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Budget deficit projected by Finance Minister Saunders; new spending to FortisTCI & TCI Police

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By Shanieka Smith

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, October 6, 2022 – In his presentation to Parliament, the Deputy Premier and Finance Minister announced a budget deficit which includes FortisTCI and the Royal TCI Police equally sharing $5 million aimed at paying consumers’ electricity bills and beating back deadly crime.

Deputy Premier and Finance Minister of the Turks and Caicos Islands Hon. E. Jay Saunders addressed the Second Supplementary Estimates Expenditure for the financial year 2022-2023 in his speech at the House of Assembly on Monday afternoon. Sanders presented these estimates per standing orders 32, sections 118 and 51 from the TCI constitution.

“Globally, 2022 has been challenging for everyone,” the Deputy Premier said as he started his speech.

He proceeded to discuss proposals from the second supplementary appropriations bill.

Saunders said the estimates propose a revision of the revenue upward by $1.45 million bringing it to a total of $404.2 million. Expenditure will also be increased by $18.4 million.

The governor explained that funding for these revisions will be taken from the country’s cash reserve, which will result in a budget deficit. Although deficit budgets for this financial year are being proposed, “we do plan to return to surplus budgets in the medium term if not before,” Sanders continued and reassured the citizens that this will not become a trend.

Saunders stated that sustainability ratios are still being met even in deficit, and the islands’ liquid cash reserve is currently at $240 million. This equates to 212 days, which suggests that the Turks and Caicos islands would survive for 212 days if no money was coming in.

“My goal as minister of finance is to extend that to 365 days,” said the Deputy Premier.

He said he believes that these proposed supplementary estimates will not only continue to address inflation in the islands but also provide some relief for the most vulnerable citizens. He mentioned that the surge in crime – addressed earlier by the Premier – is a major issue and the estimates will allow the government to respond “aggressively”.

Rebuilding better after hurricane Fiona is also a priority for the government as too much is being spent on repairs rather than building sustainably. The Deputy Premier said this would be addressed in his next budget speech and throughout the rest of the year.

The Deputy Premier continued by addressing a few of the initiatives to that government funds would be allocated. A sum of $2.5 million will subsidise a portion of FortisTCI bills for the billing period from September to December. Saunders explained that this would assist residential customers while the government aims to find long-term measures to cut electricity costs.

Another 2.5 million will be used to combat the crime surge by way of raising police subsidies, purchasing equipment and increasing staff. Saunders said one outcome is sure from this “it is our victory, not theirs” referring to criminals on the islands.

Other initiatives included a stimulus for residents, hurricane relief, tourism, professional development, and foster care and social welfare benefits.

Jay Saunders closed his speech by encouraging the citizens from Joshua 1:9, “I would like to encourage the good people of the Turks and Caicos islands… despite the trying times that our country is going through, to be strong, to not be frightened or dismayed for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Caribbean News

Vessels sink with 900 barrels of fuel in Trinidad

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By Shanieka Smith

Staff Writer

 

#Trinidad, December 2, 2022 – The Ministry of Energy and Energy Resources in Trinidad reported on Wednesday that a ship carrying 900 barrels of diesel fuel had sunk in the Gulf of Paria. The six crew members on board were rescued and received medical assessment.

The statement revealed that the barge owned by Trinity Liftboat Services Limited was trying to demobilise Trinity Heritage Petroleum Company’s North Field when it capsized.

After receiving an SOS from a vessel in their North Field, Heritage sent out a response team. An investigation into the incident has started, however, the main focus is to redeem the barge without making any oil spills.

The owners of the sunken vessel said “there are no injuries recorded. (The vessel) now sits on the seafloor no longer posing a risk to any of Heritage Petroleum’s platforms or installations.” They said the captain made a good decision to abandon the ship so that the crew members could be rescued and transported back to base.

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Bahamas News

Digital coin created for Caribbean’s Dominica as island partners with Huobi

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By Shanieka Smith

Staff Writer

 

December 2, 2022 – The Commonwealth of Dominica has partnered with cryptocurrency exchange Huobi, to issue its own national cryptocurrencies, Dominica Coin (DMC), and Digital Identity Documents (DID), already reports indicate a surge for the Huobi token.

This new collaboration with Dominica will bring the Caribbean one step closer to being a global cryptocurrency exchange centre.  Huobi also announced its intention to move headquarters from Seychelles to the Caribbean.

It was explained, “The deal is noteworthy partly because of its connections to crypto billionaire Justin Sun, founder of the Tron blockchain where the Caribbean island’s new token will initially reside.”

Dominica Coin (DMC) and digital identity documents (DID) will be issued by Huobi Prime via the TRON network (a project dedicated to building the infrastructure for a truly decentralized Internet); both will serve as credentials for the future metaverse platform based in Dominica. DIDs can be used for cryptocurrency Know Your Customer verification, applying for loans, and opening bank accounts on the island.

The DMC is not yet ready for launch, but The HT token is up 15% over the last 24 hours to $7.12. It’s up 40% over the past seven days.

As one of the first Caribbean islands to adopt the citizenship-by-investment policy, the Dominican government is seeking to delve into the metaverse and Web3 technology as a means to boost the country’s development.

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Bahamas News

Imminent Worldwide Measles Threat; 25 Million CHILDREN miss First Dose

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

December 2, 2022 – Forty million children are at risk of Measles as what the World Health Organization is describing as an “imminent threat” takes shape. A joint report between the WHO and the U.S. Centres for Disease Control revealed that a record number of children missed their measles dose with 25 million children missing their first dose and 14.7 million children missing their second dose in 2021 alone.

Nine million cases of measles were recorded last year, twenty-two countries experienced large and disruptive outbreaks and 128,000 deaths occurred, the report says.

“The paradox of the pandemic is that while vaccines against COVID-19 were developed in record time and deployed in the largest vaccination campaign in history, routine immunization programmes were badly disrupted, and millions of kids missed out on life-saving vaccinations against deadly diseases like measles,” said Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

Measles is easily one of the most contagious viruses in the world and while many people think itchy spots when they think of the disease it can cause pneumonia, seizures and brain damage in about 30 percent of infected individuals.

Herd immunity will not work with this disease, say experts, unless 95 per cent of people or more are vaccinated; only 71 per cent of children in 2022 are fully vaccinated.

“Measles anywhere is a threat everywhere” the report said, emphasizing that no WHO region has achieved and sustained measles elimination.

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