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Opposition Leader wanted an end to Carnival monopoly; says Gov’t missed the boat

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#TurksandCaicos, October 22, 2021 – Did the Turks and Caicos miss a chance to become greater owners of the cruise industry in the recent Development Agreement signing by country leaders with CarnivalCorp?  The Leader of the Opposition Edwin Astwood and he says, some resident of Grand Turk seem to think so.  In a statement issued following the signing ceremony he chided the Government for missing the boat.

“The Opposition welcomes the signing of the new Carnival Contract, but with a degree of caution; hoping that this time the Contract is in the best interest of the people of Grand Turk, and the Turks and Caicos on a whole.

Many persons are feeling that the better decision for our people and the country was for us to take possession of our Cruise Port and carry out the necessary upgrades and extension, as needed and those required by Carnival, as a joint initiative or as a Government contract for our facility.

The potential of other ships call into Grand Turk was literally impossible giving the tight restrictions, and the “exclusivity” the previous contract offered to Carnival Cruise Line.”

Astwood, who is a Grand Turk member of parliament, resident and business owner stands to benefit as much as anyone when cruising to the Capital resumes in December, however, he said his concern is about more than what or who Carnival Cruise Line is projected to ferry into the country; it is about ending 15-year monopoly.

“While there may be perhaps a few short-term benefits, and really only a few of so much to the signing of this new contract with Carnival not taking possession of the Facility at this time is certainly a great loss of opportunity for the country to realize much greater revenue from the Cruise Industry in Grand Turk.

The previous contract was seen to be a huge albatross around the necks of the Grand Turk and Salt Cay residents, and others from around our country. Plagued with so many restrictions, it was akin to modern day slavery when trying to do business with the cruise line,” he said in a statement issued on October 14.

Announcements made by the Premier in June (2021) revealed that talks were ongoing about widening the options for other cruise brands into Grand Turk.  Residents at a town meeting applauded the idea and the Opposition Leader reflected on the absent update on those negotiations.

From the LOO’s statement:  “The Hon. Premier, in a press conference in June, told the country that Royal Caribbean will be joining Carnival in cruising to Grand Turk. He went on to say that “Royal Caribbean currently has a technical team on the ground in Grand Turk”, adding that the “Government will make some moves to create a level playing field so that everyone who is interested has the opportunity to benefit. We are still working out some details with Carnival because most people would remember that part of Carnival’s arrangement was EXCLUSIVITY on Grand Turk,” he said.”

Premier Washington Misick responded to the concerns raised about the lack of details supplied about  the new development agreement and held a press conference on Wednesday (Oct 20) in an effort to shed light on the finer points.  The media event improved understanding, but still left many questions unanswered.

The public and media were told the new agreement was an amendment to the existing arrangement.  It gave TCI Government a larger slice of the passenger tax and more autonomy on how to spend on development and enhancement projects.  Whether the life of the contract is lengthened, what concessions – if any – were offered, the specifics on the dock expansion and the scope of the “other works” included in Carnival’s $25 million dollar investment were not disclosed.

“We can only hope that the Premier and the PNP Administration had the foresight THIS TIME to avoid the people of the Turks & Caicos Islands, in particular the people of Grand Turk, being trapped and suffocated by “exclusivities” in any form, being given for another 20 year deal!!!, said Hon Edwin Astwood, who is also the People’s Democratic Movement party leader.

The Premier also said a new dock to accommodate Royal Caribbean Cruise line, which has expressed interest in the destination, will not come before the next budget cycle, which is April 2022.

 

 

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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