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Penalties For Business Get Write-Off Says Deputy Premier

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#TurksandCaicos, April 4, 2022 – You should not expect for the names of the companies which will benefit from a debt forgiveness program by the PNP Administration to be published, instead E. Jay Saunders, Minister of Finance has discloses that penalties linked to precisely 4,334 business license fee renewals have been wiped clean.

It is a measure which passed, strongly supported, through the House of Assembly on March 28, 2022 and forgives $1.4 Million in penalty charges by the Ministry of Finance, Investment and Trade.

“As of now, the penalties are wiped clean, actually they’re nailed to the cross,” said Saunders, Deputy Premier who also addressed queries about whether the list of beneficiaries would be published.

A similar tax forgiveness for those in arrears on the hotel and tourism taxes in 2019 led to a publication of the 19 companies in receipt; the Deputy Premier said this program will be managed differently.

“Every company with an outstanding balance is benefitting, and unlike a few hotels on the HRTT (Hotel & Restaurant Tourism Tax) list, there are literally hundreds of companies on the business license list, which covers four years.  The list can be available to review, but it won’t be practical to do (publish) that.

The business license list is an offer of magnitude larger than the HRTT list, so it’s not as simple as saying the HRTT list was published so the other should be published also,” said the Deputy Premier in response to our queries.

When he addressed Parliament on the Business Licensing Fees and Penalties Amnesty Bill, 2022 he said, “As a bit of a background Mr. Speaker, speaking specifically to the area of business licenses, Total Arrears as at February 2022 for all Business licenses was $2,932,036.04.  Included in this figure are the penalties of $1,395,658.19, and this Bill today seeks to write that off.  The Total Penalties cover the four years 2018 to 2021,” said Saunders on March 28.

This measure, now instituted through the Business Licensing Department, was anticipated as the Government made an announcement prior to the Christmas holidays that a plan was being devised to help businesses hop the hurdle of mounting arrears at the Department.  Some were uncertain whether the promise would materialize, but now it is here and not only did it make penalties go away for the pandemic years, it went back to 2018 and 2019, where penalties amounted to $42,240.00 and $222,816.00 respectively.

“I included 2018 and 2019 because outstanding fees went back that far, and our Government wants to give businesses the best chance at being successful, so we wrote off all penalties.  Not some of the penalties, but all of them.”

In all, 4,334 accounts were impacted, though not necessarily that many companies as there are “many” businesses which appear in multiple years as not having paid license fees and the ensuing penalties.

In 2018, there were 96 companies which were unable to cover license fees and penalties.  Grand Turk had 10; Providenciales 81; South Caicos and Middle Caicos had two each; in Salt Cay there was one and for North Caicos there was no company listed as not having paid their business license.

In 2019, that number rocketed to 574 business which did not pay their business licenses.  Grand Turk had 68; Providenciales with 471; South Caicos had 11; Middle Caicos had seven; North Caicos registered 14 unpaid and three Salt Cay businesses made the non-payment list.

By the pandemic year, the list of companies which did not pay their business licenses grew nearly three-fold to 1,500 companies.  Grand Turk now had 206; Providenciales had 1,201; South Caicos registered 20 unpaid; North Caicos had 48; Middle Caicos had 15 and Salt Cay grew to 10.

Last year, saw the mushrooming trend continue and 2,164 companies fell short of paying their business licenses to the Department.  In the breakdown from Deputy Premier Saunders:  Grand Turk, 286; Providenciales 1,748; South Caicos, 24; North Caicos was now at 73; Middle Caicos was 18 and Salt Cay had 15 businesses unable to pay licenses and resultant penalty fees.

Business license costs will still have to be paid to the Business Licensing Department reiterated the minister, in some cases, a payment plan may be set up to support clearing the debt for the license to operate.

“Mr. Speaker, to qualify for the Business License Penalties Write-Off, businesses will have to bring current their license fees within three months; but Mr. Speaker, if there are businesses that are unable to do so, this caring Government of the people, will allow them the flexibility to pay up their outstanding license fee over time through payment plans with TCIG.

So with that Mr. Speaker, we nail approximately 1.4M in business license fee penalties to the cross on behalf of the TCI businesses.”

 

Bahamas News

Leslie Gibson, first Bahamian to land in Royal Caribbean’s Corporate Offices, looking for others to join the company he praises for diversity and inclusion

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Job fair to fill open positions at the cruise line’s Perfect Day at Coco Cay resulted in 62 offers

 

MIAMI, August 10, 2022 – When Leslie Gibson accepted a position on Royal Caribbean International’s Perfect Day at Coco Cay during the height of the COVID pandemic, he didn’t imagine the opportunity would lead him to his dream job.

“The craziest thing is that what I’m living now, I dreamt about,” said Gibson, who is now based in Miami. “I studied engineering, but I prayed for a job where I would be traveling and working outside of where I’m from. I love The Bahamas and I’m always ready to go back home, but I’ve always wanted to get more exposure, see the world and all it has to offer. And Royal has been able to provide me that.”

Gibson said he found his footing in human resources after friends and family saw his natural affinity for working with people and problem solving.

Gibson began his journey with Royal Caribbean as a human resources specialist on Coco Cay in June 2020, where he worked for 11 months before he was selected to move to corporate and take on a larger scale of recruiting for private island experiences around the world, a role that has expanded to include shipboard recruiting.

Gibson’s promotion reflects a corporate culture of promoting from within. Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, started as a purser onboard the company’s ships before rising through the ranks to head the cruise line that now has 26 ships and more than 77,000 employees.

In just two years, Gibson has helped to recruit more than 300 people to work in The Bahamas, along with another 100 for Labadee in Haiti and more than 1,000 to work on Royal Caribbean’s ships.

“I think that’s why I love being a recruiter, because of the fact that I’m able to help people find their dreams,” Gibson said. “Some people who don’t even know they’re good at certain things, I’m able to help them navigate through that by giving them the opportunity to work with us.”

Gibson recently traveled to Dominica and St. Vincent as part of Royal Caribbean’s recruiting efforts, and he was on the ground for the job fair in Nassau recently when Royal Caribbean made offers to dozens of people in the hopes of filling several different positions on Coco Cay.

The exercise was part of a larger regional hiring effort to attract more Bahamian and Caribbean talent for Royal Caribbean’s private destinations and its ships. Royal Caribbean’s Director of Talent Acquisition Cindy Williams, said the company is coming back “better than ever.”

“We have a strong employer brand, and we are committed to making our return to service better than ever by bringing new crew members to Royal Caribbean,” she said.

Gibson said the magnitude of the post-pandemic boom is evident in Coco Cay’s guest numbers.

“We went from seeing as little as 2,000 to 3,000 guests a day at Coco Cay to now up to 10,000 guests and two ships a day,” Gibson said. “So, that went from our head count being 350 to 450 employees to now almost 600 who are needed for a call day.”

Royal Caribbean President Michael Bayley earlier this year announced the company’s intention to hire more Bahamians.

Gibson said that goal is just a microcosm of the company itself, which maintains diversity and inclusion as key priorities.

“I have coworkers from all around the world,” he said.

Recalling Royal Caribbean’s swift response to Hurricane Dorian in 2019, Gibson said the company’s passion for its employees was a considerable factor in his decision to accept his first job with the cruise line.

“I chose Royal because of some of the things they have done,” he said. “When Hurricane Dorian hit those islands, Royal Caribbean were some of the first people on the ground. I wouldn’t even talk about the people who were employed by Royal Caribbean — they spent millions of dollars helping employees get back on their feet.”

And although Dorian made history as one of the most powerful Atlantic storms ever recorded, Royal Caribbean’s response — rushing in to provide food, water, shelter and medical supplies for those impacted — was not particularly unusual for the company.

“When I say this, I mean throughout any disaster,” Gibson said.

“In 2020, there was a typhoon in the Philippines,” he added. “We assisted so many of our team members with helping their families back home. And this happens all the time. Our company is always about putting its employees first.”

 

Photo Caption: Leslie Gibson, 30, is the first Bahamian to have landed in Royal Caribbean’s corporate offices, but pledges to be far from the last. At a job fair held recently in Nassau, Gibson and his team of recruiters sought to fill a wide range of openings at Perfect Day at Coco Cay, the cruise line’s private island destination in the Berry Islands.

Release: RCI / DPA Media

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Caribbean News

TCI Premier and Delegation visit NCI in Jamaica

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#Manchester, Jamaica, 14 August 2022 – The Honourable Charles Washington Misick, Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands, and his delegation have arrived at the Northern Caribbean University (NCU) in Central Jamaica.The Premier will give the address at the second commencement ceremony and will be conferred with an Honorary Doctor of Commerce Degree.  The Premier completed high school at West Indies College which is now NCU more than 50 years ago.  Premier Misick and his delegation are on a four day visit to Jamaica.The Office of the Premier and Public Policy will bring commencement live on its Facebook page at 2PM EST.The Premier’s delegation includes: First Lady, Mrs. Delthia Russell-Misick; Hon. Arlington Musgrove, Minister of Immigration and Border Services; Hon. Rachel Taylor, Minister of Education, Labour, Employment and Customer Service; Mr. Wesley Clerveaux, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Labour, Employment and Customer Service; Ms. Althea Been, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Immigration and Border Services; Mr. Miquel Swann, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Office of the Premier and Public Policy; Mr. Edwin Taylor, Commissioner of Labour; and Mr. Bentley Johnson Aide De Camp.

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Health

Cleveland Clinic Performs First-In-World Full Multi-Organ Transplant to Treat Rare Appendix Cancer

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#USA, August 13, 2022 – Cleveland Clinic has successfully performed a first-in-the-world full multi-organ transplant to treat a patient with a rare form of appendix cancer called pseudomyxoma peritonei (PMP). Upon completion of the lifesaving transplant surgery, the patient received five digestive organs: liver, stomach, pancreas, duodenum, and small intestine.

Anil Vaidya, M.D., Cleveland Clinic’s Intestinal Transplant Program co-director, led the seven-surgeon team that completed the pioneering operation on a 32-year-old man in September 2021.

“The patient had one of the more advanced cases of PMP I have seen,” said Dr. Vaidya. “While about 80% of patients with the condition can be treated with traditional therapies, what do you do with the 20% for whom the traditional therapy isn’t successful? In some cases, the answer may be a multi-organ transplant.”

During the 17-hour operation, surgeons removed the patient’s diseased organs. He then received the following deceased donor’s organs all together and at the same time: liver, stomach, pancreas and duodenum (pancreaticoduodenal complex), spleen, small intestine, and right colon. The donor spleen was initially transplanted to boost the immune protection of the newly transplanted organs and improve blood flow to the pancreas until fully transplanted. The donor right colon was initially transplanted to help protect the new intestine from infection and improve its ability to absorb nutrients.  Both the donor spleen and donor right colon were removed prior to the completion of the transplant after they successfully served to protect the other organs during the operation.

“As far as we know, it is the first time in the world that a full multi-organ transplant, including the liver and four other digestive organs, is performed to treat PMP,” said Dr. Vaidya.

Prior to joining Cleveland Clinic in 2020, Dr. Vaidya performed in England the world’s first modified multi-organ transplant (excluding the liver) to treat a patient with PMP who had exhausted all other management strategies.

PMP is a rare cancer that typically originates as a tumor in the appendix. When the slow-growing tumor ruptures, its jelly-like content spreads to other digestive organs, with additional tumors developing that impair gastrointestinal function. Malnutrition and life-threatening complications ultimately occur.

Following the diagnosis in 2019, the patient began a long odyssey of treatments. He was one of the 20% of patients with PMP for whom the traditional treatments were ineffective. Often, this population of patients is left with few to no treatment options.

The patient was referred to Cleveland Clinic in 2021 in the end stage of his disease. He was receiving hospice care at that time. The patient had stopped working and could no longer eat solid foods. He was receiving nutrients intravenously through total parenteral nutrition (TPN).

“We needed to perform an evaluation to determine if transplantation in his case was safe, feasible and could provide long-term benefits,” said Dr. Vaidya.

Dr. Vaidya completed a thorough assessment of the patient’s case and received approval from Cleveland Clinic’s Intestinal Transplant Selection Committee to proceed. The patient was placed on the national transplant waiting list in July 2021.

“The patient – who needed a liver and four other digestive organs – had started to deteriorate quite rapidly,” said Dr. Vaidya. “It was touch-and-go that he would make it.”

In September 2021, a donor was found, and less than 24 hours later, the patient was undergoing the groundbreaking

surgery. The first three hours were preparatory, in essence removing the diseased abdominal organs. Next, the donor organs were inserted into the abdominal cavity, all the necessary vascular connections were completed and a left-sided ileostomy was created to handle bodily waste and let the body recover from the surgery.

“The operation was well planned and went like clockwork,” said Dr. Vaidya. “The team members knew exactly what they were going to do, and the timing was perfect. It went really well.”

Following the transplant, the patient remained in the hospital for 51 days.  Soon after he was discharged, he returned because he was suffering from a case of graft-versus-host disease, a common occurrence following intestinal or bone marrow transplants where the donated organs’ immune cells recognize the recipient’s tissues as foreign and attack the recipient.

The patient underwent a procedure perfected and performed by Amy Lightner, M.D., colorectal surgeon and director of Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Regenerative Medicine and Surgery. Dr. Lightner administered three doses of mesenchymal stromal cell (MSC)-derived exosomes, a first ever, novel treatment in solid organ transplants — another first for a patient who received a full multi-organ transplant to treat PMP.

According to Dr. Vaidya, “The patient’s recovery was absolutely amazing. His symptoms abated within two hours of the first dose.”

Nine months post-transplant, the patient, now 33, can eat and digest solid foods again and has energy to do what he loves, including walking and biking outdoors.

“There is currently no evidence of cancer recurrence,” said Dr. Vaidya.

 

Photo Captions: 

Header: Masato Fujiki, MD, (center) and the Cleveland Clinic surgical team, led by Anil Vaidya, MD, performing the first-in-world multi-organ transplant to treat a rare type of appendix cancer. (Photo courtesy of Cleveland Clinic)

1st insert: Anil Vaidya, M.D.

2nd insert: From left: Anil Vaidya, M.D., Shannon Jarancik, physician assistant, Amy Lightner, M.D., Andy Voge, patient, Rachel Voge, Andy’s wife, and Anita Barnoski, transplant coordinator.

Release: Cleveland Clinic / DPA media

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