By Dana Malcolm
#TurksandCaicos, August 4, 2022 – Some TCI residents say they are concerned about the medical services being offered on island and gathered in what they call a “Lord help us” protest early last week.
The group gathered at the Providenciales morgue with black signs bemoaning the lack of an ICU and other medical services in country.
Some of the signs simply read “Help” in bold red letters. One of the protestors carried a wreath while others marched with a makeshift casket. The residents say they were tired of the lack of a proper ICU and being sent overseas for care.
The lack of an on island ICU means critical patients have to be flown overseas to receive care via the Treatment Abroad Program (TAP) of the National Health Insurance Plan. This is a process that includes finding and contacting a doctor/facility overseas to treat the individual, waiting for confirmation and transferring the patient via flight or medical ambulance all of which takes valuable time.
There have been slip-ups in the system before and the Government has created a tribunal to hear the complaints of those who believe they have not been treated properly. The National Insurance Board Appeals Tribunal became active on June 28th, 2022 and manages appeals about treatment abroad and other issues including reimbursements.
Health Minister Jamell Robinson had said once an overseas referral was confirmed by the Joint Referral Committee and a regional doctor has accepted the case the person would be free to leave to seek treatment unless they were dissatisfied. If they were, they would have 21 days to appeal. Contributors with older cases were encouraged by the Minister to file them with the NHIB so the newly set up tribunal could assess them.
“We’re giving a window for those older cases to be ‘grandfathered’ in.” Robinson had explained but everything else after that must stick to the 21-day rule.
The Turks and Caicos Hospitals also announced at the end of June that they are working towards getting an ICU on island but the process is an intricate one that cannot be rushed. A case study is in development for presentation to the TCI Govermment.
CEO of InterHealth Canada, Dr. Denise Braithwaite Tennant had explained that building a business case for an ICU is time consuming, because of the staffing complexity, functional programming, infrastructure complexity and many other areas that must be completed with care.
Despite the difficulty, TCI Hospitals said it is aggressively campaigning for the ICU and expects the government to have the completed business case by the end of 2022.
For this group of protestors, the news may be welcomed but they are letting their voices on the issue be heard. At this time, Turks and Caicos is investing tens of millions of dollars in the Treatment Abroad Program which is partly funded by contributors payments into the National Health Insurance and Government subvention of the shortfall.
PRESS STATEMENT: MINISTRY OF EDUCATION
#TurksandCaicos, January 27, 2023 – The Ministry responsible for Education confirms that a recent report of alleged sexual abuse was brought to the attention of authorities at a particular school. For the protection of the child, we will not divulge details of this matter. We do acknowledge that there were issues experienced which resulted in less than appropriate response to the incident.
The Ministry is continuing its investigation of the incident, in its totality and has since requested a comprehensive report on the response from all involved. Several meetings, visits and discussions were held. The key is to ensure that the minor involved is afforded additional counselling and care and that other students within the institution are also afforded the relevant support needed. The Student Support Services has been active in coordinating this response which is currently in operation.
As an immediate further action, the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) entities will convene and existing protocols will be reviewed and investigations conducted to determine the consistency of the response, exactly where the established protocols were not followed and the subsequent actions to be taken.
The Ministry of Education, Youth, Sports and Social Services considers its responsibility for the Safeguarding of children of utmost importance. In so doing, the Ministry of Education has instituted a number of measures over the years to ensure that allegations of abuse to children in schools are treated with urgency. The creation of the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) was created to ensure that teachers, leaders, Social Workers, and Police can respond to allegations with the child’s safety and protection as the core consideration. Child safeguarding remains the Ministry’s primary concern.
Turks & Caicos Islands Cabinet Report, Meeting held January 10
#TurksandCaicos, January 26, 2023 – His Excellency the Governor, Nigel Dakin, chaired the 1st meeting of Cabinet on Tuesday 10 January 2023 at the Premier’s Office on Providenciales.
All Members were present.
At this meeting Cabinet:
- Approved the Fiscal Strategic Policy Statement (FSPS) 2023-27 which includes the fiscal targets of the Government for the next four (4) years to be submitted to the UK Government before being submitted to the House of Assembly for approval. Members also agreed a wide range of associated steps going forwards.
- Approved an application for duty concessions on the importation of construction materials, furniture, fixtures and fittings from Grace Bay Club Ltd. to allow the resort to complete refurbishment work.
- Approved an extension and revision to the MOU between the TCI Government and TCI Finance Limited, which leads on the development and growth of Financial Services in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
- Approved adjustments to the Agriculture Finance Support Programme (Agro- Grant Incentive) for the provision of compensation for registered farms that incurred damages due to Hurricane Fiona in 2022. Members also supported the adoption of a “Farmer Information System”.
- Approved proposed measures to control the roaming of livestock in the country covering the registration of livestock farms, construction and maintenance of holding facilities, and the transport of livestock.
- Approved a proposed model and structure for the New Destination Management and Marketing Organisation and Tourism Regulatory Authority. Members also approved an implementation process, the composition of the appointed Board of Directors, staffing implications, and a financing model, including the establishment of Tourism Improvement Districts and the payment of fees by tourism entities.
- Approved amendments to the Schedule of the Ports Authority (Stevedorers, Fees, and Charges) Regulations 2008, introducing a variation of stevedoring tariffs. Members also agreed next steps.
- Noted the impact of the moratorium on the issuance of new visas to Hattian nationals originating out of Haiti and approved the implementation of a moratorium on the issuing of all visas to Haitian Nationals entering the Turks and Caicos Islands for six months with effect from 11 January 2023.
- Approved the granting of a licence to a named individual for the purpose of erecting a swim deck protruding from the Crown parcel 60400/366 into the adjoining sea and the payment of associated annual fees.
- Approved the renewal of a lease for the rental of office space for the Government’s Planning Department on Providenciales for a period of three years.
- Discussed the renewal of a lease for the rental of office space for the Government’s Gender Affairs and Social Development Departments on Grand Turk and agreed next steps.
- Approved the use of existing funds for the use of retrofitting the Turks and Caicos Islands Community College.
- Approved the gradual outsourcing of janitorial services for government buildings, including schools.
- Approved the observance of Public Holidays on 8 May 2023 to mark the King’s Coronation and on 19 June 2023 to mark the King’s Birthday.
- Was updated on issues related to the Ministries of:
- Education, and
- AG Chambers,
- Office of the Deputy Governor, and
- Office of the Governor
Further information on these matters will be provided by Ministers in due course.
JAMAICA: Multibillion-Dollar Shipyard Project Launched
#Kingston, Jamaica, January 23, 2023 – Economic opportunities are expected to abound for Jamaica, through the establishment of a multibillion-dollar ship repair and maintenance facility in the country.
Called the German Ship Repair Jamaica (GSRJ) Shipyard, the project will provide dry docking (lifting the ship out of the water) for commercial vessels up to 20,000 tons, and a range of maintenance and repair services to vessels operating in and around the Caribbean and Central America.
Phase one of the project, which is to be completed by October/November this year, is being undertaken at an overall cost of nearly $6 billion (or US$37 million), with financial partner Sagicor Bank committing to half of this amount as a bank loan. This will see the first floating dry dock, JAM-DOCK 1, becoming operational.
Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, who delivered the main address at Tuesday’s (January 24) launch at the Kingston Harbour along the Sir Florizel Glasspole Highway, said that “this project will earn foreign exchange”.
“It will provide high-quality jobs, and it will contribute greatly to the prosperity of our country,” he added.
Mr. Holness noted that the development will contribute to the positioning of Kingston Harbour as a global logistics hub, pointing out that each year, Jamaica receives approximately 3,000 port calls while approximately 180,000 vessels operate within the region.
“With the investments that are being made in improving Kingston as a logistic hub, we are certain that we have now closed one of the major gaps that have existed and that more ships passing through the region will be inclined to come to Jamaica,” he said.
For his part, GSRJ Limited Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Colonel Martin Rickman, said that the project “represents a new industry for Jamaica with great opportunities for other spin-off businesses, hence even contributing more to the economy”.
He pointed out that Jamaica’s “excellent geo-strategic location” makes the country particularly suitable for having a shipyard.
Detailing the specific operations of the facility, Colonel Rickman explained that “we here at GSRJ Shipyard will be able to lift that ship out of the water to conduct many types of work on the hull, the propeller, engine repairs and the entire nine yards, so this is significant for us”.
By international maritime law, all ships are required to be dry-docked to check for safety and integrity once every five years and attain class certification.
The CEO said that the training component of the project is crucial to enable workers to meet the international standards to carry out the required operations.
He informed that some persons have already been trained.
In his remarks, President and CEO of Sagicor Group, Christopher Zacca, said that as lead arranger, the organisation is “confident that this new development will make a significant impact on the country’s shipping industry while also contributing to our productive economy”.
“We want all Jamaicans to share the vision of the stakeholders; this is a big deal for Jamaica and we want Kingston to have the leading ship repair and servicing port in the Caribbean,” Mr. Zacca said.
The GSRJ’s partners include Harren and Partner Group, Germany; Kingston Holding, Jamaica; Kloska Group, Germany and HAT-SAN Shipyard, Turkey.
Government agencies involved in the project are the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ), the National Land Agency (NLA), National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), the Attorney General’s Department, and others.
Several private-sector entities are also involved in making the project a reality.
The GSRJ started business in Jamaica in 2016 with the intention to build a ship-repair facility at the Kingston Harbour to boost employment and introduce the country to viable economic activities in the shipping and maritime industry.
Contact: Mickella Anderson
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