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103 Days since the TCI General Elections; A Review of the Results

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#TurksandCaicos, June 2, 2021 – Only time will tell if the newly elected, Washington Misick-led Progressive National Party government will manage to keep voters as enamoured throughout their term as they were on voting day.  When the dust had settled, the tally revealed that the PNP captured 14 of the 15 electoral districts in a record-setting win for the yellow party on General Election day, February 19, 2021.

The victory is aptly described as an avalanche of a win for the PNP; a second time for Washington Misick as democratically elected leader of the Turks and Caicos Islands and a resounding rejection of the People’s Democratic Movement, led by first woman premier, Sharlene Robinson.

In the Coronavirus pandemic, voter turn-out figures were expected to be lower than in previous years due to the threat of the contagion. In the Turks and Caicos, health protocols established by the Elections Office worked well; no outbreak was reported at any polling station.

Prior to the pandemic, voter apathy was anticipated to be high.  The Elector’s List, which could have swelled to around 10,000 voters grew by only 849 people between the General Elections of 2016 and 2021. 

In the 2016 election, there were 7,732 voters registered. In 2021, there were 8,581 people registered to cast votes.

As Opposition Leader, Charles Washington Misick dismissed the narrative of voter disinterest and it seems he was onto something.  The 2021 slate of candidates for the PNP proved to be attractive; drawing 55 per cent of the popular vote in the constituencies and taking all five of the All Island seats in the at-large category.

What the Polls Reveal

Turks and Caicos Elections Office at this stage does not categorise voters who are voting.  While demographically there is a break down in voters by sex, age and residential district; there is no dissection or distinction of voters at polling time. 

What we do know, in reviewing the official results published on February 21, 2021 is 2,121 voters were a no-show.  One quarter of the voters stayed home; leaving the job of deciding the political future of the Turks and Caicos to 6,460 people or 22 per cent of the overall population of the islands.

We also know that voter turn-out was lowest in Blue Hills, with 65 per cent participation; a staggering 349 voters did not turn out.

Here, Randy Howell of the PNP ended a two-term run for Goldray Ewing; and did something which was rare for his party.  He won a PDM stronghold; only the second time in election history – according to CaribbeanElections.com – this had been accomplished by a PNP Candidate.

The Cheshire Hall & Richmond Hill district, which is the most populous constituency, also recorded one of the lowest voter turn-outs at 69 per cent and 407 voters staying home.  Douglas Parnell, former leader of the PDM was topped by Sammy Been; a former MP and Cabinet Minister who had previously won in Grand Turk.

All, but two other electoral districts were in the 70 percentile range when participation was rated.  North and Middle Caicos (ED-4) had the highest voter turn-out at 86 per cent.  South Caicos (ED-3) followed closely with a voter turn-out of 85 per cent. 

Both seats were captured by the Progressive National Party candidates; Arlington Musgrove in Electoral District 4 and John Malcolm in Electoral District 3, respectively. 

The highest participation by voters on the islands of Grand Turk and Providenciales were also to the PNP. 

Grand Turk North, (ED-1) supported Otis Morris on the PNP ticket.  Morris ran in a constituency which had voted for the PNP in the preceding run-off but for George Lightbourne.  Lightbourne departed the PNP months earlier; it was not an amicable parting and one which escalated to litigation over how the new leadership of the PNP was selected; not elected. 

George Lightbourne entered the political fray of the 2021 General Elections as an independent candidate in the All-Island category where he secured the third highest number of votes; 162 behind Courtney Missick, who had 280 votes and Jacqueline Lightbourne who performed best among independents and had 300 votes.  

PNP Sweeps in Provo

Three-time Member of Parliament and a former Deputy Premier; Akierra Missick continued to make a strong impression on her district:  Leeward & Long Bay or ED-5. 

Electoral District 5 had the best turn-out in Providenciales; just under 80 per cent participation with 182 voters missing out. Of the 709 votes cast, Misick secured 460 nods of approval for a third term in the House of Assembly.

In the closest race, which also became the most grueling one for those counting and re-counting the ballots; Electoral District 10 was the biggest upset.

Exit poll interviews exposed that newbie, Kyle Knowles, invigorated younger voters. He had 697 people to sway in the months leading to the General Election.  Not an easy task, as these were electors known for being staunchly and consistently in support of the PDM and its incumbent, Delroy Williams. 

With three voters over his political rival, at least two of whom had turned up in the final hours of the polling day, which closed to Covid-19 free electors at 6 p.m., Knowles pulled off the victory.  It was a complete sweep for the Progressive National Party in Providenciales. 

Although 159 voters did not participate in Wheeland or ED-10, voter turn-out was at 78 per cent, considerably above average.

It concluded with Knowles getting 273 votes to Williams’ 270.

Never before in the history of the islands had a party won so firmly against its contender. 

PNP Party Leader and now Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands, C. Washington Misick described the results as a strong show of support for his party, the deep level of disappointment in the now ejected party and a commanding message from the people of the TCI, to get to work.

May 30, 2021 marked 100 days since the February 19 General Elections in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

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Bahamas News

PM Davis speaks of ‘boundless possibilities’ and collaboration, at the Afreximbank 31st Annual Meetings

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NASSAU, The Bahamas – While addressing the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) 31st Annual Meetings (AAM2024), on June 13, 2024, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis noted that he was reminded of the “boundless possibilities that define the Caribbean and, indeed, The Bahamas.”

“Our region is not just a collection of islands but a vibrant tapestry of culture, innovation, and opportunity,” Prime Minister Davis said, at the event held at the Baha Mar Convention Centre.  “The Bahamas, with its strategic location and dynamic economy, serves as a symbol of possibility and a gateway to broader economic horizons.”

He added:  “Growing up on Cat Island, one of our country’s beautiful family of islands, I was always filled with big dreams for my country. I may not have envisioned the specific paths our economy would take, but I always believed in the limitless potential of our nation.  Our history is one of invention, disruption, resilience, and innovation. We have pioneered in various fields, from tourism to financial services, transforming challenges into opportunities and showcasing our ability to innovate and lead.”

Prime Minister Davis pointed out that, just as The Bahamas had embraced its unique position to become a global leader in tourism and financial services, so too can they, as a collective of African and Caribbean nations, harness “our potential to shape our own economic destiny.”

“Today, our presence here underscores the readiness of The Bahamas, and indeed the Caribbean, to be a home for global leaders in various sectors,” he noted.  “The Bahamas has always been more than just a tropical paradise. It is a place of possibility, where dreams are not just dreamt but realized. This ethos is reflected in our history and in the transformative innovations we continue to champion.”

“In a similar vein, Africa is a land of immense potential, brimming with opportunities for growth and development,” Prime Minister Davis noted.  “Our collective mission is to harness this potential, creating pathways to prosperity that benefit not just our regions but the global community.”

Prime Minister Davis went further to outline “a blueprint for collaboration that we all can embrace.”

“This blueprint encompasses key initiatives designed to unite our banking systems, enhance financial inclusivity, and catalyze economic growth across Africa and the Caribbean,” he said.  “This strategic plan is anchored in our shared desire for prosperity and our commitment to overcoming the challenges of distance and disparate regulatory environments.”

Prime Minister Davis added:  “Establishing a Joint Financial Task Force can be the cornerstone of our blueprint. This collaborative body will harness the expertise of banking and finance leaders, policymakers, and stakeholders from both regions. Tasked with identifying and dismantling barriers to banking integration, this task force symbolizes our collective will to forge a unified path forward.”

Prime Minister Davis suggested that they could also harmonize their regulatory frameworks to address “critical hurdles” in their journey.

“By aligning our anti-money laundering (AML) standards, counter-financing of terrorism (CFT) policies, and digital currency regulations, we create a seamless environment conducive to cross-regional banking operations,” he stated.  “With its robust regulatory landscape, exemplified by the DARE Act, The Bahamas is a pioneer in this endeavor, guiding our efforts towards regulatory excellence and stability.”

He added:  “Additionally, promoting financial inclusion and digital banking leverages the power of technology to erase boundaries and open doors. Inspired by The Bahamas’ pioneering launch of the Sand Dollar, the world’s first central bank digital currency, this facet of the blueprint envisions a future where digital banking platforms extend financial services to every corner of our regions, ensuring that none of our citizens is left behind.”

Prime Minister Davis said that facilitating trade and investment through streamlined banking procedures and dedicated financial instruments could bolster economic exchanges between Africa and the Caribbean. By focusing on sectors of mutual interest like tourism, agriculture, renewable energy, and technology, he added, they could unlock new avenues for growth and collaboration.

“Key to this blueprint is developing human capital, underscoring the belief that our greatest asset is our people,” Prime Minister Davis said.  “Joint educational initiatives and training programs will equip banking professionals with cutting-edge skills in fintech, cybersecurity, and regulatory compliance, ensuring our financial sector is robust, secure, and innovative.”

“Creating a bilateral payment system or exploring the development of a shared digital currency represents a bold step towards financial sovereignty and integration,” he added.  “Such an initiative will facilitate smoother trade and investment, reduce our reliance on external currencies, and strengthen our economic bonds.

“Together, Africa and the Caribbean can embark on this transformative journey, driven by unity, innovation, and mutual respect. Let this blueprint be our guide as we strive to unlock the full potential of our regions, forging a path towards prosperity that will be remembered for generations yet to come.”

Prime Minister Davis noted that the Afreximbank annual meeting represented “a pivotal moment for all of us, especially for Small Island Developing States (SIDS).”

He said: “We face a global financial system that often locks us out, creating inequities perpetuated by the Global North. These powerful nations frequently establish one set of rules for themselves and another for developing states, undermining our progress and prosperity.  It is imperative that we call out this behavior and demand an inclusive, fair model for the global financial system.”

Prime Minister Davis continued:  “Our journey together – Africa and the Caribbean – supported by the visions we share and the actions we are committed to, heralds the dawn of a new era.  An era where financial inclusivity fostered by innovations like the Sand Dollar and robust regulatory frameworks become the standard across our waters.  An era where our joint task forces and harmonized policies pave the way for a future where trade, investment, and mutual growth flow as freely as the waters that connect us.”

He said that, as they all looked to the horizon, they should see not a barrier but a vast, uncharted ocean of potential.

“Let us decide, here and now, that the waters which separate our lands will not impede our progress but will act as the very medium through which we unite our dreams and ambitions,” Prime Minister Davis said.

He added:  “Friends, I ask the question again – will we allow the separation of water to get in our way? Or will we embark together on this bold journey, proving that our spirits are stronger than the oceans, our resolve deeper than the deepest sea, and our potential boundless as the sky above?  The choice is ours. Let us choose to bridge the waters, to unite our dreams, and to craft a future where Africa and the Caribbean thrive together, in prosperity and partnership. This is our moment. Let us seize it with both hands, for the sake of our present and for the countless generations to come.”

“Lastly, I hope that this annual meeting in the Bahamas is successful – and I have no doubt that it will be – and that you have time to kick off your shoes, get your feet wet in our sands, get some sand in your toes, enjoy the warmth of our people, and discover why it is better in The Bahamas,” Prime Minister Davis said.

“The moment is now.  Let us seize the moment.”

PHOTO CAPTION

Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis addresses the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) 31st Annual Meetings (AAM2024), on June 13, 2024, held at Baha Mar Convention Centre.

 

(BIS Photos/Eric Rose)

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Crime

Assistance Needed in Identifying Murder Victim

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***MEDIA RELEASE***

 

June 16th, 2024.

The Serious Crimes Unit of the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police yesterday (June 15th)  evening responded to a report of a shooting death.

Upon arrival at a location along Five Cays and South Dock Road, Providenciales, officers observed the body of a male with what appeared to be gunshot wounds.

The victim is approximately 5 feet 11 inches tall. He was found wearing red shorts, blue underpants, and a pair of black and white slippers and was shirtless. The individual had a dreadlocks hairstyle.

There were tattoos on both his arms and a cross under both eyes.

The estimated age of the victim is between 25 to 40 years old.

We are seeking the public’s assistance in identifying this individual.

Anyone with information that may help in this investigation is urged to contact the closest police station, 911, the Serious Crime Unit at 231-1842, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-8477 to provide any information on this murder anonymously.

Additionally, individuals are encouraged to download the CrimeStoppers P3 app to share information anonymously.

 

Murder scene photo by Wilkie Arthur, Eagle Legal News Media

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The Truth about Heaving Down Rock, the National Trust Vs Lew1 Shipping  

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By Hon. Ralph Higgs

 

As humans, it is very easy to forget what the past looked like when we struggle with today’s challenges. Lately, I’ve been reminiscing about the time that I served as the Member of Parliament for North and Middle Caicos from 2016 to 2021. Alongside my dedicated PDM colleagues, we poured our hearts into making life better for the constituents of ED4 and the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands. Among the many projects we championed, the transformation of Heaving Down Rock in Leeward, Providenciales, stands out vividly in my memory.

Heaving Down Rock has always been more than just a loading point for mariners; it is a symbol of our rich heritage and the spirit of our people. However, before the improvements, the PNP government was comfortable with Heaving Down Rock being nothing but a quarry loading dock, devoid of basic facilities. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the PNP government gave this public property to a party supporter prioritizing personal connections over the public good. Thankfully, that supporter donated it to the National trust after the public got wind of it.

Today, as a result of the work under my Ministry and the PDM Administration, the Heaving Down Rock facility is comfortably used and enjoyed by the commuters of Pine and Parrot Cay, aquatic operators, and cargo and ferry services. The facility is even casually used by individuals and groups for relaxation or fishing.

As we navigate the present and look toward the future, it is crucial to remember these lessons. Our progress from 2016 to 2021 shows what can be achieved with dedication and a genuine commitment to the people’s welfare.

As a proud Turks and Caicos Islander, who has always held the country’s best interest at heart, I can assure you that I will continue to build on our progress.

The impasse that currently exists between the National Trust and Lew1 Shipping is nothing short of a national crisis which has serious and direct implications for the people and businesses on North and Middle Caicos and all the cays in between.

This PNP government should not have allowed it to come to this point. They must intervene forthwith to rectify this situation. It is impractical, if not impossible for Lew1 shipping to operate from South Dock. It will increase the already high freight between Providenciales, Pine and Parrot Cay, North and Middle Caicos by at least three (3) fold. And as most of the journey now would be on the high seas; the ocean, there could be many days when the sea is too rough for Lew1 to travel from South Dock to North Caicos and the islands in between. Thereby making a bad situation even worse.

When I was in office, on many ocassions, the National Trust had proposed increasing the cost to Lew1 Shipping out of Heaving Down Rock. Me and my government resisted as we could not support any higher freight on the backs of the people and businesses of our islands. There were also several ocassions when the National Trust sought to close down Lew1 Shipping operations for non-payment. But again, me and my government intervened. We made sure negotiations continued between Lew1 Shipping and National Trust to prevent any disruption in the  important service that Lew1 Shipping provides to the family islands.

Successsive governments have provided subsidies to local airlines that operate between our islands. They have also provided subsidies for the ferry to run between Salt Cay and Grand Turk. Most recently, the government wrote off almost $2M worth of debt owning to TCIG by these airlines. The time has perhaps comes for the governement to look at the situation that currently exists between Lew1 Shipping and the National Trust. Surely, it could insist that the two parties negotiate a settlement to this matter while it considers a path to settle the debt owing to the National Trust by Lew1 Shipping.

The National Trust is a quasi-government entity and it raises funds through fees levied on users of our national parks and facilities such as Heaving Down Rock etc. Historcially, the National Trust has been poorly subvented and it has been responsible for raising up to 60% of its budget. In fact, to the best of my knowledge, the last meaningful increase which the National Trust received to its subvention came under the former PDM administration. This PNP government has not not seen it fit to increase the National Trust subvention in any direct meaningful way. I am reliably informed that the staff of the National Trust did not even benefit from the increase in salaries that this government implemented a few months ago.

I am certain that the current situation between the National Trust and Lew1 Shipping didn’t happen in a vacuum, neither did it happen overnight. The fact that this government could allow the lifeline of North and Middle Caicos and the resort islands of Parrot Cay and Pine Cay to be cut demonstrates the lack of appreciation for value that Lew1 shipping brings to these islands and they simply do not care of about the struggles at the people and businesses face on daily basis.  I am sincerely and respectfully urging the government to order the National Trust to allow Lew1 Shipping to resume operations forthwith and to commence the necessary arrangements to write-off this small debt of approximately of $100,000 which represents about 4 years worth of fees that is owed to the National Trust  by Lew1 Shipping and to find an amicable way to address the other concerns raised by the National Trust.

 

 

Contact Details:

Ralph Higgs

Tel: 649.232.3917

Email: ralphhiggs46@gmail.com

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