By Denadrea Hamilton
#TurksandCaicos, April 15, 2022 – Representatives of the International Monetary Fund, IMF are in country on an invitation by the Turks and Caicos Islands Government to conduct a study on the current tax regime, hired to determine, says the Minister of Finance, how TCI can improve its tax earnings.
E Jay Saunders, Minister of Finance, Investment and Trade and Deputy Premier informed our news organization this past Sunday, the goal is a tax regime which is “progressive, sustainable, predictable and simple to administer.”
While there is no highlighting of VAT by the Finance Minister in his comments to us, it has become a blazing headline as the notion, rejected by Turks and Caicos in the last PNP Administration, continues to be an option.
The Finance minister in response to our question on whether the government is again wooing the idea of Value Added Tax, explained: “in terms of government revenue, we’re not looking at any specific area as yet.”
What will come of those session, is a report with recommendations, which could include that VAT.
Hon Saunders said since Government commissioned the study, it will be up to “us, if and how we want to move forward with the recommendations. All we’ve done at this moment, he shared, is commissioned a study of our tax system. Right now we’ve taken no position on taxes.”
In a statement from the Turks and Caicos Islands Chamber of Commerce on April 7, there was focus on the possibility of introducing a broad based tax, like VAT informed Daniel Le Vin, 1st Vice President of the Chamber.
The Chamber makes it clear that it does not support the introduction of VAT. No broad based tax is supported by the Chamber of Commerce including income or corporation tax. In fact, the Chamber explains VAT would be “bad” for the TCI because it would be so very costly and complex to administer; the Chamber feels it would be a negative blow to small business because of what it would take to administer a VAT tax.
The Chamber also expressed that not at all is a the TCI a low tax jurisdiction. Stating this: “the tax burden is relatively high within a regime which works reasonably well…”
The suggestion by the Chamber, improve on the efficiencies of the current systems.
Another suggestion, since almost everything is imported, continue the customs duty and raise taxes on other areas like accommodation tax and stamp duty.
Supplied to the IMF team by the Chamber of Commerce said LeVin that: “The Chamber cautions against any significant changes which might increase the overall tax burden and cost of living or doing business in the TCI or create administrative difficulties.”
CANARI outlines climate priorities ahead of Cop28
The Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI) informed that the Caribbean Climate Justice Alliance, in preparation for the upcoming annual COP28 in 2023, launched its “Caribbean Climate Justice and Resilience Agenda,” outlining the priorities for climate justice and resilience in vulnerable Caribbean small island developing states (SIDS).
In a press release, CANARI highlighted that the agenda recognizes the major threat of climate change to the region as well as aims to louden the voices of the at-risk groups “on the frontlines of the climate crisis and catalyze actions for climate justice and local resilience in the Caribbean SIDS.”
The priorities stated under the agenda are:
- Curbing emissions to limit global temperature
increase to 1.5 ̊C
- Scaling up locally-led solutions for adaptation and
loss and damage
- Improving access to and delivery of climate finance
for frontline communities, small and micro enterprises, and civil society organizations as part of a ‘whole of society’ approach
- Scaling up just, nature-based solutions for resilience
- Supporting a just transition for pro-poor, inclusive,
sustainable and resilient development
- Promoting gender equity and social inclusion
approaches to climate action
- Promoting youth and intergenerational equity as
core to the climate response
- Integrating a rights-based and earth-centered
approach in addressing all these priorities and ensuring climate justice
The at-risk groups referred to in the release include small-scale farmers and fisherfolk, rural women producers, income-poor people, elderly and disabled people, Indigenous and Afro-descendant communities, migrants, and LGBTQIA+ people.
Being cognizant of the severity of the effects of climate change on the Caribbean, CANARI referred to the fact that the very existence of the region is on the line.
“If greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated and global temperature exceeds 1.5 ̊C, the impacts of rising sea levels, more intense hurricanes, rainfall variability, ocean acidification, and other changes threaten the very existence of our way of life in the Caribbean and other SIDS that have contributed the least to global emissions.”
CARICOM Sec Gen speaks on Gender Based Violence
“Everyone must continue to invest in preventing violence against our women and girls (VAWG). It is an investment in our shared future,” were the words of Dr. Carla N. Barnett, CARICOM Secretary-General, as she reiterated the need for solutions against VAWG.
She called attention to VAWG as she gave a speech surrounding the annual campaign “16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence,” which runs from November 25 to December 10, 2023.
Barnett expresses the well-known fact that VAWG is one of the most prevalent issues affecting all corners of society.
“VAWG remains one of the most pervasive forms of human rights violations in the world and cuts across all races, cultures, genders, and educational backgrounds,” she maintained, as she continued to point out the sad reality that this is still a major issue despite regional and global policies.
“Despite the existence of regional and global policies and legislation to combat VAWG, weak enforcement and discriminatory practices remain significant barriers to ending VAWG.”
The Secretary-General highlighted statistics for VAWG, bringing attention to how serious and embedded this issue is in society.
She said that globally, 736 million women—nearly one in three—have experienced violence—physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence, non-partner sexual violence, or even both.
For the Caribbean region, she said surveys conducted between 2016 and 2019 inform us that one in two women experience intimate partner violence, which is higher than the global average.
In continuation, Barnett expressed that the campaign calls everyone to action against VAWG, including “development partners, civil society organizations, women’s organizations, youth, the private sector, and the media.” Also, world governments are being asked to share how they are investing in gender-based violence prevention.
Ending her address, the Secretary-General urged everyone to wear the color orange for the duration of the campaign, as well as on the 25th of each month, “as a symbol of hope for a brighter future where women and girls live free from violence.”
Sea Patrol Vessels Approved by Cabinet, October 11 Meeting
#TurksandCaicos, November 25, 2023 – Her Excellency the Governor, Dileeni Daniel-Selvaratnam, chaired the 26th meeting of Cabinet on Wednesday, 11 October 2023 at the Governor’s Office, Providenciales.
All Members were present except the Hon. Josephine Connolly.
- Approved the Consultation Report on the Proposed Amendments to the Turks and Caicos Islands Immigration Ordinance with amendments and agreed for the amended document to be brought back to Cabinet for final approval for onward submission to the House of Assembly.
- Approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Turks and Caicos Islands Government (TCIG) and Geta Crew Holding Ltd. for a mixed use development project on the island of Grand Turk, with the view of entering into a Development Agreement as per the Encouragement of Development Ordinance and the National Investment Policy.
- Approved the renewal of rental lease agreement, for various Government offices, between TCIG and Waterloo Property Management, Grand Turk.
- Approved the awarding of the following contracts:
- PN 005694, TR 23/13, Furniture and Equipment for NJS Francis Building; and
- PN 005696, TR 22/10, Purchase of Patrol Vessels.
- It noted the update from Her Excellency the Governor regarding the upcoming visit of UK Ministers to the Turks and Caicos Islands.
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