By Deandrea Hamilton
#TurksandCaicos, October 12, 2022 – The Turks and Caicos Islands Government is constitutionally commanded to maintain a cash reserves capable of covering 90-days of public sector expenditure. E Jay Saunders, the Ministry of Finance, Investment and Trade during House of Assembly debate last week revealed that the Government has surpassed mandated savings to have harvested a whopping, $240 million dollars cash, in the bank.
“I want to reiterate again that all the debt sustainability ratios agreed between the Turks & Caicos Government and the UK Govt. continue to be met, specifically: • liquid Cash Reserves now stand at $240M, which equates to 212 Days Cash; (What does that mean Mr. Speaker? That means that if the TCI economy shuts down today, and our government was unable to generate not even $1 dollar or revenue, we could pay all our bills for up to 212 days.”
These outstandingly healthy revenues will enable the Turks and Caicos Islands government to bank enough money to run for well over the 90-days.
“For reference Mr. Speaker, the UK government requires us to keep a minimum of 90 days’ worth of cash reserves, we’re at 212 days! And Mr. Speaker, my long-term goal is to increase this to 365 days. God forbid, if we ever go into another prolonged lock-down again, one thing is for certain, the TCI will not have to, as the saying goes, “beg, borrow, or steal” to pay its bills. That’s prudent financial management. And that’s your government, the people’s government, working on the people’s behalf,” said Saunders in his October 6 presentation in parliament.
Turks and Caicos debt is also impressively low; falling slightly to under half a million dollars.
“Mr. Speaker, Net Debt as a percentage of Core Revenue is negative (that’s a good thing), and the National Debt Service currently stands below 0.1% of Core Revenues – i.e. that means that it’s less than $400K.”
“Mr. Speaker, as I reported on Monday, government revenues have ticked upwards, and it is forecast to come in at $404.2M (including a Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility payout of $670k and grants and contributions of over $790k). This is an improvement of $1.45M.
I had visions that we could get to $400M in revenues by the end of our term in mid-2025, but God in his infinite wisdom saw fit to get us there sooner. Mr. Speaker, what we’re seeing today is summed up well in Psalms Chapter 107, verse 37, where it is stated that “They sowed fields and planted vineyards that yielded a fruitful harvest.”
Through this Supplementary Budget Mr. Speaker, our government is seeking to increase our projected Expenditure for this financial year by an additional $18.4M (4.5%), bringing it to a historic $420.3M,” said the Minister of Finance.
Turks and Caicos agreed to a budget deficit in order to facilitate several key budget augmentations including $3 million for the increased defence needed in the face of an out of control and deadly multi-national gang, turf war. The government has also approved $2.5 million to FortisTCI; a move touted to see residential electricity bills cut by hundreds of dollars.
“Mr. Speaker, our government has allocated $2.5M (let’s call it a “mini Stimi”) to subsidize the electricity Fuel Factor, where it is being capped at $0.20 during the September – December 2022 period. Mr. Speaker, As Fortis TCI bills went out last night, 5th of October 2022, this initiative by our good government is already saving our residents hundreds of dollars on their monthly electricity bills.”
The supplementary, which is the second pitch for extra funds in the current fiscal cycle, will include support to Hurricane Fiona victims and more resources for the still ongoing payouts in government stimuli programs.
“Mr. Speaker, the Office of the Premier is getting $2.7M to facilitate stimulus payments ($700K) to those persons who have not received the $500 stimulus payment nor the current $1,000 stimulus payment, and $2M to provide for Citizen Relief from those affected by Hurricane Fiona.”
Minister E. Jay Saunders opened his presentation with the appeal and explanation.
“Through this Supplementary Budget Mr. Speaker, our government is seeking to increase our projected Expenditure for this financial year by an additional $18.4M (4.5%), bringing it to a historic $420.3M.”
IMF approves US$105 million for Haiti
By Shanieka Smith
February 2, 2023 – A US$105 million grant has been approved by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to assist with Haiti’s balance of payments due to the global food crisis. The IMF noted that the recent spike in price inflation has impacted Haiti severely, especially because of the recent cholera outbreak.
“Haiti is facing a dire humanitarian crisis and was hit hard by the economic spillovers from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. These spillovers included record price inflation that worsened Haiti’s fragility and compounded the suffering of Haiti’s population already affected by a severe malnutrition,” IMF Deputy Managing Director, Antoinette Sayeh said.
Sayeh said the fund was approved under the Food Shock Window of the Rapid Credit Facility. She added that the most vulnerable will receive support through feeding programs, school fee waivers, and other budgetary resources. Sayeh advised that the emergency fund should be carefully monitored and tracked to ensure that it is used only for emergency response.
Internal expenditure audits are encouraged for all ministries that work closely with this emergency fund. Sayeh said a Staff – Monitored Program involving various macroeconomic and structural policies should be implemented on the island, which will help restore economic stability.
Grants for farmers
#TurksandCaicos, January 31, 2023 – Good Morning to my colleagues in government, I recognize……..and most importantly good morning to the farmers. It is my pleasure today to have you here at this award ceremony. For the very first time in Turks and Caicos, farmers are getting relief for hurricane damage.
This shows that the government is committed to ensuring that the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands have access to a constant and nutritious supply of food, reduce the food import bill and retain money in the local economy. Food Security is the foundation of all human needs. Given the threat to the global supply chain and growing inaccessibility to enough nutritious food, the Government is committed to supporting the farmers to produce local food, to supplement the food requirement of the country. My government’s priority is to provide an enabling environment, to facilitate local investment within the Agriculture Sector as outlined in the People’s Plan for Empowerment
In February last year (2022) my government launched the Agriculture Finance Support Programme (Agro-Grant Incentive). This Finance Support Program for farmers is the first program of this kind in the Turks and Caicos Islands and shows Government’s mandate is to invest heavily in local food production through providing financial support. My government has allocated US$250,000.00 in this first year to promote agriculture development. This Finance Program has 3 areas of support
- Improvement Programmes – to upgrade farms, Existing registered farmers who wish to perform farm upgrades can receive a maximum of $20,000
- New Farm Start Up/Young Entrepreneurs– For new or younger farmers between the ages of 18-25 years can receive a maximum of $15,000
- Disaster Relief – this is specifically in response to National Natural Disasters “Acts of Nature” inclusive of earthquake, hurricane and storms and other approved natural disasters. The value of this grant will be 10% of the assessed damages (up to a maximum of $20,000 USD
To date 12 farmers have received grants in the first 2 categories. Today we are here to give disaster relief to those registered farmers who would have suffered from losses due to the passage of hurricane Fiona in September last year.
Government knows that Farming is an expensive business, farmers livelihood depends on the investment they make on their farms. We live in a small island state that is vulnerable to natural disasters such as hurricane. These disasters can have devastating effects on farms, destroying years of productive work and effort farmers would have put in.
Government in recognizing the important contribution farmers make to Food security and the vulnerabilities they face has moved into action to provide much needed support towards the rebuilding of the farms. Today 15 registered will be receiving funds for disaster relief to assist with their rebuilding efforts. This monies I know will be used for the purposes granted.
I want to thank my Cabinet colleagues and Premier for supporting the continued efforts to grow the Agriculture Sector.
My department of Agriculture recognizes farming is dynamic and as such has lobbied Cabinet for continued support. I am pleased to say that in August last year through a Cabinet Paper, government had approved amending the Agriculture Policy to provide full exemption of import duties for farm vehicles registered farmers can now apply through the department for this support. At that meeting we also agreed for the Department of Agriculture to develop a comprehensive Agro-Incentive Program to support farming in the TCI.
Once again I would like to commend the farmers who are benefiting today for their hard work and dedication and look forward to serving you as your minister
TCI Cabinet Agrees to Funding for Farmers hit by Hurricane Fiona and more
By Dana Malcolm
#TurksandCaicos, January 24, 2023 – A new farmer information system as well as money for our farmers affected by Hurricane Fiona is on the way, this was one of the newest updates from the Cabinet.
The TCIG approved adjustments to the Agriculture Finance Support Programme (Agro-Grant Incentive) for the provision of compensation for registered farms; those which had incurred damages due to Hurricane Fiona last September.
Also approved were 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, a long-time complaint from residents in Grand Turk especially.
Additionally, two new public holidays are on the roster as the Cabinet approved a national break for the observance of the King’s Coronation on 8 May 2023 and 19 June 2023 to mark the King’s Birthday.
Also in the cabinet meeting, TCIG approved the use of existing funds to retrofit the Turks and Caicos Islands Community College.
Approval was granted for the gradual outsourcing of janitorial services for government buildings, including schools.
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