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TCIG commits over $30 million in gratuity and pensions for TCI Civil Service

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#TurksandCaicos, March 21, 2022 – The Turks and Caicos Islands Government made history in the House of Assembly on Thursday, 17 March 2022, with the reinstatement of civil servant pensions and gratuity through the unanimously approved passage of the Public Sector Employee Fund Bill 2022 and Pension (Amendment) Bill 2022.

The Government has committed over $30 million in the new fiscal year commencing 1 April 2022, for the delivery of terminal benefits for current public sector employees, as part of the Public Sector Employee Pension plan. This investment will aid in the first phase of the implementation of the Plan, to provide complete funding for contributions of both employer and employees.

The Public Sector Employee Fund Bill provides for the establishment of a defined contribution Pension Plan for Public Sector Employees whereby 6% of employees’ salaries will be paid into a pension plan for their benefit upon departure from the public sector through all circumstances including resignation, dismissal, redundancy, disability and also retirement.

The Pension (Amendment) Bill reinstates the option for civil servants – employed prior to 6th April 1992 – to elect to receive gratuity payments and a reduced pension upon retirement. Amendments also secured the right to a pension for all employees who complete a minimum of 30 years of service in the public sector, eradicating the requirement to retire at the age of 60 in order to secure their pension.

Civil Service Association President, Mr Demarco Williams commenting on the passage of the Bills stated, “The Civil Service Association Executive Body, my Vice President and I are overjoyed to have played such a vital role in a historic day in this country. The re-implementation of terminal benefits has always been one of our priorities, and we are elated to see it come to fruition.

We would like to publicly thank the Deputy Governor for being relentless, year after year, to see this through and of course to the Government for sharing in our vision and funding such a noble initiative. We look forward to many more positive collaborations, all to the benefit of public servants”.

Her Excellency Anya Williams, the Deputy Governor and Head of the Civil Service, commenting on the reinstatement of civil service gratuity and pensions said, “The passage of this legislation marks the accomplishment of a major milestone for the public service of these islands.

The Public Sector plays an integral role in supporting the government of the day in carrying out its mandate in all facets of society, including education, healthcare, security and safety in these islands.

We are grateful to public sector staff across the Turks and Caicos Islands for the important roles that they play and believe that it is every public servant’s right to not only be provided with the tools that allow them to appropriately carry out the roles that are recruited to do, but that they also receive fair compensation and benefits for doing so.

We are extremely pleased, not only to be able to reinstate the ability of pre-1992 employees to elect to receive a gratuity and a reduced pension but also to implement a new pension plan for post-1992 employees.

We are grateful to the government for supporting this initiative which we hope will not only change the lives of public servants across the islands but will also help to attract more persons to employment within the public sector.

A considerable amount of work was required to bring this initiative to fruition, for which I express my thanks to the members of the Benefits Committee for their hard work, dedication and stewardship.  You should all feel proud to be a part of this major accomplishment. On now to our next task in setting up the administration and to widening the programme to facilitate the participation of the wider private sector.”

The Premier Honourable Charles Washington Misick noting the important return of gratuity and terminal benefits for the public service stated, “Investment in this new pension and gratuity programme, marks the single largest investment in the public service of these islands and follows on from a $15 million investment during my last term in office as Minister of Finance, when $15 million was directly invested into public servants’ pay through the reinstatement of the 10% pay-cut in February 2013; the implementation of the Pay and Grading Review in April 2015 amounting to $9 million and a 2.5% salary increase in April 2016, providing a further $4million for public servants.

As a former police officer and civil servant, the wellbeing of the civil service will always be a priority for me and my government, demonstrating our commitment to improving the lives and livelihoods of public servants; and will continue to weigh high on our agenda.

This is a significant investment that is being made and I encourage you, civil servants – as the backbone of the government – to take pride in your work, to provide a high standard of delivery for the achievement of the objectives of the government and for the benefit of the people of these islands”.

Bahamas News

Mobile App brings unprecedented access & opportunity to Persons with Disabilities in The Bahamas

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#TheBahamas, December 8, 2022 – Opportunities and services previously out of reach for many Persons with Disabilities (PWD’s) in The Bahamas are now easier to access with groundbreaking upgrades to the ‘AccessAbility’ mobile app innovated by the National Commission of Persons with Disabilities (NCPD), through a Bahamian APP developer.

As of January 2023, PWD’s registered on the App will be able to book accessible transportation, allowing unprecedented freedom of movement.

For now, services available on the App include free interpreter services for the deaf and hard of hearing; disaster alerts from NEMA; free registration with NCPD which includes mapped location of registered PWD’s in times of disaster; complaints mechanism; bus routes showing street by street movement ; request for adaptive equipment and other services; business directory for organizations compliant with the Disabilities Act; Career/job listings; as well as trending local and international news and resources.

Financing for the App and the related public education programme was contributed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) through its Multi Country Office located in Jamaica which serves The Bahamas among five English-speaking countries in the northern Caribbean. The App is available for free download from Google Play and the App Store and is also preloaded on all new devices purchased from local telecommunications provider Aliv in partnership with NCPD.

At the launch event on Sunday (4 December), Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon.  Philip Davis said that The Bahamas aimed to achieve inclusion and accessibility on a level playing field for persons with disabilities and that the App was one of the means through which this could be achieved. He lauded the services provided through the app and highlighted the accessible transportation, one touch access to emergency services and sign language interpretation.

The Prime Minister announced that the Department of Labour will enable job listings in the AccessAbility app, and further reminded employers of provisions in the Disability Act for the employment of one person with a disability for every 100 employees. “I am asking corporate Bahamas to join the Government in recognizing the potential in persons with disabilities and providing employment opportunities that may never have been considered before,” he said.

Other major disclosures made by the Prime Minister included The Bahamas’ ratification of ILO Convention 159 establishing the right of PWD to vocational rehabilitation and employment opportunities, and the successful implementation of the Nassau Airports Development’s Sunflower Laynard programme offering empathetic and specialized service to travelling PWD’s

Minister of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Obediah Wilchcombe, said exclusion of PWD’s over the years has been troubling, but the mobile app will help bring the community closer to realizing inclusion and becoming part of the normalcy of the country. “We are elated and moved. PWD’s are celebrating because we have come a long way and UNDP is helping to make a difference” Minister Wilchcombe stated.

UNDP Resident Representative Denise E Antonio said recognizing that Disability Inclusion is a development issue requires continued attention and investment, UNDP supported the Government’s mission to expand digital inclusion to marginalized groups through the Digital Access for All (DAFA) Bahamas Project, specifically focusing on the AccessAbility Mobile App and public education.

She reiterated UNDP’s commitment to improving ICT infrastructure and digital access with and for PWD’s in The Bahamas; advancing gender equality and the empowerment of PWD’s in The Bahamas and forging partnerships to identify challenges and potential solutions to reduce inequalities against Persons with Disabilities.  “It is crucial for governments, public and private sectors, to collaboratively find innovative solutions with and for persons with disabilities, to make the world a more accessible and equitable place,” the Resident Representative noted.

She encouraged Persons with Disabilities to register with the NCPD through the App to ensure they benefit from a wide array of services.

The launch of the AccessAbility mobile app will be immediately followed by a multimedia public education campaign to encourage awareness, downloads, and usage among PWDs.

Technology and digitalization are considered enablers in UNDP’s global service offer of six signature solutions focusing on leaving no one behind. To this end, UNDP partners with countries to develop appropriate digital solutions which help advance poverty eradication, inclusion, equality and crisis resilience.  UNDP Multi Country Office in Jamaica serves Jamaica, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands.

 

Release: UNDP

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Bahamas News

Tropical Storm Owen in December?

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By Shanieka Smith

Staff Writer

 

December 8, 2022 – A low-pressure system observed in the Central Atlantic Ocean has led the National Hurricane Center to believe there is a 50 per cent chance a subtropical or tropical storm will develop. They reported on Tuesday,  the system was 800 miles northeast of the Leeward Islands.

NHC said that by Thursday or Friday, the system should move northeastward, where it will interact with a mid-latitude trough, thereby limiting the chances of development.

The potential subtropical or tropical storm would become the 15th named storm of 2022 and will be called Owen.

Here is the very latest forecast:

Central Subtropical Atlantic

Showers and thunderstorms have increased since last evening near a

large non-tropical area of low pressure located over the central

subtropical Atlantic about 850 miles east-southeast of Bermuda.

However, the system remains embedded within a frontal zone, which is

expected to become more pronounced later today as the low begins to

move east-northeastward at 20 to 25 mph toward colder waters and

interact with a mid-latitude trough.  Therefore, while the system

could show some subtropical characteristics today, its chances to

fully transition to a subtropical or tropical cyclone appear to be

decreasing.  Nevertheless, significant non-tropical development of

this low is expected during the next couple of days, and additional

information, including hurricane-force wind warnings, can be found

in High Seas Forecasts issued by the National Weather Service.  The

next Special Tropical Weather Outlook on this system will be issued

by 9 AM EST Thursday.

 

* Formation chance through 48 hours…low…30 percent.

* Formation chance through 5 days…low…30 percent.

 

Photo Credit: ACCUWEATHER

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Caribbean News

Jamaica’s PM Andrew Holness goes to Washington to discuss matters to help with crime

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By Shanieka Smith

Staff Writer

 

#Jamaica, December 8, 2022 – The Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness, travelled to Washington on Tuesday to discuss security matters with various US State Agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Justice Department. 

Holness said the aim of the meetings is to cut ties between local and overseas criminals and in turn strengthen the country’s crime-fighting efforts.

“I’m serious. If you are overseas and you are sponsoring, directing, and soliciting; if you are financing crime in Jamaica we’re going to get you,” he said.

In a press briefing in early November, the prime minister announced that a State of Emergency (SOE) was issued in seven parishes across the island. Meanwhile, Opposition Leader, Mark Golding has requested that the SOE be extended through to January 14, 2023.

However, a recommendation was made by the non-governmental human rights and justice organization Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) to reject Golding’s extension request.

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