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TCI: Slightly Bigger Budget: $342.9 Million Nat’l Spending for New Fiscal Year

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#TurksandCaicos, June 6, 2021 – Covid-19 devastated the Turks and Caicos islands because the jurisdiction is so heavily dependent upon travel and tourism as its economic lifeblood; the Premier Washington Misick did not need to state it but the fact was a preamble to his 2021-2022 Budget Address on June 29 which would aim to illustrate how TCI absorbed the hit, learned from the hit and to where it can pivot because of the hit. 

“Mr. Speaker, it has been a tough period as we have dealt with the ravages of COVID. There have been suffering and death. We mourn the loss of each person and send condolences to their loved ones. I ask that we stand and observe a moment of silence not only for those who died from COVID but all the souls we lost in recent times.

May their souls rest in peace and light perpetual shine upon them.

Hon Speaker, this is the first budget in my administration that is just about four months old. My team and I have hit the ground running. In fact, less than two weeks after taking office, we were already delivering for the people. That is what we intend to do throughout this term.”

Several training campuses are earmarked including one for Hospitality and at least four financial institutions are being built up including the long-touted Credit Union. 

“Institutions such as a Development Finance Institution, a Credit Union, a Partial Credit Guarantee Fund are all intended to work in concert to achieve economic prosperity, societal well-being and reduce income inequality,” said the Premier who shared more on the concept.

“$250 thousand dollars will facilitate the creation of a Credit Union to encourage and expand access to affordable banking, insurance, and financial services for all.”

On the new training campus for uniformed officers, he said: “Two million dollars is being spent to acquire property, develop the framework and programs for the training of law enforcement personnel. This is a priority. This National Security Training Academy will provide ongoing training for Police Officers, the Military, Customs, and Immigration Officers. It will facilitate recruitment and training of the best candidates our country has to offer and rebuild a positive image of these various bodies.”

When hurricane Ike compounded by the Global Financial Crisis of 2008 took its toll on the Turks and Caicos, it was a 19.8 per cent blow said the Finance Minister in reflecting on previous tough times … Premier and Finance Minister Hon Washington Misick said the Coronavirus Pandemic resulted in 35.8 per cent losses in government revenue. 

Hotel and Restaurant Tax was down a staggering 73 per cent after TCI was shut off from the world between March and July.  No hotels meant less need for imports, particularly food and drinks and so import duties were down 34 per cent and customs processing fees dipped by 38 per cent. 

The two border taxes account for 60 per cent of governments revenue, said the premier in the address. 

“Mr. Speaker, COVID has been devastating to us – a Tourism reliant country. In FY 20/21, overall Government Revenues declined by $112.9 million or 35.8 -percent compared to Financial Year (FY) 19/20. This decline stemmed from a 73.0- percent fall in hotel & restaurant tax, a 44.6 – percent fall in imports and a 38.1- percent fall in customs processing fees. Import duties and Customs Processing Fees (CPF) are the largest revenue generators and combined account for 60 percent of the TCIG Revenue.”

A projected deficit of $100 million was missed; the actual was 88.7 million which, said Hon Misick, was funded from TCIG cash reserves. 

“Coupled with the loss of revenues Mr. Speaker, a demand was placed on the country’s finances with the compulsory health measures to protect life. Resources had to be redirected and our reserves had to be used to pay for testing, additional bed capacity, respiratory and oxygen generating equipment and treating COVID-19 patients. There was also more than the usual expenditure on cleaning, sanitization, and personal protective supplies.”

The new budget is only two per cent more than last budget year; $342.9 million is the projected spending.   Revenue for the upcoming budget year is pegged, conservatively at $274.5 million, he said. 

“The Estimated expenditure is $342.9m. This is a 2 percent increase over last year and 9 percent over the rollforward Estimates. “

Itemised were:  $304.2 is for recurrent expenditure – the day to day expenses such as wages, goods, and services;  $11.7m for non-recurrent expenditure; and  $27.0m in capital development.

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Airports Authority aims for 24-hour airport and announces Scholarship programme

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Dana Malcolm 

Staff Writer

 

 

#TurksandCaicos, April 19, 2024 – In an attempt to move to 24-hour-a-day operations Turks and Caicos Islands Airports Authority (TCIAA) is steadily recruiting Air Traffic Controllers to work at the Providenciales/Howard Hamilton International Airport, according to Godfrey Smith, TCIAA CEO, reporting to the Appropriations Committee.

Speaking on April 8th Smith said a cabinet paper would be sent soon requesting six more Air Traffic Controllers to make round the clock operation at the Provo International possible and to open the airport in Grand Turk till 12 a.m.

Currently, 17 posts are filled and seven are vacant.

Smith was candid with his responses to recent industrial action from ATCs which led to resignations and firings.

“What we have to do is find systems to mitigate such actions and that has to start with filling these jobs, putting people in that want to work and doing right by people – and we always try to do right by our staff. Persons may not think that we are but we always do – we ain’t pick no fight,” he said in the meetings held at the NJS Francis building ahead of the National Budget Communication.

Smith indicated that recruitment was an issue across the board, ‘we need to find ways to recruit a little bit better’ he told the committee. Also in need of a push was capital spending or projects according to the CEO, who said the agency had ‘not been very good’ at meeting that mark but insisted they had recognized the issue and could do better.

A very important key performance indicator drawn up by the TCIAA is increasing passenger satisfaction at the Howard Hamilton International Airport. For the TCIAA part of this means a 30 percent increase in seating by Q2 of this year.

When queried on if they could even handle this increase the CEO said,

“The fact of the matter is we already have the capacity there. What we need is to make the service a bit better.”

Staff shortages have become such a frustrating issue that the TCIAA is instituting a scholarship program created by Authority Chairman, Selvyn Hawkins

“What the board wants to do is basically allocate $25,000 annually for a scholarship and they’ve approved it already.”

This process would cover tuition and all other costs for one student.

The student would return as a summer intern and other breaks to work at the TCIAA and upon graduation, assume a role at the company.

“We identify a particular skill we need, we go after it and we build capacity that is in a nutshell the nexus of the program,” Smith said.

The Turks and Caicos Islands Airports Authority (TCIAA) is allocated $49 million this financial year; over $20 million goes to salaries.

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Flow TCI offers Gigabyte Speeds to Customers

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Company delivers fastest speeds nationwide and boosts service reliability

 

PROVIDENCIALES, TURKS AND CAICOS, APRIL 19th, 2024 – More connections, faster speeds and greater support for customers. This is the promise from communications and entertainment provider, Flow TCI, as it embarks on an initiative to provide households with enhanced connections, greater overall reliability and now, for the first time, speeds up to one gigabit person second.

FLOW TCI Country Manager, Joanne Missick shared: “Our customers are at the heart of everything we do. We listen to our customers and want to exceed their demands, so we are focused on delivering unmatched value with customer centric products and services that are future proof. Flow subscribers on our Fibre Extreme package can now access up to one gigabyte speeds and subscribers on our Fibre Plus and Fibre Max package, as of April 1st, are also now benefitting from up to 5x more speeds.”

This is third speed boost for Flow customers in the last two years. This comes under the umbrella of the the Company’s recently launched “Working for You” campaign, where technicians are going into the neighborhoods across the island to conduct repairs, decommission copper cables, and increase the brand’s visibility in local communities.

“To date several neighborhoods have been served by technicians and the company will continue to go across the islands to ensure each neighborhood receives personal attention. We recognize that over the past few months some customers have experienced issues with the quality and delivery of our services. This is not what we stand for. Flow remains committed to providing technology and innovation that enables growth and positively impacts lives”, says, newly appointed Head of Technical Operations, Simeon Thomas.

Thomas adds, “We have been closely monitoring and reviewing every aspect of our network and there is room for improvement across each of the islands. Where we find shortcomings, we are taking concrete actions and assigning our technicians to rapidly make all necessary adjustments and improvements for our customers”.

Flow has made significant investments in expanding and modernizing its infrastructure and delivering a more robust and reliable network paving the way for the country’s digital transformation.

For more information on speed increases visit https://www2.discoverflow.co/turks-and-caicos/price-adjustment-speed-increase on our website.

Thank you for your usual assistance in sharing our stories.

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Harold Charles, Appointed Member to the HOA, goes out with a Bang 

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Dana Malcolm 

Staff Writer 

 

 

#TurksandCaicos, April 19, 2024 – In an explosive, self-proclaimed, final budget speech to the people of the Turks and Caicos, Harold Charles, Governors Appointed Member is expressing frustration that many Turks and Caicos Islanders are locked out of top jobs in the country and unable to build wealth.

”I’ve been in this country for 50 years and I’ve noticed all those big developments that come in— the majority of [managers]are foreign people. After 50 years, when are we going to have Belongers manage those businesses?” Charles asked.  “I’m upset, I’m frustrated [this is] their home.  They have nowhere else to go—- If we don’t empower our Turks and Caicos Islanders we will never get out of living paycheck to paycheck.”

Charles echoed what thousands of locals have been saying for years about the failure of successive governments to get the economic success in the country on a level that residents can participate in it.  The member maintained that not only were many locals working for scraps overseas and at home, but that it was the prerogative of the government to create avenues for them to move upward.

”I know the government’s heart is in the right place but somehow we’re not getting it together.  I’m talking (about) both PDM and PNPs. It must change.  There are many islanders overseas taking crummy jobs when all this opportunity is in the Turks and Caicos Islands.”

Calling on the government to enforce laws which allow islanders to get a foothold in lucrative industries, Charles maintained that TCIG could not let investors come and do as they liked.

”We have all these big companies making millions.  They brag about how much they’re making, yet how much do they contribute to the development of our people?”

Charles encouraged the government to mandate that locals were hired in the large developments, taking place across the country.

Capital projects and their execution was another issue that the member highlighted

”Over the past three years in office, we seem to be dragging our feet when it comes to the execution of projects,” he said, “the last budget reflected bitter-sweet sentiment.”

The government managed to spend $29 million of a $57 million capital project budget in 2023/24 financial year.

“Mr. Speaker prior, we promised the people infrastructural investment, improved roads, ease with doing business with TCIG, more scholarships, increased home care, a $900,000 special needs school.”

The Appointed member was also frustrated with the amount of money being allocated to crucial areas including the absence of allocations for a special needs school.

”We were promised that no Turks and Caicos Islander would be left behind while I appreciate the government’s commitment to ensuring this. I am concerned that the relatively low level of funding allocated to education and infrastructure may hinder the effectiveness of effort,” The member stressed.

Closing his speech, Charles maintained that it was “crucial that the sectors receive additional support in order to provide citizens with the necessary resources and opportunities for their development.“

Mr. Speaker it is imperative that we allocate our resources adequately and streamline processes to enhance the ease of doing business with the Turks and Caicos Government. We must priortise increasing service delivery capacity in critical departments such as the customer service department, the register of records, the department of motor vehicles and the list goes on,” express Charles.

Charles reminded that there is a growing demand on the services TCIG provides, especially as the country enjoys unprecedented, year on year, exponential economic growth.

Charles alongside Jameka Williams (Government Appointed Member) Willin Belliard (Governor’s Appointed Member number one) and Alvin Garland (Opposition Appointed Member) will very likely be the last set of appointed members in the House of Assembly of the Turks and Caicos as it transitions to a wholly elected parliament.

Harold Charles indicated it was unlikely he would join any leadership race describing the 2024-2025 Budget contribution as likely his final.

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