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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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Bahamas News

Prime Minister Hon. Philip Davis pledges to govern in the interests of all Bahamians

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#TheBahamas, September 19, 2021 – During his ceremonial swearing-in today as the nation’s fifth Prime Minister, Hon. Philip Davis pledged to govern in the interests of all Bahamians and to consult widely with the Bahamian people.

The best way to make progress as a nation is to bring people together, said Prime Minister Davis, who was presented with his instruments of Office in ceremonies held at the Baha Mar Convention Centre, on Saturday 18 September 2021.

Prime Minister Davis was officially sworn in as Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas on Friday 17 September 2021 at the Office of the Governor General.

“We will uphold the constitution and the rule of law, and ensure that everyone is treated fairly, so that it’s not one rule for one set of people, and another for another set of people,” said the Prime Minister.

“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.”

Prime Minister Davis said that while there are big challenges ahead for The Bahamas, his team has the right vision and policies to take the country forward.

The Prime Minister said the new administration is coming into office at a time when the Bahamian people are hurting as never before.

The country faces many crises due to the COVID-19 pandemic, an economy in decline and deeply concerning challenges in education, said Prime Minister Davis.

If everyone works together towards a common purpose, in the common interest and for the common good, great things are possible for The Bahamas and its people, said the Prime Minister.

But no government can do great things on its own, Prime Minister Davis added.

“I am sure that my government can only succeed if we partner with the Bahamian people,” said the Prime Minister.
“We are going to listen, we are going to consult widely and we are going to bring people together.”

_
18 September 2021
Office of the Prime Minister
Commonwealth of The Bahamas
Contact: opmcommunications@bahamas.gov.bs
Website: opm.gov.bs

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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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