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‘Consumer is King’, a first effort by the TCI Department of Trade launched on Monday

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, December 7, 2021 – To a room of retailers and commercial business owners, the government minister with responsibility for Finance, Investment and Trade made a bullish statement and it forecasts the potential future of Turks and Caicos consumerism.

“I don’t want to see where people say uhhh it’s pretty good for the Caribbean, I want them to say it’s pretty good period. The service that you get here shouldn’t be watered down because you’re in the Caribbean.”

The charge came from Finance Minister. E.Jay Saunders at the launch of the Turks and Caicos Islands Government’s ‘Consumer is King’ campaign on Monday.

The campaign which is now in full swing with a visit to Grand Turk planned for today (December 7) and visits to North and Middle Caicos planned for Wednesday aims to educate TCI citizens about their rights under the Consumer Protection Ordinance.

Deputy Premier, E. Jay Saunders said one of his goals for the TCI was to get consumer standards on the islands on par with those in North America and the UK. During his address, he expressed how difficult it was to do something as simple as buying a laptop online.

He said. “There is a distinct gap between the ‘haves’ in North America and ‘have-nots’, us in the Caribbean but as consumers, we want the same things …That is why consumer protection is important…this is the step towards getting our standards to where they [North America] are.”

He says it was his hope that through the Department of Trade, Turks and Caicos consumers would experience ‘no difference’ in the quality of service available to them in stores on the island in comparison to those worldwide.

He cited the Department as ‘instrumental in educating Turks and Caicos consumers about their rights.

Lisandra Colley, the Director of the Department of Trade, Industry & Fair Competition also spoke at the event.  Ms. Colley debuted the campaign’s new tagline ‘Consumer Protection is Everybody’s business’ and reminded islanders that this was more than a tagline.

“The campaign aims to promote dialogue on the impact and application of the Ordinance, prevent unfair and misleading practices in the marketplace and to prevent the exploitation of vulnerable members of our community,” she stated at the opening, which was held at Beaches Turks and Caicos.

The director said the launch was not a one-off event, telling the attendees that, “This is a continuous campaign until every resident in the TCI is aware.”

Following the declaration, Colley announced the next phase in the government’s bid to make Turks and Caicos residents more aware, is a cross-country awareness initiative.

The initiative which is in Grand Turk today will run from December 7th to 10th and aims to impart information about the ordinance to consumers one on one. She announced North and Middle Caicos as the next stop on December 8th, South Caicos on December 9th, and the Providenciales on December 10th.

The Department’s efforts did not end there.

They also hope to reach their goal by educating a ‘large majority of islanders’ by distributing small bites of information about the ordinance using ‘Did you Know’ across different types of media.

A jingle competition for TCI high school students will also be held early next year in a bid to make the information as accessible as possible and further engage parents noting that, “When students have access to information, parents by default have to learn something from it.”

Director Colley expressed the hope that attendees would have been enlightened by the launch and charged them to share what was learned with their customers, staff and constituents across the Turks and Caicos Islands.

In attendance and helping to open the Consumer is King campaign, were Washington Misick, TCI Premier; Nigel Dakin, TCI Governor and executive members of the Turks and Caicos Chamber of Commerce.

 

 

 

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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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