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New Fiscal Year for the Turks and Caicos

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#TurksandCaicos, April 4, 2022 – April 1st passed over the weekend, and with it the start of the new fiscal year for the Turks and Caicos Islands, bringing several changes into effect.

The Gun Amnesty has officially ended and with it any chance of individuals with illegal firearms to avoid prison time if they are caught, with an unregistered gun or ammunition. Now, April signals the start of a new policing strategy to get illegal guns off of the street.

The initiative, which offered a cash incentive to the handover of unregistered weapons, was announced at the start of March.  The Amnesty ran March 1-31st.

“Be reassured, we will match them every step of the way.  We hope it does not reach there, but we are capable of doing just that, said Rodney Adams, Deputy Commissioner of Police in addressing a concern that the Royal TCI Police is outmatched when it comes to firepower.  He added, “We will continue to do what needs to be done in terms of enforcement, however, the good news is that for this time, we are giving them one month to turn it in, and obviously moving forward, there will be zero tolerance.”

April also brings with it some reductions in taxes and the Food & Fuel Tax breaks came into force on the first day of the month.

In announcing the measure, designed to offset the staggering weight of rising inflation and the exacerbation caused by sanctions which followed the Russian invasion of the Ukraine, Premier Washington Misick held a national press conference to explain how government plans to help.

“We are initially providing a relief of $15 million dollars over the next 12 months” this, he said was to ‘hold down costs to consumers.’

April 1 is also the start of the announced increase in National Insurance Board payments for workers and employers across the country.

“In order to protect its reserves, which are specifically set aside for the continuous payment of future benefits during periods of economic downturn, it is necessary to immediately increase the existing contribution rate structure.

Cabinet in accordance with the recommendations of the Actuary, has accepted and approved the implementation of incremental increases in the current contribution rates over the next three years with effect from April 1, 2022,” a January 2022 press release from the NIB explained.

In the private sector, the rate on taxable income is raised to 10 per cent; 5.5 per cent is to be paid by the employer and 4.5 per cent is to be paid by the employee.

In the public sector, the rate is up to 9.15 per cent with the worker paying 4.075 per cent and the employer or government paying 5.075 per cent.

The self-employed NIB rate is hiked to 8 per cent.

Pension increases for retired individuals over 65, who are for the first time accessing their pensions will see incremental increases up to 30 per cent; however the increase is for those who opt to tap their retirement later.

Also to begin April at the NIB, an outright end to invalidity payments which do not meeting a 300 contribution payment threshold.  Previously, invalidity beneficiaries were accepted after 150 payments into the plan

Another whopper announcement for April came from the TCI Government for its 2,500 staff members.

The new Public Sector Employees Pension Fund and the  Pensions Amendment Bills were also passed in the  House of Assembly with a budget of $23 – $30 million dollars in the first year of the benefit to civil servants.

This means public sector workers officially have a working pension plan along with their NIB pension plan; historic and effective on April 1.

The new savings strategy – which employs a co-payment system – was designed to ensure islanders can look forward to healthier remuneration for disability, death, late and early retirement.

Attorney General Rhondalee Brathwaite-Knowles said, “It is the right of every public sector worker 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.”

Additionally, the start of the quarter offered to business licensees across the Turks and Caicos Islands a three-month opportunity to pay off their business license arrears. Government presented a ‘debt forgiveness’ offer to the tune of $1.4 Million and cancelled all penalty charges attracted due to unpaid business license fees, dating back to 02018.

 

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STATEMENT FROM THE HONOURABLE C. WASHINGTON MISICK, PREMIER TURKS AND CAICOS GOVERNMENT

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#TurksandCaicos, May 22, 2024 – As Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands, I assure our American friends that the Turks and Caicos Islands prioritizes hospitality, cultural exchange, and mutual respect.  You will find our doors open and our hearts eager to share the warmth and beauty of our homeland.  We value the trust and confidence travelers from around the world place in us when they choose the Turks and Caicos Islands as their destination.  Transparency and accountability are paramount in our operations, ensuring that our decisions are made lawfully and in the best interests of all residents and visitors.

The Turks & Caicos Islands welcome over one million visitors each year, more than half of whom are American.

Respect for the rule of law and an independent judiciary are key tenants of our justice system, and all persons are equal in the eyes of the law.  Judges are permitted to use their discretion in sentencing individuals who have been convicted of violating our Firearms law. In fact, in cases that occurred prior to the five cases that have generated media coverage, the mandatory 12-year minimum sentence has never been imposed by the Court because judges determined in each case that exceptional circumstances warranted shorter sentences.

Our justice system is designed to uphold the rights and freedoms of all individuals, regardless of their place of origin, while maintaining the security and integrity of our Islands.  Our judicial and law enforcement institutions are dedicated to impartiality and consistency in enforcing our laws.

Recent events have underscored the importance of adhering to the principles of justice and accountability.  Let me be clear: In the Turks and Caicos Islands, the law stands firm and applies to everyone equally, without exception.  Our commitment to the rule of law is unwavering and remains a cornerstone of our democratic values.

We are committed to providing a safe and enjoyable experience for all citizens, residents and visitors.

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EXCLUSIVE!  Police black CID Vehicle shot up by bandits in Five Cays

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Wilkie Arthur

Court Correspondent

 

#TurksandCaicos, May 15, 2024 – It was an uneasy night on Tuesday May 14 for some residents of Five Cays, Providenciales owing to continuous, serious fire power with gun shots blaring in various areas of the community.

Some say they heard shots in Granny Hill and reported a man walking around with a gun, randomly shooting at unidentifiable targets. Some say shots were heard behind the Enid Capron Primary School.  Some say they heard gun shot sounds coming from a residential area as well.

The most compelling accounts, however, were on reported events in another area called “The Wells”; a community in the depths of Five Cays and South Dock.

Criminals took on law enforcement in a gun battle involving the armored truck and a CID vehicle.

No members of the Royal TCI Police were hit.

Not the same for the other side.  One person was hit, a young man not known to police and it’s not clear if he was one of the men shooting at the police or an innocently caught in the crossfire.

The man was arrested as a possible suspect.  He is also in hospital with an “entrance and exit” gunshot wound.

During the shootout in The Wells, the CID vehicle was shot at repeatedly, disabling its movement as gunfire damaged the engine. Concerning to us, these shootings were at different times and locations but came in rapid succession; one right after the other, I was told.

Most described the sounds as coming “from some big guns.”

Police the morning after allowed me in to see up close.

Video, photos feature my EXCLUSIVE, close-up look at the damage done by criminals; it is clear high powered rifles were used by these suspects still at large.

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Charred Remains Found in Back Seat of Completely Burnt Vehicle

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Wilkie Arthur

Freelance Court Correspondent

 

#TurksandCaicos, May 21, 2024 – A gruesome discovery was made around midday today (Sunday, May 19th, 2024) when police and fire rescue teams responded to a call at a location on Blue Hills Back Road, off Millennium Highway. The area, situated next to the Fortis Sub-Station, is accessible via a long, secluded dirt road.

Upon arrival, authorities found a vehicle completely engulfed in flames. The vehicle was later removed by police after being alerted by an anonymous source to its burnt-out location. Local residents indicated that the fire had been ignited around 2-3 a.m. earlier that morning, but authorities were not notified until later in the day.

Residents could not provide details about the individual inside the vehicle or even discern its color due to the extensive damage caused by the fire. Videos of the discovery location are available, but footage of the vehicle itself will be provided once it has been located. The vehicle was reportedly still burning when police arrived at the scene.

Official Royal TCI Police Report:

Media Release – May 19th, 2024: Active Investigation Officers of the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force (RTCIPF) are currently on the scene of a vehicle fire in the Blue Hills, Providenciales area. Acting on received information, officers arrived at the location along North Side Close and discovered a burnt vehicle with what appeared to be a body inside.
The RTCIPF is conducting a thorough investigation to determine the circumstances of this incident. As this is an active investigation, more details will be provided to the public as they become available.

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