PDM Deputy Leader says PNP Gov’t in breach of Citizens’ Contract
By Dana Malcolm
#TurksandCaicos, January 23, 2023 – The PDM says the current PNP led government is missing the goals set out in the Citizens’ Contract by a long shot.
“As the PNP government approaches its 2-year mark next month, one question we all must ask ourselves is: Are our lives much better after those two years? My people – Have we felt any real change?
After reviewing the PNP Citizen’s Contract, the PNP Government has not completed 90% of what they committed to. We are in half quarter and a lot of pressing issues that could have been started or completed in the first two years have gone untouched.”
In an open letter PDM Deputy leader Robert Been said pressing issues that could have been started, instead quick fix stimulus packages were inserted but have not brought the life changing impacts the governing party had promised.
“Are our local citizens being paid fairly compared to work permit holders? Are they being considered first preference for management/executive level positions? We can all agree that the answer is no.
What we continue to hear from this government is “record breaking” this and that. But who are these record-breaking numbers really benefiting? The truth is this – Turks and Caicos is a brand that is currently selling itself, which has nothing to do with this government’s efforts and certainly they cannot take the credit for the deliberate steps taken during the pandemic to be able to bounce back as we have.”
Been also made recommendations, including: A three (3) year full wavier of stamp duties to Turks Islanders; acceleration in the process with E Governance to allow all citizens to enjoy smoother and shorter processing times and another financial institution to increase credit availability.
“My people don’t be blind-sided during next month’s 2-year address. The PNP’s “Citizens’ Contract” is currently in breach. We expect them to give a glowing report but look at the national issues that seem to continue and the financial position of our Turks Islanders, who in some cases, are left with no choice but to move aboard in hopes of a better way of life.”
There was also a demand upon the PNP Administration for a breakdown of the cost of illegal migrant repatriation is being demanded by the Opposition PDM party. Describing immigration as a top national issue “because of the arrival of many illegal vessels breaching our borders” Been said this:
“I call on this government to confirm the total paid from last year to present: the accommodation costs, the food costs, the security costs and the repatriation cost I am sure it is costing this country millions of dollars that can instead be invested in education and health care.”
Robert Been was adamant that a lack of infrastructure investment is also stagnation toward that goal of a better life within the TCI, “Page 19 of the Citizens’ Contract is about “Infrastructure”. I am prepared to go on record to say that the celebrated openings in this area have been PDM Projects (with more to come) and as I look around the Islands all I can count for them is a pink Gazebo next to the Iris Stubbs Primary School in South Caicos.
This government has not done any real upgrades to our health care system… have not modernized our government school system and the list goes on.”
Adding to his thoughts on immigration is a plan to reduce the outflow of Haitians and the burden on the Turks and Caicos.
“The strategy to remain silent on this issue, as they do with other important issues, must change. The Government must realise that it cannot ignore or wish an important issue away. Today we woke up to more sloop landings and with the gang crisis in Haiti, we must demand more from our Government in terms of a strategic plan for our protections.”
Millions to come from FSC
#TurksandCaicos, March 17, 2023 – Revenue from the Turks and Caicos’ Financial Services Sector will more than double in the next few years, if E Jay Saunders, Deputy Premier and Finance Minister gets his way. It ‘s one of the reasons the country is investing so much capital into getting off of the EU blacklist and becoming a secure trustworthy financial destination.
“The FSC’s revenues for 2020/21 was $10.5M— the figures for 2021/22, would be about similar,” he said. He further explained that $10.5 million from the FSC represented about 2.6 percent of the country’s 408.5-million-dollar revenue. Though it increased to $14 million in the 2021/22 financial year, finance is still a small fry compared to tourism or even stamp duties but that will change, says Saunders.
“My revenue goal for the Government by the year 2029 [or] the election after the next election – is $500M. By that time, I want the financial sector (FSC) revenues to represent at least 5% ($25M). So that’s my goal for the financial sector by 2029.”
This goal, should it be met, would increase the Government’s revenue by 100 million dollars, a significant increase in spending power for local upgrades and improvements for Turks and Caicos residents and visitors.
Saunders says it’s time for the TCI to diversify its sources of revenue to make sure that what happened in the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw residents out of a job for months, will not happen again. Tourism now makes up around 80 percent of the country’s GDP. The Minister of Finance wants to push that down to 60 or even 50 percent.
Debrief on Haiti Caribbean heads visit
#Haiti, March 17, 2023 – When a CARICOM delegation visited Haiti earlier this month, conspicuously absent was the Turks and Caicos Islands despite being one of the nations most directly affected by the multi-dimensional crisis there. There is no comment, as yet from the Premier, to say why this was the case.
Still, from the expedition, CARICOM heads of Government have informed that there will be lobbying in Africa for assistance in Haiti. They say they have decided that the best course of action for the Caribbean country is to bolster the Haitian National Police and act as intermediaries with Africa and the world. The decision follows a one day visit on February 27th, and a March 5th meeting chaired by the Bahamas.
CARICOM says during the trip delegates ‘met with a broad range of Haitian stakeholders to hear their views on the way forward to a Haitian-led solution’. With that in mind it has made a decision on how to proceed.
“The Heads of Government agreed to support the Haitian National Police in their efforts to address the security situation. The focus of the Community will be the provision of training for the HNP and the provision of humanitarian assistance to HNP and the wider Haitian society, taking into account the challenging humanitarian and security situation”
It’s not clear yet where and how this training will take place. Also distinctly absent from the report, no more mention of boots on the ground from other countries despite CARICOM Member States indicating they were ready and willing should it come to that.
In addition, recognizing ‘the common historical experiences and the strong African-Caribbean relationship’ CARICOM says,
“Heads of Government also agreed to seek support from African countries for Haiti. They also agreed to work with the Governments of Canada and the United States as well as the UNDP”
Magnetic Media has reached out to the Premier’s Office to get a full debrief of the February 27th visit (led by Jamaica; including The Bahamas and Trinidad and Tobago) to learn of Turks and Caicos’ posture following the critical sessions.
Women’s Health Connectivity and health a study for TCI’S benefit
#TurksandCaicos, March 17, 2023 – As the country moves toward new fiber optic connectivity, bridging the digital divide could be a game changer for healthcare and other family-friendly services in the TCI.
The power of universal digital connectivity across countries was one of the recurring themes when the United Nations in partnership with the Network of Afro Caribbean Women and the Diaspora recently explored how technology, innovation and education are being used to address women’s health issues.
The session aimed to highlight success stories and explore how those processes can be replicated to help women and girls globally including in The Turks and Caicos.
The UN explained that despite holding a 70 percent majority in healthcare jobs, women are poorly represented in leadership roles and subject to systemic gender inequalities that can make receiving healthcare challenging.
As delegates from Chile and Rwanda, who were also partners in the session, shared the upgrades to their countries’ systems that had significantly improved the level of care available to their women, digital connectivity was a deciding factor.
In Rwanda the health ministries have begun to use drones to deliver medicine, SMS messages to alert about health threats and a completely digitized health care that eliminates paper documents for pregnant women and makes records accessible to any doctor, immediately.
Rwandan delegate, Rose Rwabuhihi shared tips that countries should keep in mind when trying to implement new processes to benefit women and the wider community.
- Partnership and sustainability are key factors to successful programs. She urged governments not to give up on projects or allow their partners to give up on them halfway.
- Education campaigns to introduce residents to the technology: “We need to build skills and deepen the knowledge so they can use the innovations that have been put in place especially in rural areas.
Poor connectivity and technological issues have plagued the TCI for years especially in the islands outside of Providenciales. Government has substantially acknowledged this disparity in communications services and is investing in a new undersea cable to augment services in the Turks and Caicos.
The UNs perspectives can now ignite a fire for even more family friendly, digital services.
In fact,Senator Yasna Provoste Campillay, the Chilean Delegate explained how connectivity and videoconferencing had been used to reach the county’s women in the most rural of areas. Chile is a long country, its landmass spread lengthwise creating unique communication challenges. While healthcare in Chile is separated by length the Turks and Caicos islands are disconnected by the ocean and solutions that prove useful for the South American country could well be worth implementing locally.
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