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TCIG Comes Through!  Duty Free & Duty Exemption Extended beyond Nov 30

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By Deandrea Hamilton & Dana Malcolm

Editorial Staff

 

#TurksandCaicos, December 1, 2022 – Turks and Caicos Islanders can breathe a sigh of relief after confirmation came  from Deputy Premier E Jay Saunders late Wednesday following a full day of Cabinet meeting; the Price Inflation  Stimulus, which provides tax exemptions on bread basket items will in fact be extended.

“It was extended in Cabinet today.  We just left Cabinet.  It was a very long day,” shared the finance minister in response to our queries late on deadline day November 30, who added that the Government is committed to staving off the harshness of the inflation crisis.  “We’re here for the people,” said Saunders.

The decision was not a complete surprise as Arlington Musgrove, Minister of Immigration and Border Services which includes the Department of Customs  had given soft confirmation to our news organisation much earlier in the day.  He said the special tax break, instituted during summer, would not expire on November 30.

“Yes, it will continue,” said Musgrove as he confirmed the continuation would be on the Price Inflation Stimulus which includes duty free bread basket items.

For many, it is what they had desperately hoped for, as prices stubbornly continued to rise over the last three months offering no relief.  The possibility of losing the tax exemptions on items like cereal breads and cleaning supplies would have been a hard blow, especially as the holidays are here.

Shopping abroad is also popular at this time of year; offsetting the costliness of the Christmas holidays.  If the Prince Inflation Stimulus holds true to the original design, residents of Turks and Caicos will still be able to benefit from a duty exemption concession when they return with goods bought out of the country.

Initiated in August, the Price Inflation Stimulus was passed into law after public outcry about the high prices at the supermarket checkout earlier this year and while there were some snags in getting the process started, for the most part it has helped to lower residents’ grocery bills. It had been slated to expire on Wednesday November 30th.

The Government had repeatedly hinted that an extension was possible.

On November 21st the Premier spoke at a town hall meeting in Providenciales indicating that the government was looking at lengthening one of the current tax exemptions but then he could have meant any one of them. There are currently three in effect.

One cutting government taxes on fuel at the pump and food at the border.  Another capping the fuel factor rate on electricity bills which has meant hundreds of dollars in savings and this one, which eliminates the duty on 24 bread basket items and gives duty exemption on goods purchased abroad by returning residents.

“I don’t want to preempt the decision of cabinet but I believe it’s fair to expect that to the extent that the prices continue to rise and until we are able to do something with the living wage we will be making every effort to assist consumers by holding down prices to those basic goods,” said Premier Misick, who also went on to share the subsidising of electricity bills could also be extended beyond December 31, 2022.

His words have now proven true, at least in the case of the Food & Fuel Tax Break and the Price Inflation Stimulus, it seems.  Combined, the pair of intervention measures to ‘cushion the blow of record high inflation’ is a tax write off of $31 million.

It is now expected that a more official announcement will come to confirm what Government is giving, what it will cost the public purse and how long it will last.

Caribbean News

Grants for farmers

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#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

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Finance

TCI Cabinet Agrees to Funding for Farmers hit by Hurricane Fiona and more

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

 

#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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Finance

NIB Pensions are late but will be paid 

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By Dana Malcolm 

Staff Writer 

 

 

#TurksandCaicos, January 23, 2023 – National Insurance Board Pensioners in the Turks and Caicos who were worried about missing their payments this month will be able to rest easy.  While they were slowed down because of the new increase, the cheques will come and will be even bigger than usual.

“Pension Payday just for this month will be slightly delayed because we have to go and make changes to our systems so that we can pay at the new levels and our IT team is working toward that end,” said Rhesa Cartwright, National Insurance Board CEO.

The new distribution date for pension monies is Wednesday January 25.

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