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Opposition Leader response to press conference

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Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, September 2, 2022 – An out of touch government is how Opposition Leader Edwin Astwood is describing the current administration following last week’s press briefing.

The opposition leader slammed the government’s attempts at stemming inflation, saying they were having the opposite effect as prices continue to rise across all areas.

“I wanted to hear their plans to deal with the cost of living, food and fuel cost, power cost, jobs, illegal immigration, unemployment, and underemployment.” he said.  “Instead, our people only heard about how well the Premier and his ministers were received by the institutions they visited over the summer so far.”

The briefing, as advertised, dealt with a recent trip to Jamaica, during which a large delegation met with several Jamaican government agencies to form linkages and gather best practices.

Astwood called for more concrete plans to address the rising cost of living on the islands that would benefit more groups.

“I would like for the government to now consider giving direct monetary assistance to our pensioners, the unemployed, and those citizens who make under $3,000 per month. This could be an additional $500 or $1,000 to these vulnerable groups who are being hit the hardest by the very high cost of living facing our people.”

In addition, Astwood critiqued the Premiers position that he would not interfere between FortisTCI and residents who were having electricity issues, and listed ways he said the government had the authority to intervene.

  • A. Where the Current Electricity Ordinance allows for Alternative Energy production, the Government of the day should seek investment in the alternative energy sector.
  • I challenge this PNP government, that if they truly care for the people of this country, they will take the small sum of 10,000,000 from the huge surplus that we have to buy and distribute 1Kw solar panel system to all citizens who own a home, to help reduce the burden on our people.
  • With the claim of so much money in the Treasury, they should be financing and subsidizing local business start-ups in the alternative energy sector.
  • The Government should initiate meaningful talks with Fortis to prepare acceptable legislation to enable any savings from the production of alternative energy to be passed onto the Consumer.
  • Any taxes or import duties on fuel for the production of electricity should be removed and regulations should be in place to ensure that savings are passed onto the Consumer.

Astwood said more care and willingness was needed in the government to fix the issues being faced by the people of the Turks and Caicos islands.

Caribbean News

Barbados bestows Humanitarian Award on PAHO director Dr. Carissa Etienne 

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By Shanieka Smith

Staff Writer

 

#Barbados, November 25, 2022 – The newest recipient of Barbados’ Humanitarian Award is outgoing Pan American Health Organization Director, Dr Carissa Etienne.  The government of Barbados grants this award to frontline workers who were instrumental during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Upon receiving the award, Dr. Etienne expressed her gratitude for the recognition, noting, however, that she was more grateful for the opportunity to have served on the island. She also praised Prime Minister, Mia Mottley for her diligence in leading the country and regional involvement during the pandemic.

Humanitarian medals were also given to Frontline workers who risked their own safety to ensure the needs of the public were met. Those who held supporting roles on the frontline received humanitarian lapel pins, and those who made generous donations were given humanitarian plaques.

Dr. Etienne highlighted one major lesson from the pandemic, “we are only safe when the weakest among us is also safe”.

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Bahamas News

Bahamas and Turks & Caicos Immigration Ministers make appearance on TCI Radio Talk Show

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TheBahamas, November 25, 2022 – “We have a humanitarian concern of course but we can only absorb so much” was how Fred Mitchell, Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Public Service in The Bahamas addressed the issue of the UN constantly nudging Caribbean countries about the deportation of migrants and recommending that it not be done.

He was speaking Thursday November 24 with Cheryl and Zhavargo on First Edition which airs on RTC FM.

While acknowledging that the UN offices likely ‘have to do what they do’ Minister Mitchell  explained that the current irregular migrants trying to get into the Bahamas did not fit the bill of ‘refugees’ as defined by the UN.

“We have a treaty obligation that says that if people have a fear of persecution in their home country that we have an obligation to take them in as asylum seekers. The people who come through on these boats from the south of us are not asylum seekers. They are afraid of poverty and that’s a difficult issue but in a legal sense we’re not obligated to embrace people on that basis.”

He cited a study that had found, on any given day there were around 7,000 illegal migrants in The Bahamas trying to get to the US maintaining that his chain of islands had to take a stand on the issue.  The Foreign Affairs minister acknowledged that  TCI was in an identical situation, citing also the the cultural effects of irregular migration.

“There is a cleavage which has developed in our own society over this; people are very concerned that we could lose our identity if we do not get on top of it.”

Earlier this year Arlington “new sheriff in town” Musgrove, Minister of Immigration and Border Services in the Turks and Caicos had described statements calling on surrounding countries to do more to assist persons fleeing Haiti as “reckless and misguided.”

“Haiti has a population of 11.6 million people. How could any small developing state like the Turks and Caicos Islands assist that number of people or even the smallest fraction of them? We have a population of some 47,000 persons, and our health care, education and other social systems remain fragile and could never withstand an influx of refugees. This would be a risk to our very own livelihood,” he had said.

He was interviewed in the same show on Thursday prior to Mitchell and expressed a similar determination to crack down on illegal migration.

“I want to stress this. If we catch anyone harbouring illegals, it could be my mommy, she’s going up. We cannot tolerate this. We’re catching the sloops so my Haitian brothers and sisters should stress to them don’t waste your money we’re sending you back.”

Turks and Caicos, this year passed a law, doubling fines and prison times for individuals harbouring illegal migrants.

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Bahamas News

Former Bahamian Cabinet minister defends record amid ongoing police investigation

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By Shanieka Smith

Staff Writer

 

#TheBahamas, November 25, 2022 – Former Youth, Sports and Culture Minister, Lanisha Rolle is reportedly currently under investigation due to several allegations that came up during her tenure; she however knows nothing of this alleged criminal investigation.

After the minister resigned – unceremoniously –  in February 2021 with little explanation, the ministry was locked down by the Prime Minister for an audit of the National Sports Authority, which fell under her ministry.

Auditor General Terrance Bastin revealed that unauthorised contracts had been issued, some of which were later forwarded to the NSA for payment. Three cheques to contractors were also found, which were paid to individuals and then collected by a senior ministry official.

Despite the allegations, Rolle said she upheld cabinet standards and good governance during her tenure. She added that a minister is not always aware of “everything in a ministry at any given time.”

Rolle said she has not yet been approached by the RBPF regarding the audit findings.  Having served as a member of the Police Force for 11 years herself, Rolle told a crush of media on Wednesday (November 23) that she continues to trust that they will follow the legal process and in due time, the truth of her innocence will be revealed.

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