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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.

 

Caribbean News

Vessels sink with 900 barrels of fuel in Trinidad

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By Shanieka Smith

Staff Writer

 

#Trinidad, December 2, 2022 – The Ministry of Energy and Energy Resources in Trinidad reported on Wednesday that a ship carrying 900 barrels of diesel fuel had sunk in the Gulf of Paria. The six crew members on board were rescued and received medical assessment.

The statement revealed that the barge owned by Trinity Liftboat Services Limited was trying to demobilise Trinity Heritage Petroleum Company’s North Field when it capsized.

After receiving an SOS from a vessel in their North Field, Heritage sent out a response team. An investigation into the incident has started, however, the main focus is to redeem the barge without making any oil spills.

The owners of the sunken vessel said “there are no injuries recorded. (The vessel) now sits on the seafloor no longer posing a risk to any of Heritage Petroleum’s platforms or installations.” They said the captain made a good decision to abandon the ship so that the crew members could be rescued and transported back to base.

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Bahamas News

Digital coin created for Caribbean’s Dominica as island partners with Huobi

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By Shanieka Smith

Staff Writer

 

December 2, 2022 – The Commonwealth of Dominica has partnered with cryptocurrency exchange Huobi, to issue its own national cryptocurrencies, Dominica Coin (DMC), and Digital Identity Documents (DID), already reports indicate a surge for the Huobi token.

This new collaboration with Dominica will bring the Caribbean one step closer to being a global cryptocurrency exchange centre.  Huobi also announced its intention to move headquarters from Seychelles to the Caribbean.

It was explained, “The deal is noteworthy partly because of its connections to crypto billionaire Justin Sun, founder of the Tron blockchain where the Caribbean island’s new token will initially reside.”

Dominica Coin (DMC) and digital identity documents (DID) will be issued by Huobi Prime via the TRON network (a project dedicated to building the infrastructure for a truly decentralized Internet); both will serve as credentials for the future metaverse platform based in Dominica. DIDs can be used for cryptocurrency Know Your Customer verification, applying for loans, and opening bank accounts on the island.

The DMC is not yet ready for launch, but The HT token is up 15% over the last 24 hours to $7.12. It’s up 40% over the past seven days.

As one of the first Caribbean islands to adopt the citizenship-by-investment policy, the Dominican government is seeking to delve into the metaverse and Web3 technology as a means to boost the country’s development.

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Bahamas News

Imminent Worldwide Measles Threat; 25 Million CHILDREN miss First Dose

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

December 2, 2022 – Forty million children are at risk of Measles as what the World Health Organization is describing as an “imminent threat” takes shape. A joint report between the WHO and the U.S. Centres for Disease Control revealed that a record number of children missed their measles dose with 25 million children missing their first dose and 14.7 million children missing their second dose in 2021 alone.

Nine million cases of measles were recorded last year, twenty-two countries experienced large and disruptive outbreaks and 128,000 deaths occurred, the report says.

“The paradox of the pandemic is that while vaccines against COVID-19 were developed in record time and deployed in the largest vaccination campaign in history, routine immunization programmes were badly disrupted, and millions of kids missed out on life-saving vaccinations against deadly diseases like measles,” said Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

Measles is easily one of the most contagious viruses in the world and while many people think itchy spots when they think of the disease it can cause pneumonia, seizures and brain damage in about 30 percent of infected individuals.

Herd immunity will not work with this disease, say experts, unless 95 per cent of people or more are vaccinated; only 71 per cent of children in 2022 are fully vaccinated.

“Measles anywhere is a threat everywhere” the report said, emphasizing that no WHO region has achieved and sustained measles elimination.

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