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Premier and Deputy Premier discussed high-priority issues with UK Government at Joint Ministerial Council Forum in London

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#London, UK, November 27, 2021 – UK Ministers, Overseas Territory (OT) elected leaders and designated representatives gathered in London, United Kingdom (UK) on Tuesday 16 and Wednesday 17 November for the first in-person Joint Ministerial Council (JMC) since 2018. The Turks and Caicos Islands delegation was led by the Premier Honourable Charles Washington Misick and consisted of the Deputy Premier Honourable Erwin Jay Saunders along with Tracy Knight, the Turks and Caicos Islands Government representative in London.

Delegates attended a total of eight sessions over the course of the two-day plenary on matters relating to the environment and oceans, the International Maritime Organisation (III) Code Audit, the UK-OT relationship, economic resilience, security and law enforcement, health and inclusivity.

The UK set out its commitments to the Overseas Territories in the paper Global Britain in a Competitive Age: the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy which articulated the collaboration with the Overseas Territories to address a variety of challenges including climate change, investment in physical infrastructure and marine protection.

The UK and the Overseas Territories agreed a joint communiqué which outlined and affirmed collaborative commitments to improve co-ordination across UK Government departments and conduct regular dialogue on relevant policy issues.

Noting that the COVID-19 pandemic, natural disasters and other external elements, pose a serious threat to the small and fragile economies of Territories, the UK Government reiterated continued partnership to strengthen health services in Territories through existing and new links with the UK; and the exploration of methods to diversify Territory economies and bolster resilience and investment; and assured that the interests and needs of the Overseas Territories will be considered when creating policies and programmes that will promote sustainable economic development.

The UK Government also shared information on the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF) which supports and delivers activity including the Justice Programme and Border Security Programme in the Territories to provide funding and other assistance; and to fortify and modernise law enforcement capabilities in crime-fighting and border protection.

To enhance the safety and security of citizens, law enforcement capabilities and increase capacity in the Territories, the UK Government and the Overseas Territories agreed to share information and best practices and take a multiagency strategic approach across Governments to mitigate crime.

It was also agreed that the UK would consider new maritime technologies that might assist the Overseas Territories in the management of issues involving energy and waste.

On Thursday, 18 November the Premier and Deputy Premier held bilateral talks with the Right Honourable Amanda Millings, Minister with responsibility for the Overseas Territories in the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) on a range of issues pertinent to the TCI.   

The Premier, remarking on the conclusion of the Council Conference stated, “The Turks and Caicos Islands continues to perform favourably overall, in comparison to our competitors in the region; however, there is much to benefit from and improve upon through close collaboration with the British Overseas Territories (BOTs). There seems to be a genuine interest by Minister Amanda Milling, OT Minister in the FCDO, to listen and use UK ministries and departments to assist the OTs to modernize systems and improve efficiency.

In our bilateral meetings with Minister Milling, all the representations made by TCIG were agreeably received and working groups will be established to follow through. These include: the process to escalate the delivery of the Providenciales International Airport Redevelopment; the resolution to TCI’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) with its neighbours; the establishment of border control, maritime surveillance and policing; de-risking of certain TCI economic sectors; the introduction of biennial budgeting; and the delivery of e-governance”.

At a special event at during the JMC, delegates and students from the Overseas Territories, including Mr. Keanu Been of TCI, had the opportunity to meet and hear from His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge on the need to tackle climate change.

While in London, the Premier and Deputy Premier also met with the Turks and Caicos Islands All Party Parliamentary Group, Chaired by Alicia Kearns MP. The TCI All Party Parliamentary Group consists of Members of both the House of Commons and the House of Lords with an interest in the Islands.  The group champions the Islands in Parliament, raising issues of concern and holding HMG to account when required.   

The JMC is the highest forum for political dialogue and consultation between the UK and elected leaders and representatives of the Overseas Territories. The aim of the annual conference is to promote cooperation in areas of mutual interest and provide a setting for the exchange of views on political and constitutional issues between the governments of the Overseas Territories and the UK Government.

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Bahamas News

Agreement inked between Bahamas and Dubai

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#DUBAI, UAE, January 18, 2022 – A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Public Service of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, Hon. Fred Mitchell and His Excellency Sheikh Shakhboot bin Nahyan Al Nahyan, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the United Arab Emirates, today in Dubai.

The signing of this MOU begins a fruitful relationship between The Bahamas and the UAE. The UAE government is committed to providing technical assistance through their Technical Assistance Programme.  Embedded in the agreement, is a provision that at least fifty percent of the participants in the training programme are women.

Both The Bahamas and UAE are committed to working together on several fronts for the mutual advancement of both countries. The exchange of information will be invaluable as The Bahamas continues to push through the setbacks of the pandemic toward national and economic growth.

 

Photo Caption: Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas the Hon. Philip Davis, centre, Minister Mitchell, left, and HE Sheikh Shakhboot bin Nahyan Al Nahyan.

(Photo/OPM Communications)

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Bahamas News

MP’s Graduate with Parliamentary Governance Certificates

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January 18, 2022 – The Caribbean Democrat Union (CDU), in partnership with the Conservatives Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) Programme, held an Online Graduation Ceremony on Friday January 14th 2022 for fifteen (15) Members of Parliament who successfully completed a one year certificate programme in Parliamentary Governance with McGill University in Canada.

This professional development certificate programme is recognized by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) and provided MP’s with important theoretical and practical knowledge in executing their roles and responsibilities as legislators. Sponsorship for the MP’s was provided by the Conservatives WFD Programme.

The successful graduates included:

  • Tracy Panton– MP Albert, UDP, Belize
  • Shyne Barrow – MP, Mesopotamia, UDP, Belize
  • Senator Hon. Sheena Pitts – UDP, Belize
  • Kerensia Morrison – MP St. Catherine North Eastern, JLP, Jamaica
  • Tova Hamilton – MP, Trelawny Northern, JLP, Jamaica
  • Dr. Michelle Charles – MP, St. Thomas Eastern, JLP, Jamaica
  • Tamika Davis – MP, Hanover Western, JLP, Jamaica
  • Rhoda Crawford – MP, Manchester Central, JLP, Jamaica
  • Anne Marie Vaz – MP, Portland Eastern, JLP, Jamaica
  • Krstyal Lee – MP, St. Anne North Western, JLP, Jamaica
  • Robert Miller – MP St. Catherine South Eastern, JLP, Jamaica
  • Heroy Clarke – MP, St. James Central, JLP, Jamaica
  • Dwight Sibblies – MP, Clarendon Northern, JLP, Jamaica
  • Morland Wilson – MP, Westmoreland Western, JLP, Jamaica
  • Senator Hon. Shevern John – NDP, St. Vincent and the Grenadines

The Online Graduation Ceremony was attended by The Most Hon. Andrew Holness Prime Minister of Jamaica, Maria Miller Conservative MP UK, Dr. Hon. Godwin Friday Leader of the Opposition St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Hon. Patrick Faber Leader of the Opposition Belize, Carola Weil Dean of Continuing Studies McGill University, Nick Francis Secretary General CDU, and other officials from the UK Conservative Party’s International Department and Faculty and Staff from McGill University.

Mr. Nick Francis in his remarks at the ceremony noted that this initiative was birthed through greater engagement and consultation with stakeholders in the region in light of the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and he was grateful to the administrators at McGill University for partnering with the CDU and the Conservatives WFD Programme to make this online training possible.

Hon. Patrick Faber and Dr. Hon. Godwin Friday extended congratulations to the graduates and expressed gratitude to the Conservatives WFD Programme, the CDU and McGill University on this successful collaboration to enhance parliamentary democracy in their respective countries.

A second cohort of trainees will commence the Parliamentary Governance Certificate with McGill University in March of this year and will include young prospective MP’s.

Quotes:

Dean of Continuing Studies at McGill University Carola Weil extended congratulations to the fifteen (15) MP’s for successfully completing the yearlong certificate programme in Parliamentary Governance and noted that this was an “important step towards the continuation of good governance and democracy around the world”

In addressing the graduates at the ceremony, Prime Minster the Most Hon. Andrew Holness noted his expectations that the training received will help to inform their advocacy, guide their involvement in policy development, and “contribute to a new cadre of political representatives that will always strive for the highest standards of excellence in governance, in parliamentary practice, and in political representation.”

Conservative MP Maria Miller UK in a pre-recorded message to the graduates (the majority being new female MP’s) noted that in light of the challenges facing women in politics, “the Conservative WFD Programme is committed to strengthening democracy by creating a much more inclusive, accountable and transparent political system.”

 

Press Release: CDU

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Education

Education Minister announces Platinum Partnerships for internet and tablet program amidst COVID surge

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By Shaniek Smith

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, January 15, 2022 – Schools did not resume in person learning in the Turks and Caicos on January 4, instead it was back to virtual classes for 7,400 children in the British overseas territory due to an omicron-driven surge in Covid-19 infections.

It was announced on the New Year’s Day holiday for TCI, January 3 in a press conference hosted by Rachel Taylor, the Minister of Education, and attended by Jamell Robinson, Minister of Health and supported by Premier Washington Misick, who was also at the live event.

In a promised update, parents got the not-so-good-news, virtual classes would resume at least until the end of January due to the surge and staff shortages being experienced.  Turks and Caicos, up to Thursday January 14 had over 800 active cases, five new deaths and a 600 per cent increase in hospitalisations.  The Minister said the decision was in the interest of safety.

The Minister also promised to get devices and internet to students in order for them to participate in learning during this virtual-only season.  The press conference on January 13, welcomed partners Flow, Digicel and the Pine Cay Project.

In her address, chair of the Pine Cay Project, Marie Landel, said that an urgent call from Dr. Carlton Mills, a member of their board of trustees revealed that about 750 students would be without internet connection and devices.

The Pine Cay Project responded to that information and has agreed to pay for internet for 30 days students, with its partner in the initiative, DigicelTCI.  It is an $18,000 investment in education continuity for hundreds of children.

“We had strong discussions on what we should do with the money that we collect every year, so yesterday we agreed to the funding in emergency situation of 300 internet connections and devices that are going to help the students in need, and we’re very proud to be able to act quickly,” Landel expressed.

Additionally, the Marketing Manager at Digicel TCI, Mr Drexler Smith, said Digicel has partnered with the Ministry of Education to provide about 1,000 tablets for public schools. Smith added that 75 MiFi devices valued at 7,000 dollars were provided; they come with free data services for up to three months for students in need.

Digicel has also created a special education plan for e-learning with specific zero-rated sites and applications. The company partnered with Pine Cay and other private entities in this regard. Various schools and educational facilities in South Caicos, Five Cays, and Providenciales have benefitted from laptops, data plans, MiFi’s, and e-learning kits.

Marketing Executive Flow TCI, Darron Hilaire, also shared the contributions Flow made to the education sector since the pandemic.

“Within the last three years, Flow TCI, through our charitable foundation, would have donated $130,000 worth of ICT equipment to 2 schools respectively in Grand Turk and in Providenciales for the outfitting of the new computer labs to help facilitate the ministry’s vision to foster an efficient e-learning environment for students,” he said.

Mr. Hilaire added that within the first year of the pandemic, Flow responded to requests from the Ministry to increase the bandwidth to public schools in the TCI. Hilaire said Flow home internet speed doubles automatically at no cost to its customers in early July.

He said that within the last 60 days, Flow TCI announced a recent donation of $25,000 dollars to two schools in North Caicos and one in Providenciales. The donation was in aid of increasing connectivity and infrastructural upgrades.

“As we come to the end of this phase of the project, our objective is to look at doing the same for other schools in the second phase of the projects to further arm our schools with the access to technology to provide the best quality education to students,” Hilaire added.

Amanyara Resort, not present at the press event, was said to be working on additional laptops for hundreds of children despite having already donated to several schools in Providenciales.

Minister Rachel Taylor and her team, including Eugene Grant, ICT Education Officer at the Ministry of Education and Mark Garland, Deputy Director of Education thanked the donors; they were labelled Platinum Partners by the Minister.

 

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