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Cruise Ships & Passengers in time for Christmas

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#TurksandCaicos, October 22, 2021 – Grand Turk residents will very soon begin to notice ships in port.  These ships will not be laden with the typical happy-go-lucky, tour-taking, souvenir-buying and lunch-eating cruise passengers but instead gritty get-down-to-work dredgers who are now hired to clear the path for cruise ships to return to the island.  It has been 18-months since a cruise ship has docked in the Capital of the Turks and Caicos Islands ad a Development Agreement signed on October 13 will end the drought in time for Christmas according to Washington Misick, Turks and Caicos Premier.

“The Turks and Caicos Islands Government signed an amendment to a contract with Carnival. Because we have had a contract, since 2006, with Carnival.  WE have had 11 meetings in person and over the internet since May of this year to get to where we go to.  We now have an agreement which we intend to consolidate at some stage, shortly.  That agreement sees and extra $25 million in the Grand Turk Crusie Center and that includes expansion of the current facility, including the dock facility.”

The new Development Agreement went unexplained prior to and during the signing ceremony.  There was criticism for the PNP Administration for missing the opportunity to inform residents of the contents of the document and what benefits there were, more specifically, for the Turks and Caicos.

The new agreement was characterized as “superior” and outlines a sizable investment from CarnivalCorp to elongate the dock and from it, the TCI Government gains some autonomy.

“…a Community Enhancement and Sustainability Fund for Grand Turk to make sure that we can protect the environment, we can investment money into the urban redevelopment of historic districts, we can improve what I will call the down town, because what we will have to do is almost to enhance and create a down town.  This money will now be available to those who are driving this fund and the decisions will be made by those Trustees.  Carnival (Cruise Line) will now have no input or control over how that is spent or any decision making relating to it; to me that is a huge step forward,” said the Premier in a press conference designed to expound on the Agreement.

The Turks and Caicos Islands will finance the projects of the new Fund from its portion of an increased passenger fee of $16 per person; at least $9 of the fee will belong to the Turks and Caicos, the balance is for Carnival.

“The government will receive the majority of that …” explained the Premier as he announced the new Community Enhancement and Sustainability Fund will not suffer from the complexities of the previous Infrastructure Development Fund.

Decisions, action and spending can be more promptly executed in order to improve the aesthetics of the island which has struggled to rebound to its grandeur since Hurricane Ike of September 2008; damages and destruction was compounded in 2017’s hurricanes Irma and Maria.

“The dredging is a substantial part of the work and ships cannot arrive when that is happening.  The dredging is on its way and it will take about three weeks to complete.  Once the dredging is completed the ships can start coming in.  And the rest of the work can take place while the ships are coming in.

We expect to welcome cruise passengers as early as the first week of December 2021.”

The Premier said the cruise industry of Grand Turk is responsible for 30 per cent of employment in the capital of the Turks and Caicos Islands.

 

Caribbean News

Barbados bestows Humanitarian Award on PAHO director Dr. Carissa Etienne 

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By Shanieka Smith

Staff Writer

 

#Barbados, November 25, 2022 – The newest recipient of Barbados’ Humanitarian Award is outgoing Pan American Health Organization Director, Dr Carissa Etienne.  The government of Barbados grants this award to frontline workers who were instrumental during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Upon receiving the award, Dr. Etienne expressed her gratitude for the recognition, noting, however, that she was more grateful for the opportunity to have served on the island. She also praised Prime Minister, Mia Mottley for her diligence in leading the country and regional involvement during the pandemic.

Humanitarian medals were also given to Frontline workers who risked their own safety to ensure the needs of the public were met. Those who held supporting roles on the frontline received humanitarian lapel pins, and those who made generous donations were given humanitarian plaques.

Dr. Etienne highlighted one major lesson from the pandemic, “we are only safe when the weakest among us is also safe”.

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Bahamas News

Bahamas and Turks & Caicos Immigration Ministers make appearance on TCI Radio Talk Show

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TheBahamas, November 25, 2022 – “We have a humanitarian concern of course but we can only absorb so much” was how Fred Mitchell, Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Public Service in The Bahamas addressed the issue of the UN constantly nudging Caribbean countries about the deportation of migrants and recommending that it not be done.

He was speaking Thursday November 24 with Cheryl and Zhavargo on First Edition which airs on RTC FM.

While acknowledging that the UN offices likely ‘have to do what they do’ Minister Mitchell  explained that the current irregular migrants trying to get into the Bahamas did not fit the bill of ‘refugees’ as defined by the UN.

“We have a treaty obligation that says that if people have a fear of persecution in their home country that we have an obligation to take them in as asylum seekers. The people who come through on these boats from the south of us are not asylum seekers. They are afraid of poverty and that’s a difficult issue but in a legal sense we’re not obligated to embrace people on that basis.”

He cited a study that had found, on any given day there were around 7,000 illegal migrants in The Bahamas trying to get to the US maintaining that his chain of islands had to take a stand on the issue.  The Foreign Affairs minister acknowledged that  TCI was in an identical situation, citing also the the cultural effects of irregular migration.

“There is a cleavage which has developed in our own society over this; people are very concerned that we could lose our identity if we do not get on top of it.”

Earlier this year Arlington “new sheriff in town” Musgrove, Minister of Immigration and Border Services in the Turks and Caicos had described statements calling on surrounding countries to do more to assist persons fleeing Haiti as “reckless and misguided.”

“Haiti has a population of 11.6 million people. How could any small developing state like the Turks and Caicos Islands assist that number of people or even the smallest fraction of them? We have a population of some 47,000 persons, and our health care, education and other social systems remain fragile and could never withstand an influx of refugees. This would be a risk to our very own livelihood,” he had said.

He was interviewed in the same show on Thursday prior to Mitchell and expressed a similar determination to crack down on illegal migration.

“I want to stress this. If we catch anyone harbouring illegals, it could be my mommy, she’s going up. We cannot tolerate this. We’re catching the sloops so my Haitian brothers and sisters should stress to them don’t waste your money we’re sending you back.”

Turks and Caicos, this year passed a law, doubling fines and prison times for individuals harbouring illegal migrants.

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Bahamas News

Former Bahamian Cabinet minister defends record amid ongoing police investigation

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By Shanieka Smith

Staff Writer

 

#TheBahamas, November 25, 2022 – Former Youth, Sports and Culture Minister, Lanisha Rolle is reportedly currently under investigation due to several allegations that came up during her tenure; she however knows nothing of this alleged criminal investigation.

After the minister resigned – unceremoniously –  in February 2021 with little explanation, the ministry was locked down by the Prime Minister for an audit of the National Sports Authority, which fell under her ministry.

Auditor General Terrance Bastin revealed that unauthorised contracts had been issued, some of which were later forwarded to the NSA for payment. Three cheques to contractors were also found, which were paid to individuals and then collected by a senior ministry official.

Despite the allegations, Rolle said she upheld cabinet standards and good governance during her tenure. She added that a minister is not always aware of “everything in a ministry at any given time.”

Rolle said she has not yet been approached by the RBPF regarding the audit findings.  Having served as a member of the Police Force for 11 years herself, Rolle told a crush of media on Wednesday (November 23) that she continues to trust that they will follow the legal process and in due time, the truth of her innocence will be revealed.

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