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The Ayes Have it – Youth Parliament in TCI a Rivetting Row over Minimum Wage



By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer


#TurksandCaicos, December 7, 2022 – A raise in the minimum wage was the topic up for fierce debate in this year’s Turks and Caicos Youth Parliament; Young people from across the TCI sitting as various Cabinet Ministers represented the hypothetical interests of residents as both the Government and Opposition argued about the best course of action.

The motion was raised by  Lee-Anna Sutton, Minister of Education with responsibility for labour who proposed that the (hypothetical) $6.25 minimum wage be raised to $8.50.

“A raise in minimum wage is justified on moral social and economic grounds– it will provide an improved quality of life for all in the Turks and Caicos” she said referencing all the detrimental effects of poverty on the country including low birth rates and an increased likelihood that young people would be funnelled into crime.

Manville Gardiner, Opposition Leader questioned what percentage of islanders would be benefitting from the raise as many of the jobs in the category were held by expats.

Gardiner, who referred to his party as the ‘Government in waiting’ said the minimum wage was the wrong way to go and explained why.

“The motion says Islanders find it hard to make ends meet. I find it hard to believe that this government thinks that the minimum wage alone is what is standing in the way– our problem is not simply low resources but high costs. The government solution should not just be increasing resources but lowering costs.”

He suggested putting more TCI islanders in higher positions in local companies and increasing agricultural production.

Slamming the bill as thoughtfulness, he dismissed the proposal with: “it aint ready…”

“Our people have to eat secondhand important vegetables that can be grown in our own backyard” the opposition leader said, “The current minimum wage cannot keep up with inflation and that’s a fact– Who will benefit the most from an increase? Our local low income families.” was the response to the opposition’s points by Jatavia Howell, Minister of Tourism.

In a spirited argument, the minister pointed to another tourism heavy destination – Los Angeles – and the benefits of minimum wage increase there including lower turnover rates, less employee absenteeism and stronger staff retention.

On the other side of the aisle, describing the raise in minimum wage as a ‘quick fix’, Andy Missick, Opposition Appointed Member said the government would continue to fail at breaking the cycle of poverty if they employed these short term ideas.

“The raising of minimum wage might slightly reduce poverty but it also comes with many possible implications– we are looking for a long term solution” he maintained.

It was an engaging and feisty afternoon as several members of the governing party including Dixie Smith, Premier of the TCI threw their support behind the bill.

Youth Premier Smith referenced the lighthouse effect that had occurred in other countries in the Caribbean where a minimum wage increase resulted in  an overall increase in all wages.

“Let us be realists, low wages in the Turks and Caicos islands pushes households that are already at a threshold into poverty– why earn less when you could earn more.”

The debate continued with contributions from Shakiah Lewis, Minister of Home Affairs; and Adrian Parker, Governor’s Appointed member who were tightly regulated by Alex Taylor, Speaker of the House.

The motion passed 4-2  with one abstaining.

The speed with which ideas and quips were tossed across the floor broke even Madame Speaker’s facade as a laugh escaped once or twice. After the end of the debate, which attracted many supporters in the gallery, all of the young people were allowed to speak on the experience, some admitting cases of nerves rattled them but still pushing forward.

Madame Speaker used her position to encourage residents between 18 and 29 to join the country’s youth parliament “So that the youth will have a voice.”

All the young people were supported by family, friends and elected government members including Anya Williams, Governor (actg); Otis Morris, Minister of Home Affairs; Rachel Taylor, Minister of Education and Youth; E Jay Saunders, Deputy Premier and Akeirra Missick, Member for Leeward and Long Bay who is credited with being a mentor to the Youth Parliamentarians.


Register of Interests of the Members of the House of Assembly 



#TurksandCaicos, September 29, 2023 – The Integrity Commission advises that the Register of Interests for Members of the Turks and Caicos Islands House of Assembly, as at 31st December 2022 has been completed.

Members of the House of Assembly are required by the Turks and Caicos Islands Constitution, Section 103(2), and the Integrity Commission Ordinance (the Ordinance), as amended, Section 52(1), to file with the Commission, Statements of Registrable Interests.  The Commission would, therefore, like to inform members of the public that, it has compiled the information contained in these Statements of Registrable Interests and has produced The Register of Interests 2022 for the Members of the House of Assembly, as at 31st December 2022.

The Register of Interests 2022 is now available for public inspection at the following locations:

  1. House of Assembly in Grand Turk
  2. Office of the Premier – Grand Turk and Providenciales
  3. Office of the Integrity Commission – Grand Turk and Providenciales (during the hours of 8:30am to 4:30pm from Mondays to Thursdays and 8:00am to 4:00pm on Fridays.)
  4. Office of the District Commissioner – Middle Caicos, North Caicos, Salt Cay and South Caicos.

The Register can be viewed at these locations during normal working hours or at a time that is convenient for the respective offices.

For further information or any assistance please contact the Integrity Commission:

By telephone at:  946-1941(Grand Turk Office) or 941-7847 (Providenciales Office) By e-mail at: or

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Bahamas News

Grand Bahama to be CARGO HUB, as Bahamas & Qatar ink MOU 



Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer

#TheBahamas, September 29, 2023 – With moves to deepen ties, governments of The Bahamas and Qatar have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to solidify agreements in principle surrounding the development of aviation and other related services.

This is according to Chester Cooper, The Bahamas Deputy Prime Minister and Minister  of Tourism, Investment and Aviation in a Facebook post.

This comes after The Bahamas Government in a press release on September 24th, revealed that Cooper,  was set to meet with the head of Qatar Airways to have talks regarding “multiple mutually beneficial aviation opportunities for both countries.”

The release also said the deputy prime minister and the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Investment and Aviation are working on “forging strategic partnerships with several Middle Eastern countries to strengthen ties to The Bahamas and the Caribbean,” and this new signing is indicative of such efforts.

Following the September 25th signing, on September 27th, Kenneth Romer, Deputy Director General  of Tourism for The Bahamas informed via Facebook some details of the agreement saying, “we have now established a framework for cooperation and formed strategic partnerships with Qatar Airways, Qatar’s Transport, Aviation and Investment Agencies and The Qatar Aeronautical Academy, that will benefit our country.”

Regarding further efforts for the improvement of The Bahamas, Cooper announced on Facebook again on Tuesday September 26th that both countries are working  to make Nassau a passenger hub for Latin America and the Caribbean adding that talks are being held for Grand Bahama as a cargo hub.

Additionally, as the press release informed, Cooper is preparing for an on ground visit of Bahamasair domestic operations by Qatar Airways Technical team sometime in October.

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Caribbean News

Guyana to build regional food hub



Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer


#Guyana, September 29, 2023 – Guyana is making moves to become the primary food production center for the Caribbean, going ahead with plans to develop a USD$14 million regional food hub.

In fact, as reported by the Observer, the facility has already been identified on the country’s Soesdyke /Linden Highway.

Guyana seems to really want this to become a reality and Zulfikar Mustapha, Agriculture Minister, expressed this, highlighting what Guyana has over its Caribbean sister Islands.

“We want Guyana to be the food hub, the primary production hub of the Caribbean so that we could supply the Caribbean.  What we have, our colleagues in the Caribbean don’t have.  We have arable flat land and abundant fresh water,” he said, adding that with the multi-million dollar US investment, the country can, “modernise the infrastructure, and start ramping up the productions.”

Also, the Agriculture Minister pointed out that the project is geared to make for a more competitive local Agriculture industry as well as developing high-yielding varieties, pest-resistant and climate-resilient varieties.

Additionally, in the facility’s development, Guyana, Mustapha said, will work with Belize.

In fact, with more on Belize’s involvement, Dr. Ashni Singh,  Finance Minister, informed that the Government is in talks with the Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley about sourcing inputs from northern Brazil and transporting them through Guyana to Barbados and vice versa.

Singh also reportedly revealed that the project will help develop the growing logistics industry in Guyana.

Considering regional food import cost, with this development, Guyana is the leading Caribbean Community country pushing ahead with plans to reduce the multi-billion dollar regional food import bill by 25 per cent by 2025, the Observer says.

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