for upon arrival PCR testing at the airport for TCI residents who have been fully vaccinated (2 doses) in the TCI; doing away with the requirement for such persons to obtain a negative PCR test within five days prior to their arrival in the Islands with effect from 1 May 2021.
· Approved an amendment to the Public and Environmental Health (Pandemic) Regulations to reduce the prescribed quarantine period from 14 days to 7 days for fully vaccinated persons (2 doses) who come into contact with someone with the COVID-19 disease.
· Approved an MOU with the Turks and Caicos Islands Medical Association (TCIMA) to assist the Ministry of Health with COVID-19 local surveillance through a programme of community testing using Lateral Flow Devices.
· Approved the overturning of a decision by the Collector of Stamp Duty by granting a waiver to a named individual on appeal in the context of a closed stimulus programme.
· Approved an update to the Provisional Warrant approved by the House of Assembly in December 2020 for a withdrawal from the Consolidated Fund in respect of the Recurrent Expenditure of the Islands for part of the fiscal year 2021/22. The revised Provisional Warrant will be re-submitted to the House of Assembly.
· Approved the Invest Turks and Caicos Agency (Amendment) Bill 2021 to improve good governance within the Invest Turks and Caicos Agency Ordinance regarding legal, financial, regulatory, and compliance matters. The Bill will be submitted to the House of Assembly for debate.
· Approved an amendment to the supporting documents to be submitted by applicants over the age of 75 years to enable them to benefit from income assistance/relief under the Citizen Relief – Covid-19 Stimulus Program.
· Approved the appointment of Joe Conolly as Chairman and Carla P. Blake-Thomas as Deputy Chair of the TCI National Health Insurance Board for a period of two (2) years with effect from 1 April 2021.
· Were updated on ongoing work by Labour and Employment Services and the Department of Immigration, in particular issuance of work permits, prosecution and departure from the TCI of persons found residing in the country illegally.
· Were updated on progress with addressing processes, structures and staffing of the Gaming Control Commission and approved the removal of the members of the Board.
· Approved the waiver of stamp duty for the purchase of Project House by the Financial Services Commission.
· Confirmed the round robin approval of the Supplementary Appropriation (2020/2021) Bill 2021 and noted its recent approval by the House of Assembly.
· Were updated on ongoing works by the Ministries of Education, Infrastructure, Tourism and Health. Members were also updated on end of year (financial) work by the Civil Service and staffing across various departments.
Bahamas Development Bank Launches 50th Anniversary Celebrations
Nassau Bahamas, 3 March 2024- The Bahamas Development Bank (BDB) recently commenced its golden anniversary celebrations with special church services held at Freeport Bible Church and Golden Gates Native Baptist Church, in Grand Bahama and New Providence respectively. Both services marked the beginning of a year filled with commemorations of the bank’s 50 years of financial service and national development.
Bahamas Development Bank Managing Director, Nicholas Higgs, said, “As we launch our 50th anniversary celebrations, we are reminded of our journey fueled by an unwavering commitment to our country. As we look forward to the next 50 years and beyond, we remain dedicated to fostering economic growth, supporting local entrepreneurs, and building a prosperous future for The Bahamas.”
The New Providence service was led by Pastor Alonso Hinsey Jr., who serves not only as the senior pastor of Golden Gates Native Baptist Church but also as an executive at BDB. In his sermon, Pastor Hinsey emphasized the importance of trusting God and being trustworthy as two sides of the same coin.
“Trust is the foundation of any healthy relationship and our relationship with God is no exception. When we trust God, we believe who He says that He is, what He is going to do, and that He will do what He says He will do. We rely on Him to guide us, protect us, and to provide for us. Being trustworthy is just as important. When we are trustworthy, others can rely on us to keep our promises, can rely on us to tell the truth, and act with integrity.”
He referenced the story of God ordering Abraham to sacrifice his promised son Isaac.
“Trust is not easy when facing challenges. However, even in the midst of our doubts and fears, God is faithful and trustworthy. When we are trustworthy, others know they can rely on us and that they will not be let down. When we are trustworthy, we are reflecting the character of God who faithful and true,” Pastor Hinsey added.
Hinsey also stressed that, “Trustworthiness is essential for building strong relationships and creating a just and harmonious society.”
The Bahamas Development Bank has been instrumental in providing financial solutions and expertise to Bahamian businesses and entrepreneurs, driving economic growth and sustainability across the country. The 50th anniversary marks a significant milestone in the bank’s history and will be marked by a variety of events, including community outreach initiatives, competitions, and celebrations that both reflect on the bank’s past accomplishments and outline its way forward.
Pastor Hinsey’s powerful message can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/live/c0FxUErI65o?si=em2vTZ7AfPIZklNk.
“Internet communications are not secure and therefore The Bahamas Development Bank does not accept legal responsibility for the contents of this message. This e-mail and any files transmitted with it (“this Communication”) are intended only for the recipient(s) named above. They may contain information that is privileged, confidential and/or exempt from disclosure under applicable law. If you received this Communication in error, or are not the named recipient(s), you must not use, disclose, copy, print or rely on this e-mail. Although The Bahamas Development Bank operates anti-virus programmes, it does not accept responsibility for any damage whatsoever that is caused by viruses being passed. Any view or opinions presented are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the Bahamas Development Bank.”
CARICOM says they want ‘Ceasefire’ in Gaza
March 3, 2024 – The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and is calling out Israel for ignoring UN calls to put an end to the invasion, following the conclusion of the 46th Heads of Government Intersessional Meeting.
The February 29 statement was published online and maintained that CARICOM was “deeply distressed by the ongoing violence and deteriorating situation in Gaza, which has resulted in the tragic loss of civilian lives, including the deaths of women and children on an unprecedented scale, and widespread displacement and suffering.”
Despite its calls for a cease fire, the regional bloc reiterated its strong condemnation of the attacks by Hamas ‘as well as of the Israeli actions that violate international humanitarian law and the human rights of the Palestinian people.’
CARICOM is describing Israel’s attacks on Gaza as ‘incessant’ and ‘catastrophic’ in impact on that region.
“CARICOM urges an immediate and unconditional ceasefire in Gaza and safe and unimpeded access for the delivery of adequate and sustained humanitarian assistance. We also strongly advocate for the rule of law to prevail and for the return to their families of all hostages and persons held in administrative detention without charge.
Israel’s continued and expanding occupation of territory in the occupied West Bank poses a serious and continuing threat to a peaceful, secure and stable world.”
CARICOM is also reaffirming its commitment to a two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians, and has summoned stronger interference and enforcement by the United Nations (UN).
“The Community, therefore, calls on the United Nations General Assembly to invoke its powers in the UN General Assembly Resolution 377A “Uniting for Peace” to hold an emergency session and to issue appropriate recommendations to UN Member States to collectively impose measures designed to motivate Israel to adhere to its obligations under the said UN Resolution and under the ICJ Order.”
Israeli Jews and Palestine are steeped in a bloody conflict which began following an October 7, 2024 attack on Jewish people by Hamas militants which reportedly resulted in hundreds being killed, it was reported that 260 bodies were recovered and 130 Israelis were taken hostage. The response by Israel has been incessant and merciless, the latest criticism coming on February 29, when Israel was accused of opening fire on Palestinians crowding a UN orchestrated, relief convoy where 112 people were killed.
Abaco Hurricane Shelter ‘progressing’ despite inherited delays
Bahamas Information Services
March 3, 2024
Central Pines, ABACO, The Bahamas – The new, State-of-the-Art Hurricane Shelter and Community Centre currently under construction in Central Pines, Abaco, is scheduled to be fully completed by November 2024, despite some inherited delays.
Contractors add that the dual Shelter/Community Centre, which is anticipated to be a prototype for the future design and construction of shelters in The Bahamas, will have an “occupied date” of early summer, meaning that the facility should be available to host those persons requiring assistance at that time, if the need arises. This is good news as the 2024 Atlantic Hurricane Season begins June 1 and runs through November 30. Abaconians will continue to have access to a host of other approved shelters throughout the island, and not just rely on the prototype alone, however.
Disaster Risk Management officials further say the dual Hurricane Shelter and Community Centre will be “one of a kind” in the region in terms of its construction and design. The building is being constructed under “a new building code,” that calls for its structure – doors, window, roof — to withstand hurricane force winds of up to 250 miles per hour (Category 5 Hurricane and higher).
Its mechanical systems are designed to accommodate diverse loads, including an industrial kitchen, communication systems, air-conditioning system, male and female bathrooms and showers, office spaces for emergency personnel, in addition to storage areas.
Standby generators to ensure continuity with communications, water, sewerage, air-conditioning, refrigeration, safety and security, will be installed in order to mitigate the impacts of disruptions in power.
A ramp that was not included in the original design, was added to allow persons with disabilities and the elderly — considered two of the more vulnerable populations particularly during natural disasters such as tropical storms and/or hurricanes — easy frontal access to the facility under the protection of a canopy.
“Construction is going very well, particularly now that we are back on schedule,” said Mr. Chris Symonette, Project Manager. “We had lost almost a year due to some faults that we found in the ground, and in the foundation, we met in place when we assumed responsibility for the project. These corrective measures took us about 9 months to resolve.
“The building is one of a kind in the region. As a matter of fact, this will be the first 250 miles-per-hour hurricane shelter design in The Bahamas. We had to exceed the ratings while ensuring that we have redundancy upon redundancy,” Mr. Symonette added.
Raeh Williams, a Director, with Wilkem Solutions, a Bahamian-owned entity that specializes in development, civil works and waste management, among other services, said the construction team has been “pushing every day” to ensure that they meet the projected dates. The company took over construction operations a little over one year ago.
“We met a lot of challenges that were a real test of our skill and tenacity because there were caves, holes and a lot of other issues that basically caused us to have to perform a lot of corrective work to get us where we are today. The scheduled completion date is November 2024, but we are anticipating having an occupied completion by June/July which is right at the beginning of the Hurricane Season so that if there is some need to use the shelter, it will be available. That is our push and we are pushing every day to make sure that we stick to that.”
Header: Minister Lundy and delegation reviewing building plans for the multi-purpose Abaco Hurricane Shelter and Community Centre. (BIS Photo)
1st insert: Abaco Hurricane Shelter and Community Centre Project Manager Chris Symonette (right) updates Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for Disaster Risk Management, the Hon. Leon Lundy (second right) during State-Minister Lundy’s Official Visit. (BIS Photo)
2nd insert: Minister Lundy (second right) and team conduct a walk-through of the multi-purpose Abaco Hurricane Shelter and Community Centre under construction in Central Pines. Also pictured (from left) are: Mr. Kirk Cornish, Member of Parliament, North Abaco, and Mr. John H. Pinder, Member of Parliament for South and Central Abaco and Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, Investments and Aviation. Project Manager, Mr. Chris Symonette is at far right. (BIS Photo)
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