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Ministerial Statement by Finance Minister E. Jay Saunders on Home Owner’s Policy

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Delivered in the House of Assembly on March 17, 2022

 

#TurksandCaicos, March 24, 2022 – Mr. Speaker, on the 16th February 2022, Cabinet approved amendments to the First Time Home Owner’s Policy, aimed at assisting in promoting homeownership for Turks & Caicos Islands Status Holders and BOTCs, with commencement set for the 1st April 2022.

Mr. Speaker, our Government’s First Time Home Owner’s Policy allows first time property buyers, and persons renovating their homes after 10 years, to receive $50,000 in Stamp Duty and Import Duty concessions.

Now Mr. Speaker, this policy was first rolled out in 2019 by the then Government of the day, and unfortunately, but not surprisingly, it had a low uptake. Specifically, Mr. Speaker, during the period April 2019 to January 2022, the Ministry of Finance received approximately 100 applications, with 80 being approved for concessions totaling $570,000.

The breakdown of the concessions awarded are:

  • 31 Stamp Duty Waivers for a total of $441,035, and
  • 49 Import Duty Waivers for a total of $129,897.

Mr. Speaker, the previous Government had this policy in place for 34 months, and during that time less than 3 persons per month benefitted from it, with the average payout being approximately $17,000.

Mr. Speaker, our enhancements remove many, if not all, of the nuisances and obstacles that made the old policy unattractive. In addition to increasing the concession amount from $20,000 to $50,000, our Government also:

  1. Allows concessions to be applied to both Stamp Duty and Import Duties rather than one or the other, and
  2. Removed the restrictions limiting concessions to land purchases of $150,000 or less, and land + building purchases of $500,000 or less.

Mr. Speaker, imagine that. The old policy actually had restrictions that limited the concessions to land purchases of $150,000 or less, and land + building purchases of $500,000 or less. Mr. Speaker, as the previous Government crafted and/or signed off on this policy, this is tantamount to them intentionally punishing Turks & Caicos Islanders for wanting to own nice property. Mr. Speaker, the old policy basically said to Turks & Caicos Islanders (particularly Turks & Caicos Islanders) that if they could afford to buy land worth more than $150,000 or land + a building worth more than $500,000, that the Government didn’t think that they deserved the concession.

Mr. Speaker, our Government want Turks & Caicos Islanders to Live Best Lives, and that’s why we took a Red Pen to First Time Home Owner’s Policy. When we got to the restrictions that punished our people for wanting to own nice property, we told the Technocrats to “take it out!!!”. As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, I didn’t even wait for them to do it, I took it out myself.

Mr. Speaker, our desire to empower Turks & Caicos Islanders through property ownership didn’t stop at the First Time Home Owner’s Policy. We went further Mr. Speaker. Our Government also increased the Zero-Rated transactions under the Stamp Duty Ordinance from $25,000.00 to $100,000.00 for Turks & Caicos Islanders. Going forward, Turks & Caicos Islanders who purchase property worth $100,000.00 or less will pay zero (0) Stamp Duty. And those who purchase property for greater than that amount on: the islands of Grand Turk, Salt Cay, South Caicos, North Caicos and Middle Caicos, will pay a Stamp duty rate of just 4 per cent, and Providenciales and elsewhere in the Turks and Caicos Islands, just 6 per cent.

Mr. Speaker, with these policies, our Government just made private land as affordable for Turks & Caicos Islanders as Crown land. Mr. Speaker, we said that we will have people living their best lives, and that’s exactly what we’re doing.

Finance

Three Days to NIB Rate Increase for 2023

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

 

#TurksandCaicos, March 29, 2023 – On April 1st, the second round of increases on contributions at the National Insurance Board will kick in for the Turks and Caicos workforce.  Announced last year, the increases were instituted to keep the NIB from running out of money by 2027 as it services a population that is living longer with contributions that had not been increased in 30 years.

As the Government’s new financial year begins, increases at NIB will mean a higher cost for doing business and a higher cost for running the Government.

The private sector is expected to pay contributions at a rate of 11 percent on your taxable income. The hike is up from last year’s 10 per cent; six percent of which is to be paid by the Employer and five percent is to be paid by the Employee.  For wages of $2000, this will mean a $200 improvement in income per month to the NIB.  As for the burn on residents’ pockets, based on a minimum wage of $1200 monthly salary, that’s at least $60 dollars a month and $720 per year.

Public sector rates will move to 10.15 percent up from 9.15 per cent with the worker paying 4.575 per cent and the Government paying 5.575 per cent; that’s $54 a month and $648 a year at minimum wage.

The NIB rate as of April 1, 2023, will jump to 9 percent for self-employed individuals; For self-employed individuals at minimum wage, that is $108 dollars a month or $1296 per year.

As taxable incomes increase so will the contribution.

The increases follow a 2019 Actuarial review, undertaken every three years, which unearthed that the NIB was facing a dismal future, possible collapse. Contribution rates were growing at a rate much slower than NIB expenses, which included beneficiary payouts.  On that trajectory, the NIB’s earnings would be eclipsed by its income by 2027, forcing the worker protection plan to draw down on money saved for economic shocks like Covid-19.

Unsurprisingly, this was deemed untenable, and an immediate increase was recommended.

Despite this scramble to boost earnings, the NIB has simultaneously increased payouts.  Payouts for pensions, funeral grants, maternity grants and more will all attract bigger sums.

These incremental increases on contributions and payouts were all consultant recommendations, informed statements from the Board.

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Bahamas News

Work of NAECOB critical in ensuring high standards in education, says Minister Hanna-Martin

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By KATHRYN CAMPBELLBahamas Information Services
NASSAU, The Bahamas, March 29, 2023 – Over 100 schools in New Providence, public and private, and some 30 plus schools in Freeport have been inspected by The National Accreditation and Equivalency Council (NAECOB) to ensure high quality standards for the delivery of education.
“We will cover every island, every cay in this country to make certain that the facilities that we send our children to are adequate, conducive for learning, safe and sound for education,” said Thelma Grimes, chairperson, NAECOB.
“We are going to head to Cat Island and all the others before June.This is our announced visit. They [schools] have a chance to get things fixed that are not finished and [afterwards] we will have the unannounced.”
The Council informed the media of its progress during a briefing Monday, March 20, 2023 at its headquarters, Tonique Williams-Darling Highway.
Howard Newbold, Inspector and Council Member explained that the council’s seven inspectors are tasked with visiting every site or virtual space operating the following: primary/secondary schools, private/secondary, post-secondary, recognized, training, allied health and business institutions among others.
 Mr. Newbold said inspections include an examination of:
 -Safety and security standards-Human security which begins at the entrance to the property’-Physical security: safety mechanisms including smoke detectors, fire alarms and extinguishers (service date verification, and evacuation plan)-Primary grounds, playground equipment, swing sets and slides-Curriculum-Information management system (student records, staff schedules, registration certificate with NAECOB, business license, photos of the national leaders etc.)
The Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin, Minister of Education and Technical and Vocational Institute thanked NAECOB for their efforts. She described their work as “critical” and a part of an overall national thrust to ensure that the quality of education in the country is at a high standard.“We’re the Ministry of Education and they’re our schools. We are accountable to NAECOB. They ensure that what is happening on the campuses throughout the nation meets the physical standards and the qualitative standards of education. You would have heard classroom size and teacher/student ratio. We may have challenges, and we do at the Ministry of Education but when these issues are brought to our attention we are obliged and compelled to seek resolution to ensure that the standards are met.
“This is a quality assurance measure for the Ministry itself and our schools to ensure that public and private and public schools meet these standards. We value that. Because the objective of the Ministry is to ensure that we meet the standards so that our young people who enter these institutions are afforded the best opportunity possible.
 “Education is a cultural value; a norm. We submit ourselves to the work of NAECOB to ensuring what happens is done at least to make the acceptable standards of the delivery of education in our schools,” she said.
Cassia Minnis, registration officer, said “registration” certifies that a local educational institution/provider has met the criteria to offer an educational service in The Bahamas as outlined in the Education Act. She said it is mandatory that all educational institutions/provider offering/proposing to offer an educational service in the Bahamas must be registered according to the NAECOB Act and the Education Act.
 She said NAECOB is aware of “small” schools operating within residential homes and warned that this is in contravention of the law.
She encouraged the public to view listings of all registered institutions on the website at naecob.org
NAECOB is responsible for registering and accrediting primary schools, secondary schools, post-secondary schools, and any institution that offers training in The Bahamas.
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PHOTO CAPTIONS

BIS Photos/Mark Ford

Header: Seated at the table, from left: – Lorraine Armbrister, Permanent Secretary; Minister Glenys Hanna-Martin; Dominique McCartney Russell, Acting Director; Cassia Minnis, Registration Officer; Thelma Grimes, Council Chairperson; Howard Newbold, Inspector, Council Member; Shena Williams, Council and Inspector; Dorothy Anderson, Inspector; T. Nicola McKay, Deputy Chairperson;  (seated behind) Willard Barr, Council and Inspector.

1st insert: Thelma Grimes, Council Chairperson

2nd insert: Howard Newbold, Inspector and Council Member

3rd insert: The Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin, Minister of Education and Technical and Vocational Training

4th insert: Cassia Minnis, Registration Officer

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Bahamas News

Bahamas Golden Jubilee Events Announced, Celebrations Across 33 Islands & Cays

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#TheBahamas, March 27, 2023 – As the 50th anniversary of our nation’s independence approaches, Bahamians everywhere are teeming with excitement and expectancy around the year-long celebrations set by The National Independence Secretariat.

Yesterday, the Prime Minister joined H.E Leslia Miller Brice, Chair of The National Independence Secretariat to unveil the Calendar of Events for the 50th Independence celebrations.

The calendar comprises a host of events, initiatives and recommendations for celebrations throughout all 33 islands of The Bahamas.

At this jubilant occasion the PM stated, “Celebrating independence is about acknowledging the greatness around us, the greatness within us, and the greatness ahead of us.

We are Bahamians. That identity is special.”

View the newly released calendar of events here:

https://celebrate-bahamas.com/calendar-of-events/…

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