Lower Inflation in US forecast; food prices still trending up
By Dana Malcolm
Driven by low gas prices US inflation is slowing according to a government report, the news comes days after a harrowing forecast from the World Bank heralding a possible global recession if the market experiences any volatility including higher inflation.
The Consumer Price Index in the country which measures change in prices paid by consumers for goods and services is down, pushing inflation to 6.4 percent after reaching a forty year high back in June 2022 at 9.1 percent.
In addition to gasoline, energy prices, airplane tickets, and used car prices also decreased but food prices increased for consumers in the North American country. The report exposed the massive spike in energy prices that plagued consumers in the country in 2022, a rise of 7.3 percent over 2021.
Those increases also affected the Turks and Caicos ramping up electricity bills.
US Inflation directly impacts prices of goods in the Turks and Caicos as the majority of our goods comes from the North American nation. Lower prices in the United States are particularly welcome in the Turks and Caicos.
Lowering inflation is the main goal of the US Federal Reserve which has a two percent target, this resulted in the Agency announcing aggressive interest rate hikes in 2022.
US economists are now predicting that lower inflation may put the brakes on any more aggressive rate hikes but no confirmation of that has come from the Fed.
UPDATED: March 30, 2023
Three Days to NIB Rate Increase for 2023
By Dana Malcolm
#TurksandCaicos, March 29, 2023 – On April 1st, the second round of increases on contributions at the National Insurance Board will kick in for the Turks and Caicos workforce. Announced last year, the increases were instituted to keep the NIB from running out of money by 2027 as it services a population that is living longer with contributions that had not been increased in 30 years.
As the Government’s new financial year begins, increases at NIB will mean a higher cost for doing business and a higher cost for running the Government.
The private sector is expected to pay contributions at a rate of 11 percent on your taxable income. The hike is up from last year’s 10 per cent; six percent of which is to be paid by the Employer and five percent is to be paid by the Employee. For wages of $2000, this will mean a $200 improvement in income per month to the NIB. As for the burn on residents’ pockets, based on a minimum wage of $1200 monthly salary, that’s at least $60 dollars a month and $720 per year.
Public sector rates will move to 10.15 percent up from 9.15 per cent with the worker paying 4.575 per cent and the Government paying 5.575 per cent; that’s $54 a month and $648 a year at minimum wage.
The NIB rate as of April 1, 2023, will jump to 9 percent for self-employed individuals; For self-employed individuals at minimum wage, that is $108 dollars a month or $1296 per year.
As taxable incomes increase so will the contribution.
The increases follow a 2019 Actuarial review, undertaken every three years, which unearthed that the NIB was facing a dismal future, possible collapse. Contribution rates were growing at a rate much slower than NIB expenses, which included beneficiary payouts. On that trajectory, the NIB’s earnings would be eclipsed by its income by 2027, forcing the worker protection plan to draw down on money saved for economic shocks like Covid-19.
Unsurprisingly, this was deemed untenable, and an immediate increase was recommended.
Despite this scramble to boost earnings, the NIB has simultaneously increased payouts. Payouts for pensions, funeral grants, maternity grants and more will all attract bigger sums.
These incremental increases on contributions and payouts were all consultant recommendations, informed statements from the Board.
Guyana Gov’t working to overhaul sexual offences act
#Guyana, March 13, 2023 – The Government of Guyana has hired a consultant to continue to make changes to the country’s 2010 sexual offences Act which is in dire need of reform, to reflect the evolving society, as well as to increase its effectiveness.
Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, SC, said the works are underway to facilitate the overhauling of the Act and the expansion of the legislation to cover areas that should fall under its ambit.
In this regard, the AG said the consultant will begin work shortly. “Fortunately we were able to get the very person who drafted the act some ten years ago to resume working on the act with a view of correcting whatever gaps we discovered in the legislation and whatever weaknesses there are.”
Meanwhile, in a further representation of the government’s zero-tolerance policy for domestic violence, the AG said the family violence bill intended to replace the country’s domestic violence legislation, is currently in its finalisation stage and will be made available to the public soon.
“Domestic violence, sexual abuse, and related matters continue to be a problem in our country, and we have to be aware of these issues and continuously work to address them,” he highlighted.
The Ministry of Human Services and Social Security has stated that the government will be overhauling the ‘Domestic Violence Act’ of 1996, with some 40 proposed amendments, aimed at addressing all forms of violence.
The proposed amendments include the expansion of the current Domestic Violence Act, which encompasses the definition of domestic violence. It also provides for updated penalties for breach of protection orders and the inclusion of batterer intervention programmes and counselling as remedies under the law.
Further, work has begun on an inquiry into an initiative that will study and examine the cases of femicide that have occurred in Guyana over the past five years.
Femicide is the killing of girls of women, particularly by men, on account of their gender. The word is also used to encompass the killing of women by their intimate partners and family members.
AG Nandlall explained that the issues have to be analysed from a sociological and scientific perspective, “… look at the trends and examine the possible causes and all the factors that may be relevant in order for us to detect root causes. When that study is completed, it will produce a report which we will then look at carefully and studiously to draw from it possible solutions.”
These are all projects that will be explored through an Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) loan, to advance the government’s legislative agenda.
CDB Solid Waste Study Experts in Country and Public Meeting Called
#TurksandCaicos, March 13, 2023 – Years after it was first approved and subsequently fumbled by various administrations, consultants from the Caribbean Development Bank are finally in the Turks and Caicos to carry out the CDB study, which aims to relieve locals of the solid waste woes that have plagued them for years.
Kyle Knowles, Wheeland MP and Chair of the Solid Waste Task Force shared the information with Magnetic Media last Wednesday.
“As of the end of February, the CDB consultants have been present to carry out the long-awaited consultation in Providenciales – importantly, the consultation takes into consideration all solid waste facilities throughout the country: North Caicos, Middle Caicos, and Salt Cay were all assessed as priority areas for the revamping of solid waste.”
He explained that since the study has already begun, the consultation would run for a span of 12 months. It will see back-and-forth visits to the TCI by experts, who will be collecting data and assisting the government with its technical skill set. Knowles explains that it will be the consultants’ responsibility to use this data to create a comprehensive plan on how to best collect, dispose of and manage solid waste countrywide.
“They will create the Bill design and come up with the initial concept needed in the Turks and Caicos— creating policy for the country [then] the government will come in on the back end and fund it.”
A meeting was on Friday called for the Communities immediately affected by the Providenciales Landfill in the Wheeland District; the invitation states: “We encourage all interested parties to attend the meeting and contribute to the discussion.”
Acknowledging the sheer size and the mountain of issues associated with the Providenciales dump which he says has been underserved and scandalized for years, and which lies in his constituency, Knowles said a short-term tender is being created that will encapsulate not just solid waste disposal but the actual management of that site. He hopes that it will create immediate improvement in some areas.
“We’re talking about a dump site that has been mismanaged 8 to 10 years and we are trying to fix it in a 2 to 3 year period— the smoke, the stench, the operations themselves and security issues, accessibility, those are the things that we look to have immediate impact on which should ultimately relieve some of the concerns of the public, while still working towards the goal of achieving transformational change.”
Knowles campaigned heavily on the issue, vowing that he would fix it.
Now, the Wheeland MP announces the Government is ready to tackle this vexing issue head-on; at least beginning the process of resolving this solid waste nightmare for all islands.
He said: “The gist of it is this, solid waste remains at the forefront of my Government’s agenda, and we are working towards eradicating this issue in the short term and long term. We are aware of the problems affecting the citizens of Wheeland, and are committed to bringing tangible change.”
The project reveal meeting will be held at Healing Waters Ministries on March 22 from 6:30-7:30pm.
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