#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.”
CARPHA Remembers Former PAHO Director Emeritus – Dr. Carissa Etienne as a “Tireless Advocate for Regional Solidarity”
Port of Spain, Trinidad. 01 December, 2023: It is with profound sadness and shock that I extend my deepest condolences to the family and friends, people of Dominica, the Caribbean Community and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), on the untimely passing of PAHO Director Emeritus, Dr. Carissa Etienne.
Dr. Etienne’s contributions to public health in the Americas were not only significant, but also transformative. Her leadership and unwavering commitment to our Caribbean Community’s collective pursuit of healthier people, healthier spaces and a healthier Caribbean were a source of inspiration to many. Dr. Etienne was a tireless advocate for The Americas’ regional solidarity, for she knew that was the only way to address the glaring inequalities that exist here.
She was the Director at PAHO for most of the life of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), and under her leadership, CARPHA graduated from the PAHO Biennial Work Programme (BWP) arrangement to having framework agreements.
PAHO funded many of the programmes that are difficult to attract support, like the Caribbean Regulatory System (CRS) and the Medicines Quality Control and Surveillance Department (MQCSD), which are important services for the Region to ensure the quality of medicines. Under Dr. Etienne’s leadership, PAHO also funded non-communicable disease interventions, another area that does not attract large pots of funding, although the number one cause of deaths in the Caribbean region.
During the Pandemic, CARPHA worked with PAHO to fund the downpayments to give 12 Member States access to COVID-19 vaccines through COVAX to the tune of US$2.6 million.
Dr. Etienne will be remembered as a true Caribbean lady who worked with great dedication and focus throughout the horrible COVID-19 period and right up to her last working day at PAHO.
During this challenging time, we pray that God will give strength to Dr. Etienne’s family, friends, and colleagues. CARPHA cherishes the memories of her remarkable contributions to the well-being of individuals and communities throughout the Americas, but especially the Caribbean.
The CARPHA Executive Management and staff stand in solidarity with our Caribbean Community as we mourn the loss of a visionary leader.
Dr. Joy St. John
Executive Director, CARPHA
Energy & Utilities Commissioner says new legislation will help to stabilize energy costs in Turks & Caicos Islands
Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands – Thursday, 30th November 2023: The Energy and Utilities Department (EUD) of the Turks and Caicos Islands, today reminds the public that the comprehensive Renewable Energy Legislation is currently before the House of Assembly and that the Legislation not only addresses the existing challenges posed by fuel price volatility but also lays the foundation for a sustainable and resilient energy future for the TCI.
In a recent press release, FortisTCI cited global factors such as production cuts and increased demand for fuel, leading to a surge in market prices. The EUD acknowledging these challenges thanks our power supplier for its proactivity when it comes to informing consumers of any changes in the cost of electricity. Further, the Government of Turks and Caicos wants residents and guests to know that it is committed to taking proactive measures that will transform the energy landscape through robust Renewable Energy Legislation.
In that vein, Delano Arthur, the new Energy and Utilities Commissioner looks forward to working with FortisTCI in the upcoming days to find innovative and collaborative solutions to reduce the cost of Fuel and Energy in the Turks and Caicos Islands. This initiative aims to not only mitigate the impact of volatile fuel prices but also secures a sustainable, reliable and affordable energy future for all of us.
Key components of the Renewable Energy Legislation include:
- Integrated Resource Plans: A formal planning process to prioritise renewable energy in addressing evolving energy needs.
- Competitive Tendering Process: Government-run initiatives to promote healthy renewable energy competition, achieve low-cost energy, and meet Paris Agreement goals.
- Administrative and Regulatory Measures: Establishing clear processes and responsibilities for all players who are in the renewable energy market.
- Licensing and Safety Standards: Comprehensive licensing provisions to ensure accountability and safety standards for renewable energy systems.
- Net Billing Program: Allowing building owners to self-generate and sell surplus electricity back to the grid.
The Renewable Energy Legislation serves as a mitigation against volatile fuel prices. By transitioning to cleaner energy sources and fostering a diverse renewable energy infrastructure, these Islands aim to reduce dependency on fossil fuels. The competitive tendering process introduced in the legislation ensures the selection of the most cost-effective renewable energy solutions, contributing to energy affordability and stability.
As the Islands invest in renewable energy, the increased share of clean, locally produced electricity provides a stable alternative to fluctuating fuel prices. The Net Billing Programme further incentivises distributed energy generation, offering a predictable path for building owners to contribute to the grid and receive compensation, thus reducing reliance on traditional fuel sources.
For further information, please contact:
Delano R. Arthur
Energy and Utilities Department
Turks and Caicos Islands Government
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.”
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