#TuksandCaicos, May 5, 2021 – Monday, May 3, 2021, marked 50 working days of the new TCI PNP administration. Even though the new government took over in the middle of the pandemic when the future economic potential of the islands seemed murkier, the country is doing far much better than anticipated from a financial standpoint.
Speaking about the progress made by the new government, the Premier explained the country’s financial state while emphasizing how critical planning has been vital in fulfilling the Citizen’s Contract; the Progressive National Party’s 2021 campaign manifesto.
“In these early days, planning has been critical. Hence, upon establishing the financial position from an insider’s point of view, our effort has been centered on planning for fiscal sustainability and fiscal soundness in these unprecedented times,” said the Premier, and Minister of Finance, Hon. Washington Misick.
“We have spent the last two months rejiggering the budget to mitigate unforeseeable risks and put the country on a trajectory of growth as global efforts take us to the other side of this pandemic,” he added while explaining the new government’s strategies in overcoming the consequences of the pandemic.
In his speech, the Premier focused on new spending; these will be included in the new Budget set to be read in June 2021.
“At this juncture, we are on target to deliver the Budget by the end of June, including an additional $48 million in brand new spending,” said Hon. Missick. Even though the far-reaching effects of the pandemic led to a 26 per cent shrink in revenue collection, the Premier admitted the fiscal performance was better than projected.
Announced was $2 million dollars for a law enforcement training academy; $6 million dollars has been carved out for land purchases, in order said the Premier to buy back beach front land for the development of recreational sites for the people of the country.
Also in that ‘new spend’ list was $3 million for software toward the digital transformation of Government; $2 million to reinstate public sector pensions and there is to be a half a million dollar investment for a health information system.
Significantly and uniquely, $15 million is allocated to poverty alleviation projects including community enhancements and coming soon is urban renewal programs across the country.
A hotline will be set up; the Premier said he is creating a way for residents to speak directly to government instead of to social media.
“The overall outturn of the Turks and Caicos Islands Government fiscal performance has been better than expected when the budget was last revised. This is due to improvement in revenue collection in the final quarter of the year as well as reduction in expenditure for the year.
“Turks and Caicos Islands Government was able to end the fiscal year 2020/2021 with a lower-than-expected operating deficit. The total deficit for the financial year was $93 million after debt repayment. This deficit was funded from the cash reserves,” said Hon. Misick, before shifting focus to the achievements made during their 50 days of governance.
Turks and Caicos, as a result of the better performance of the economy may no longer have to increase borrowing from the Republic Bank.
The last quarter’s actuals outperformed estimates, negating an early trigger to draw down on funds from the $80M facility negotiated with Republic Bank. Because of that, the requirement to negotiate the restructuring of that facility for a larger facility is no longer necessary.
The Premier conservatively forecasts, the economy will expand by 2.5 per cent in the current fiscal period.
GBPA invests $1.1 million in major road infrastructure improvements for city of Freeport
#TheBahamas, May 20, 2022 – The Grand Bahama Port Authority, Limited (GBPA) will commence its $1.1 million road resurfacing project in Freeport, Grand Bahama on Sunday, May 22, 2022 beginning with the Fishing Hole Road, and West Atlantic and Adventures Way roundabout.
“Our City Maintenance and Management section is excited to begin this important initiative to resurface roadways within Freeport,” said Troy McIntosh, GBPA Deputy Director of Building and Development Services. “Our city has been through many challenging storm events which did catastrophic damage to infrastructure around the island, including our roads.
“But our community is resilient, and we are seeing a positive shift in the economic tide,” continued McIntosh. “Excitement for future opportunities and anticipation of new investments is palpable through the city, so we knew this was the ideal time to start this aspect of Freeport’s much-needed makeover to which GBPA is fully committed.”
Roadworks are scheduled for main thoroughfares and a number of residential roads. These areas include the Fishing Hole Road, West Atlantic and Adventures Way roundabout, West Atlantic Drive at Rayvin Mall roundabout, Beach Way Drive, Bahama Reef Boulevard, Pioneers Way, Waterfall Drive, Tarrytown Street and Grand Bahama Highway. “We selected these locations using our Road Rating System, which allows inspectors to assess the condition and rideability of our roads on an annual basis,” added Mr. McIntosh.
The GBPA roadworks project went out to bid in December 2020. In March 2022, the bid was awarded to Bahamas Hot Mix (BHM), who specializes in heavy civil engineering projects including major highways.
“We ask motorists to drive with due care and attention while roadwork is underway,” Mr. McIntosh advised. Flagmen and temporary traffic lights will be in position to direct traffic. Please obey the speed limit and posted signs to help ensure the safety of all motorists and crews as they conduct work. Delays are expected as there will be partial lane closures in some areas.”
The initial phase of road resurfacing is scheduled to be completed at the end of June 2022. For the latest updates and information on redirected travel routes, residents can follow any of the Grand Bahama Port Authority’s social media sites or visit its website at www.gbpa.com.
RTCIPF Marine Branch and USCG Working Together in Keeping Our Borders Secure
#TurksandCaicos, May 20, 2022 – During the afternoon of Wednesday 19th May 2022, a call was made to the RTCIPF Marine Operations Centre via VHF radio that a suspicious vessel was sighted around 35 miles south east of Providenciales. The operator immediately updated colleagues within the Royal Turks and Caicos Marine Branch who made their way to the location and with the support of a US Coast Guard (USCG) plane, safely intercepted an overloaded vessel carrying irregular migrants.
Following delicate coordination and the stabilization of the boat which was unsafe, severely overcrowded and none of the occupants was wearing life vests, the RTCIPF marine unit was joined by a second RTCIPF Marine crew and a third vessel crewed with TCI Regiment and Tactical Unit officers to support the delicate operation.
The vessel was carefully offloaded at sea to ensure the safety of the occupants after which, the boat was towed to South Dock where it arrived around 10:30pm with a total of 110 persons (84 males and 24 females and 2 juveniles) who were then taken into custody by the Immigration Department.
Superintendent Martyn Ball said, “Once again working with partners we have safely intercepted another vessel that was overcrowded, unsafe, risking the lives of those on board. This demonstrates the professionalism and dedication of the RTCIPF Marine Unit, working together with colleagues in the Marine Operations Centre, USCG, TCI Regiment, TCI Immigration and the RTCIPF Tactical Unit to save lives and keep our borders here in the Turks and Caicos safe. In the last couple of months around 768 individuals on 8 dangerous vessels have been intercepted which is testament to the professionalism of our teams here in the TCI and I am very grateful to the passing vessel who raised the alarm. I would appeal to anyone if you have any information relating to such activity that you call Crimes Stoppers free and anonymously on 1-800-8477 (TIPS) not only will you be saving lives but also supporting our national security here in the Turks and Caicos Islands.”
Ten Selected for the TCREA Real Estate Mentorship Program
#TurksandCaicos, May 20, 2022 – Since the official announcement of the Turks & Caicos Real Estate Association’s High School Mentorship Program, ten mentees have been selected for the inaugural group and will begin their journey on the road to embracing the fundamentals of the real estate field this month.
TCREA Ambassador and Director of the mentorship program, Mr. Trevor Musgrove, shared how pleased the committee was to have received thirty applications for the program, “We extended the opportunity to high schoolers and young college students aged 13-17. Initially, the invitation for applications was shared only with Providenciales students because of the logistical challenge to accommodate in-person sessions with sister island students, as all our committee members are based in Providenciales.
Luckily, once the Ministry of Education came on board and endorsed the program, Honourable Rachel Taylor immediately encouraged us to extend the mentorship opportunity to all islands, pledging her Ministry’s commitment to handling the necessary authorizations and cost to ensure successful applicants outside of Provo would be able travel here as needed,” said Musgrove.
The successful applicants and their respective schools are as follows:
· Clement Howell High – Dashawn Brooks, Alyssa Callum
· Raymond Gardiner High – Olique Stubbs, Lewis Walkin, Jr.
· Precious Treasures – Aniyah Bovie
· Maranatha Academy – Shamya Missick
· British West Indies Collegiate – Pavla Lalakova, Andino Parker
· Louise Garland Thomas High – Abnise Noel, Antoine Gedeon
Musgrove said they were pleased to have had applicants from North Caicos and were hopeful to have students from Grand Turk and South Caicos among the group, however no applications were received from those islands.
On Tuesday, May 10th the final group came together for a virtual meet-up and briefing, where they were formally introduced to the program’s mentors and were given an overview of what to expect in the coming months.
The teens will receive a monthly educational module over the next six months and will be provided 1-2 weeks to internalize the information. They will then enjoy a monthly in-person session with their mentors where they will put their real estate acumen to the test in interactive sessions, field trips, and more.
Program mentor Manfred Smith of Sotheby’s Turks & Caicos shared his elation for the program’s momentum thus far, “We are excited about providing this opportunity to introduce high school students to the real estate industry. From the initial feedback, the students are also very keen to learn, which makes it rewarding for all as we contribute to the development of tomorrow’s professionals.”
Smith says the program also demonstrates TCREA’s continued commitment as good corporate citizens in the rapidly growing country. The committee hopes that the mentees would grasp all that they can as they continue their educational pursuits.
The program’s Facebook page, @tcreamentors, is live and will document the group’s journey as they move through the program’s phases. Along with Musgrove and Smith, the community can get to know more about the other committee members: Blair MacPherson of REMAX; Nina Siegenthaler of Sotheby’s; Vernica Delancy and Dedra Gray of Keller Williams; and Sean O’neill, of The Agency through the social media page as well.
At the end of the program, the students will sit a mock real estate license exam and will enjoy a retreat for a fun and memorable close-out.
It is TCREA’s hope that this initiative will garner an interest and appreciation for the industry among high-schoolers and will act as springboard to the development of the next generation of local real estate professionals in these islands.
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