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Pennies in Savings; Food, Fuel & Import Prices set to Soar

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By Deandrea Hamilton

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#TurksandCaicos, April 15, 2022 – TCI Government will have to accelerate its reassessment plans when it comes to the $15 million Food and Fuel Tax Break because currently the drop in Customs Processing Fee (CPF) is only giving consumers pennies, if anything, in savings on grocery items. The reason, a rocketing inflation rate.

Prices on goods around the world are escalating rapidly and making matters worse, shipping costs are also marked up; not good for the Turks and Caicos which is heavily dependent upon imports.

GROCERIES 

Since the start of April, shippers have been passing along the higher costs of doing business.  Staple food items are more expensive and scarce.  Magnetic Media observed empty shelves in several popular grocery stores in the Turks and Caicos; it was extremely concerning.

“It is still very difficult getting products in; we are trying,” explained a produce manager.

The current 2.5 per cent break on the CPF, is working but only to soften the blow on constantly rising levels of inflation; it means the government will have to go back to the drawing board.

Covid-19, shipping delays, lockdowns, quarantine orders, anti-vaccine protests, even the US stimulus to citizens which is financing extreme shopping are all blamed for the inflation; a perfect storm of events which has brought this pressure upon households now having to take on unbearable financial burdens and the Turks and Caicos is no exception.

The Russian-led war on the Ukraine has exacerbated the predicament.

We visited Sunny Foods store, with four grocery outlets in Provo and Grand Turk, where the decision has been to put the regular price and the reduced price on the same sticker.  With the CPF applied, shoppers are saving only between one and four cents on popular grocery items.

Graceway Supermarkets decided to apply the CPF tax break on everything at the start of April; the company which owns three grocery stores in Providenciales and one food store in Grand Turk, informed that changes on price tags will come later, the savings will reflect at the cash register for now.

Sam’s Club in Providenciales is dropping prices by three per cent across the board at the register.  Gus, the owner, is prepared to take a loss in order to simplify the process and attract shoppers.

P&K Spendless Supermarkets said their new stock will reflect the CPF discount, but no new stock is in store as yet.

Our news organization has been informed there has been no engagement by the Government with most of these food stores.

We are also told that every day, notices are coming from suppliers about increases in costs on the popular goods.  Meanwhile, the rising cost of living signals that it is time for workers to get a raise.

Government has been able to tap into the public purse to augment salaries and other public service payouts by $30 million this fiscal year.  The private sector has no such luxury.

National Insurance Board payments have increased since the start of April; another cost factor which is neutralizing the impact of the Government’s $500 Inflation Stimulus and the Food & Fuel Tax Break.

The recommendation from the grocers, when Magnetic Media quizzed them about a possible solution: ‘for a few months, as was done during the height of the Coronavirus Pandemic, drop the duty completely on bread basket items.

ELECTRICITY 

There will be no reprieve in electricity bills either; FortisTCI has delivered a three pronged message namely: the company’s efforts to become less fuel dependent; consumer advice encouraging energy conservation and the inescapable reality of surging oil prices which have now topped $100 per barrel.

The TCI’s electricity provider explained despite negotiations for better fuel rates, its supplier, Sun Oil has communicated that the Ukraine crisis will continue to drive up, oil prices.

“We have certainly been in discussions with our supplier and they do have inventory that is currently on hand, that does have the full Customs Processing Fee, CPF included already that has to be exhausted before that reduced Customs Processing Fee is then passed on to FortisTCI, which will flow through the customer bills,” said Aisha Laporte, VP of Finance at FortisTCI during an April 8 episode of Expressions radio show which is hosted by Robert Hall.  “…but from the projections that we have we are expected to the see the reduction in the customs processing fee by May.

But I also want to say Mr. Hall, while that 2.5 per cent customs processing fee will be reflected, we’re also seeing an even larger marginal increase on just the cost of fuel. So that will outweigh the reduction from the savings on the Customs Processing Fee.”

FUEL 

The report is equally as grim from TCI fuel suppliers.

McAllister Hanchell is Managing Director at Caicos Oil and he communicated early on, that fuel prices are fluctuating so rapidly, it was likely any small reduction would impact prices at the gas pumps.

Hanchell said oil prices are fluctuating, two to three per day in some cases.

This means though the government has come up with a tax break on the customs processing fee and the government’s fuel tax on gas sold at the pumps, it will have no bearing on the cost of the commodity on the open market, or the shipping fees which are also impacted by the pandemic and the conflict in the Ukraine.

Hanchell believes the 85 cents per gallon TCI Government collects on fuel, should be temporarily suspended.

SHIPPING 

SEACOR has conveyed three significant rate increases since the start of April.  On April 4th the shipping charges were raised due the surge in oil costs per barrel from around $80 to now over $100.  Last week, an inland surcharge was passed onto the company; a new fee for shippers out of South Florida related to ground handling and that has resulted in higher charges on imports.

South Florida will apply a 20 per cent inland surcharge for all north and southbound shipments from Miami Dade County, Broward County and Ft Lauderdale.

On April 10, this notice came to SeaCor’s local link, AlServices Ltd:  “Please note, effective Sunday, May 1, 2022, the below General Rate Increase (GRI) on the Ocean Freight charge will be applicable on all shipments to/from the United States and Turks & Caicos…”

The month of May is also when Cargo Express and Tropical Shipping will begin to charge more for its transport services.  From Carl Simmons, Director there was this response to our queries on the kind of cost adjustments were pending:

“Tropical Shipping/Cargo Express Services can confirm that since the war began in Ukraine there has been an increase in Fuel costs that has impacted the costs of Shipping and Trucking to the Turks and Caicos Islands and other parts of the Caribbean. These increases would obviously be passed onto the customers and will ultimately impact consumers.

As of May 1st, 2022, Cargo Express Services will increase Trucking for Containerized cargo by $50.00 to all its Turks and Caicos customers; mainly due to the rise in fuel costs and replacement parts.”

Government’s around the world are powerless to control the cost of goods, supply chain issues, and despite harsh sanctions Russia continues its deadly, militant incursion of the Ukraine – the only solution is a reduction in government imposed taxes, which Consumers say are happening far too slow and offering cuts which are way too meager.

Meanwhile, since their March 15 national press conference, the TCI Government has issued no statement on the rolling issue.

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TCIFA Referees selected to participate in FIFA RAP Course

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#TurksandCaicos, August 18, 2022 – It is always a massive boost when not only our players are given opportunities to develop, but also our Match Officials. The FIFA RAP (Referee Assistance Programme) presents referees with an opportunity to not solely refresh their understanding of the laws of the game, but also to improve with the ultimate objective of being appointed to the FIFA list of International Referees. This year, a FIFA RAP Course is set to take place in Nassau, Bahamas on August 25-28. From the TCIFA, three referees have been granted the chance to partake in the course; Watson Antoine, Anice Bernadin, and Leonard Suckrajh.

The course also serves to renominate existing FIFA Referees onto the list of International FIFA Referees for 2023. Last year, Anice Bernadin made it onto the list for International FIFA Referees for 2022 as an assistant referee, being given the chance to represent the Turks and Caicos Islands on the international stage.

The program is divided into two parts- theory of refereeing, as well as the practical elements. In order to qualify for this list, referees are required to pass the FIFA Fitness Test.

Patrice Senior, Head of Referees at the TCIFA, commented the following, “The role of the referee is key for the implementation of a football match, that is to interpret and enforce the laws of the game. Referees require positive learning environments with a framework that incorporates continuous development based on meaningful performance objectives – that allows successful promotion through the ranks from the grassroots level, up to the football league and beyond.

She continued by saying, “I am pleased to see the hard work and dedication of our referees in these Turks and Caicos Islands. I would like to congratulate those persons nominated by the TCIFA, Watson Antoine, Ancie Bernadine, and Leonard Suckrahj, and wish them all the best on their journey to the 2022-2023 FIFA International Referees list.”

Patrice also extended thanks to President Sonia Fulford and the TCIFA. She’s also shown gratitude towards the Bahamas Football Association for continuing to include the TCIFA.

Refereeing is a vitally important part of football. For our referees here in the Turks and Caicos to be given the chance to improve their knowledge and experience in an international setting is nothing less than magnificent.

 

Written by: Joshua Hall, Intern

For more information, please contact TCIFA Marketing and Communications Coordinator, Candia Ewing at 941-5532 or cewingtcifa@gmail.com

 

Address:

TCIFA National Academy

Venetian Road

Providenciales

Turks and Caicos Islands

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FortisTCI partners with Sam’s Club and Cargo Express/Tropical Shipping for Solar Energy 

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Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands (Thursday, August 18, 2022) – FortisTCI is pleased to announce that Cargo Express/Tropical Shipping and Sam’s Club have signed onto the Utility-Owned Renewable Energy (UORE) program.

FortisTCI has leased the 18,000 square foot roof space of Sam’s Club, a grocery wholesale business on Leeward Highway in Providenciales, to install a 312.8 kW solar photovoltaic system. Once commissioned, the system will produce renewable energy for the country’s electricity grid and avoid approximately 317 metric tons of carbon emissions annually.

FortisTCI has also leased the 13,000 square foot roof space of Cargo Express/Tropical Shipping’s building on South Dock Road in Providenciales to install a 200 kW solar photovoltaic system. The system is projected to avoid approximately 188 metric tons of carbon emissions annually once commissioned. Both systems will be installed by the end of 2022.

The UORE program, operated by FortisTCI, has been in place since 2015. The program now has 18 partnerships following the recent signees, which will increase the number of solar energy system installations across partner properties.

Customers undergo a pre-qualification process, and successful applicants receive incentives for leasing their roof space and the solar energy produced by the system. FortisTCI purchases, install, maintains, and owns the solar system at these properties at no cost to the customer.

Commenting on the partnership, Director of Cargo Express/Tropical Shipping, Carl Simmons stated: The Cargo Express brand is eager to partner with FortisTCI in advancing renewable energy initiatives in the TCI. This partnership allows us to protect the environment by generating electricity using solar energy, thereby reducing the use of fossil fuels. The installation of solar panels on Cargo Express’s 13,000 square foot roof will benefit our organizations and the wider community.”  

Owner and Manager of Sam’s Club, Gus Karagianis stated: “I am very fortunate to qualify for the UORE program operated by FortisTCI. I hope that more businesses that can qualify for the program, embrace the opportunity, and one rooftop at a time, we can all make a difference in creating a more sustainable energy future.”

President and CEO at FortisTCI Ruth Forbes stated: “We wish to commend our newest UORE customers for supporting the journey to a more sustainable energy future. Roof-mounted solar installations have allowed us to steadily increase our solar footprint year-over-year. Our studies have found that at least four acres of land are needed to produce 1MW of solar energy.

Therefore, we continue to maximize roof spaces through customer partnerships. We also continue to pursue regulatory reform to advance our clean energy plan, which includes investing in utility-scale solar projects. By December 2022, we expect to have at least 2.6 MW of solar energy installed on the grid.”

 

Photo Captions:

Header: (L-R) Vice President of Innovation, Technology and Strategic Planning at FortisTCI, Rachell Roullet,  President and CEO at FortisTCI, Ruth Forbes, Owner and Manager of Sam’s Club, Gus Karagianis, and Manager of Innovation and Resource Planning, TeAnn Thomas.

Insert: Rachell Roullet,  President and CEO at FortisTCI, Ruth Forbes, Director of Cargo Express -Tropical Shipping, Carl Simmons,  and Manager of Innovation and Resource Planning, TeAnn Thomas.

 

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TCI Beach Soccer National Team Players Train in Italy

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#TurksandCaicos, August 18, 2022 – In June of this year, Pisa Beach Soccer, located in Italy, presented an opportunity for two of our Beach Soccer National Players to train alongside their team. This opportunity was nothing short of astounding. Herby Magny and Makenson Cadet were the two fortunate players who were chosen to train with the Pisa Beach Soccer team. Pisa Beach Soccer is ranked at the top of the Italian Serie AON Beach Soccer League and in addition to that, they are the reigning champions from last season.

This entire experience would not have been possible for Herby or Makenson if it was not for the recommendation of Matteo Marucci, Head Coach of Pisa Beach Soccer as well as Head Coach of the Turks and Caicos Islands Men’s beach Soccer Team. Coach Marucci has a long-standing history within the sport of Beach Soccer, representing Italy in both the 2015 and 2017 Beach Soccer World Cups.

Both Herby and Makenson engaged in a series of intensive training sessions that took place over a ten-day span.  These were morning and evening sessions. The morning sessions were coached by Bruno Xavier, Captain of the Brazilian Men’s National Beach Soccer Team. Bruno is not a new face to the Beach Soccer World, he was awarded World’s Best Player in 2014 and was a part of the Dream Team from 2014 to 2018. In the morning the focal point was working on core, balance, agility, and strength. The evening sessions consisted of a training session with the Pisa Beach Soccer first team under the supervision of Coach Marucci.

When asked for a comment on what It was like to train with the team, Herby Magny had the following to say, “It was one of the best experiences in my soccer career. It has made me fall in love with the beautiful game of beach soccer even more. Training with the Pisa Beach Soccer Team was conducted at a different level than how I’m used to training. The level of intensity and professionalism stood out the most, as most of the players are key players for the Brazilian & Italian national teams.” He went on to add, “The first 2 sessions were difficult as the guys did not really know us and so they didn’t pass to us during the games, however by the third day onwards it was fantastic, as we proved ourselves. The guys welcomed us like their own teammates and involved us in every play.”

Fellow teammate, Makenson Cadet, had this take on his time spent in Italy, “The experience was needed. Italy is beautiful, the food was delicious and training in a professional environment was top notch.” He continued, “What really stood out to me is the passion they had for the game, it’s unbelievable some of the players still have to work full-time jobs because they are not getting paid enough, but they still showed up every day with the same strong mentality. Matteo is a really good coach and a good person as well.”

Without doubt, these training sessions challenged Herby and Mackenson for the better. Both players expressed an abundance of gratitude for the chance to take part in the training sessions. Experiences like these are crucial in the development of our players here at the TCIFA.

 

Written by: Joshua Hall, Intern

For more information, please contact TCIFA Marketing and Communications Coordinator, Candia Ewing at 941-5532 or cewingtcifa@gmail.com

 

Address:

TCIFA National Academy

Venetian Road

Providenciales

Turks and Caicos Islands

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