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Letter To The Editor: Protecting Generational Wealth!

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#TurksandCaicos, September 9, 2021 – Despite the significant impact caused by the current COVID-19 pandemic, real estate reports show the market in TCI is at an all-time high, and continues to make remarkable gains.

With that being said, this should give us pause for thought; why in a global economic downturn, does TCI real estate continue to be such a hot commodity?

Could it be because we have such relaxed tax regulations, or is it a consortium of foreign investors with large sums of cash who are seeing this as a lucrative opportunity to acquire prime real estate?

In some cases, these properties are used to build lavish homes which are later utilized as short term vacation rentals, or better yet, just left for their next generation.

With this being a real possibility, are we forward thinking enough to undertake sharply focused policies to revise the existing laws and regulations in order to maximize revenue in this area?

We realize drafting legislation to enact policy changes is not an easy task, but the window of opportunity in this arena may be limited.

While the market is red hot and TCI is still listed as one of the top destination choices, the time to capitalize on the opportunity is now. At this given time, do we really need to relax the laws even more and give investors bigger tax breaks?

Albeit, over the years foreign investors have played an extremely important role in the growth and development of our country and we should be appreciative of that.

Nevertheless, we are at a stage in our development where it’s imperative that we take a closer look at the true overall impact it’s having on the betterment of both the country and communities at large.

When is enough, enough when it comes to selling off government land and generational properties to foreign investors? What our country needs is a more diverse portfolio other then selling off real estate.

Let’s face it, there are alternative foreign investment opportunities that could and should be explored. Areas such as light manufacturing or production like recycling on a larger scale, co-op sustainable fishing partnerships, restoration of our conch farm, call-centers, etc.

Generational property is the primary way for our millennials to build and accumulate wealth over time. So why continue to sell it off for pennies on the dollar without looking at the big picture?

With the changes in demographics and the high number of unskilled laborers in our country, these other types of investment opportunities could offer more employment prospects and social benefits. This will also help to raise the standard of living and allow us to become less reliant on low paying service jobs.

The underlying concern is, with the native population continuing to decline, Baby Boomers are pretty much the only ones remaining with generational properties.

Unlike many wealthy families in other developed countries, most of them will not inherit trust funds.

Therefore, we must preserve our only real asset which is generational land, and educate our children on the true value of our forefathers inheritance.

The reality is, most Turks Islanders are not in a financial position to hang onto undeveloped properties as long as they would like too, especially if they are cash strapped. They are then left in a precarious position when attractive offers are presented to them by realtors.

There is also a rising cost and huge demand for housing, especially in the high tourist areas that are the epicenter of jobs and businesses.

To help mitigate this, in my opinion, what is needed are more government affordable land and housing for the locals with the option to buy.

In addition, without having adequate banking systems in place to offer low cost property loans with affordable mortgage payments, it creates a disadvantage and more opportunities for foreign investors.

As places like Providenciales become over populated or have a shortage of inventory, the migration will move to South, North and eventually to Middle Caicos, creating a higher supply and demand market.

In the very near future, the business landscape as we know it in these Caicos islands will continue to evolve exponentially. Deserted land being sold right now, might not be what locals consider prime real estate, but it will be.

It is my belief, rising property value in these areas will be largely driven because of the recent proposed developments such as, a newly constructed marina, a welcome center and a reopening of the airport in North Caicos.

Over time, properties that were quite cheap to buy, suddenly becomes costly and the resale value will double or triple.  Once again, leaving the locals with limited options and very little transfer of wealth.

In essence, the real estate boom may not be a win, win for all in the long run. So the question remains, are we making sound real estate decisions in the best interest of the next generation?

 

Ed Forbes

POETRY :

Summer In Turks And Caicos Islands.

Summer by the sea and

It’s so beautiful to stop

And see watching the

Children smiling so bright

Having fun in the warm

Summer sunlight feeling the warmth

On my face and Turks And Caicos Islands is just

A beautiful sunny warm place and the

Taste the sweetest fruits and I’m

Watching the butterflies flow

Oh how I love the summer days

Smiling so bright kissing my beautiful wife

And all of the songs we sung where so

Beautiful and bright in the warm

Summer sunlight and it’s truly

Beautiful to see the little birds singing

To me it’s summer time and I’ll remember this summer’s day and all of my memories will never fade away Oh how I love summer time in Turks And Caicos Islands every day.

 

David P Carroll.

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COVID Works programme launched by Ministry of Physical Planning & Infrastructure Development

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#TurksandCaicos, September 21, 2021 – The Minister of Physical Planning and Infrastructure Development, the Honourable Akierra Mary Deanne Missick and the Physical Planning & Infrastructure Development team are pleased to announce the launch of the COVID WORKS Programme, that went live on September 1, 2021.

The Programme seeks to support many who have lost jobs and livelihoods, while providing labour intensive work for economic exchange opportunities for persons to be engaged.

Works are set out in three (3) levels and comprise a variety of categories example, cleaning, road works, demolition and general construction to name a few.

Level 1 – value $1,500 – $9,999

Level 2 – value $10,000 – $39,999

Level 3 – value $40,000 – $70,000

Turks and Caicos Islanders with valid business licenses are also being encouraged to submit proposals to the Public Works Department for consideration for works throughout the islands. 

Commenting on the launch of the programme, Hon. Missick said, “We are very much mindful of the impact that restrictions introduced by Government in an effort to mitigate the spread of Covid-19, has had on the islands, many continue to experience financial hardship. Whilst, the hospitality and construction sectors in Providenciales have rebounded well, as an Administration, we cannot rest knowing that other industries are still limping along.

As a result, during the remainder of this financial year, the Turks & Caicos Islands Government has now launched the COVID Works Programme to provide an opportunity for Petty and Small Contractors to assist the Government in the enhancement of our communities, through programmed works, to the benefit of all of us as residents”.

The Minister went on to note, “This Programme is set to the tune of US$5,000,000.00, and works will be rolled out across the Islands in batches, as we have to ensure that we do not go beyond the allotted expenditure and that financial oversight and transparency are maintained.”

The initial batch of works for South Caicos, which comprised the following, was returned and evaluated on Monday, September 13, 2021 and included:

South Caicos 

Demolition- Queen’s Shed

Demolition- Distribution Concrete Tank

Demolition- Old Clinic Building

Demolition- DECR Building

Demolition- Library Building

Repair of Water Cistern

Works for Grand Turk included:

Grand Turk 

Demolition- Blood Bank Building

Demolition- Geriatric Ward Building

Demolition- Kitchen Building

Demolition- X-ray Building

All returning bids must be sent to the COVID Works email at tcigworks@gov.tc

Kindly note that as of Monday, September 20, 2021, the following works are planned to be released:

Grand Turk: 

Beach Cleaning (Eastern portion of Grand Turk)

Street Cleaning (All areas)

Providenciales:

Beach cleaning (Areas of Shore Club and Five Cays)

Street Cleaning (All areas)

A number of other works for Middle & North Caicos, as well as Salt Cay will be released shortly. This is a six month program that will spread throughout the TCI and we encourage persons to continue to register via tcigworks@gov.tc or the local Public Works Department and District Commissioners’ offices, to be eligible for this opportunity.

These works will continue on a monthly basis and the programme will come to an end in March 2022.

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Grandstanding at best – Hon. Jameka Williams

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#TurksandCaicos, September 21, 2021 – Response to Mr. Robert Been Jr. – People’s Democratic Movement All Island Candidate 2016 and 2021 “Where is the Wo’k you promised PNP?”

Like some of you, I have the opportunity to read the statements that has been published by Mr. Robert Been asking the government where is the work. I can only describe this as a classic case of grandstanding. The issues highlighted by Mr. Been are areas of concern in our country, however these issues did not begin yesterday nor did they became a concern seven months ago. I’d like to remind Mr. Been that these same concerns were there during his former governing party the PDM. The previous government did nothing to address these concerns in their four year tenure. Where was your voice then Mr. Been? As a matter of fact, where was your voice the four years prior?

As it relates to education, the issues with spaces in Schools has been heightened as a lot of families can not afford the cost of private institutions since the pandemic, so there is now a high demand for seats in the public schools. Our government is working closely with the private Institutions with a subsidy program to address those needs. Again, this issue existed under the former government before the pandemic but they made no attempt to address it. In addition under your former administration, schools were closed for over one year with no plan on sight for its reopening. Our children have regressed and many repeating to catch up on the year lost.

On September 1, 2021 our government announced the new protocols and measures as it relates to Covid 19. Yes, there are concerns being expressed by the citizens and business owners as it relates to the impact of those decisions. I would like to inform you to that these decisions were not made alone. Stakeholders were engaged in these conversations and I have also accompanied the Hon. Jamel Robinson to sit downs with various groups of business owners to provide feedback, listen and take recommendations.

Countries around the world are imposing stiffer penalties and measures to help with the control of Covid 19 virus and the TCI is no different. We’ve seen reports published of cancellations that we believe are flawed to bully the government into reversing the decisions made. Our government has a responsibility to protect life and livelihood. There are decisions that are sometimes tough to make but it is our responsibility to make them no matter how unpopular. In time, the people of this country will see the benefit of those decisions concerning what’s happening around the world in even more developed countries as it relates to COVID-19.

Mr. Been, I would like for you to know that the island of Grand Turk was in a state of devastation since the storm of 2017 under the tenure of your government. There was an outcry for years by its residents. The cruise industry is at a standstill. However, I’d like to inform you that during our budget debates this current government has passes 8.3 million dollars for all the islands with 3 million ring fenced for Grand Turk alone in works and cash grant injections. The Ministry of Planning and Infrastructure Development has as of September 1, 2021 rolled out its contract program for works around the islands particularly in the Nation’s Capital.

Since the closer of the cruise sector in Grand Turk, the former administration had little to no engagement with Carnival partners on a plan to jump start that industry. It is extremely commendable that our government took the initiative to host a town hall meeting with all persons involved in the cruise industry in June 2021. Additional the Premier is in constant dialogue with Carnival Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean has now expressed an internet in having Grand Turk as one of their destinations.

Mr. Been, it is widely rumored that you may have an interest in Leadership of the PDM during the next convention. You are a personal friend of mine and I wish you well on your endeavors as this is a noble profession. However, my advice to you would be to offer solution based arguments so that the electorate sees your strength and potential instead of pointing fingers and grandstanding. Admittedly you mentioned that the elections are over. But are they really for you? As a government we do not have all the answers but I assure you that the decisions made are in the best interest of all of us including you. Hold on, better days are ahead.

 

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Canadians Fly South to Turks & Caicos!

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#TurksandCaicos, September 21, 2021  – Air Canada is back to the Turks and Caicos Islands with direct flights from Toronto to the Providenciales International Airport (PLS) and when the airline returned on Sunday September 12, it came nearly full with 169 passengers aboard.

Floyd Ingham, Acting CEO of the TCI Airports Authority, confirmed that Air Canada brought a Boeing 737-Max for the flight which will be weekly.  The aircraft has a capacity of 180 and actually left the PLS with 65 passengers.

Air Canada had been missing from the commercial airline offering for nearly a year due to the impact of coronavirus on its home base.  West Jet, also a Canadian airline, has not yet return to the PLS, but is proposing a November 7th resumption of flights, also from Toronto.

Canadian air carriers had discontinued flights to most sunny weather destinations back in January when cases there spiked to deadly levels.

On September 9, airlines were clear to fly.

Canada requires returning residents to present a 3-day old negative PCR test for re-entry, requires visitors to be fully vaccinated and currently has nearly 69 per cent vaccination rate across its provinces.

As a side bar, South West Airlines, which travels to TCI out of Ft Lauderdale is still on schedule for a return on October 7th confirmed Mr. Ingham who also confirmed that frequency of Air Canada service will ramp up on October 1st, with three flights per week planned.

 

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