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The government claims better communication is coming 

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By Dana Malcolm 

Staff Writer 

 

 

#TurksandCaicos, January 25, 2023 – As the country approaches the two-year mark of the PNP Government’s tenure, at least one hot-button issue is beginning to be addressed; the government’s culture of quiet on pressing issues.

“We are making progress in setting up the government’s communications director; we have some new hires and we will have additional people in place so we can continue to improve the quality and timeliness of the information we bring to you,” Premier Washington Misick said in a press conference on January 16th.

The PNP-led government has been fiercely criticised in the past especially, during the tumultuous year of 2022, for waiting weeks to comment on pressing issues in the country ranging from crime and citizen safety to inflation. It has been notoriously difficult to get statements and statistics from the government as well.

It’s a recurring issue which Misick says they are now actively trying to put an end to. A new Deputy Director of Communications in the person of Kimo Tynes​ has already been hired and the Premier’s office has begun regular releases of a bulletin available on their Facebook page.

“We made a commitment to come to you with our press statements at least once every fortnight, as we have tremendous life changes happenings in these islands.” he maintained.

Caribbean News

Deputy Premier Spot on, TCI TODAY Removed from EU Blacklist

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Deandrea Hamilton

Editor

#TurksandCaicosIslands – February 20, 2024Sixteen months after being added to the European Union’s Black List for non-cooperative tax jurisdictions, the Turks and Caicos Islands is now off that list.

“Today,the Council removed The Bahamas, Belize, Seychelles and Turks and Caicos Islands from the list of non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes.”

The release explicitly states that in the case of the Turks and Caicos and The Bahamas, “ever since October 2022, deficiencies in the enforcement of economic substance requirements had been identified in both of these jurisdictions by the OECD Forum of Harmful Tax Practices (FHTP).”

It was recommended for remedy to the deficiencies has now been “converted from hard to soft recommendations,” said the statement.

That pivot was fundamental in the de-listing of the two countries said the information from the Council.

“…which allowed the Code of Conduct Group to consider these jurisdictions with no or only a nominal corporate income tax.”

When Magnetic Media spoke to E. Jay Saunders, Turks and Caicos Deputy Premier and Finance Minister in March 2023 he had full confidence that it was only a matter of time before the TCI was given a more favourable position with the EU. 

“There is no question about it. I’m confident that by February 2024, we will be off the list– I’m completely confident and there are no lasting repercussions.”   

 It had been sub-par computer systems that landed the TCI on the list.  The Deputy Premier, at the time offered that the EU was being too dramatic and its language, disproportionate surrounding the issue. 

That black listing and gray listing is often viewed as a black eye in the financial services sector, therefore this announcement today is vindication for the TCI and a huge plus for the Fintech ambitions of the Misick-led government.

 Twelve others remain with the unsavory categorization including Caribbean neighbours: Trinidad and Tobago; US Virgin Islands; Anguilla and Antigua and Barbuda.

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Government

Repatriation and Security, how TCIG spent the money

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Dana Malcolm 

Staff Writer 

#TurksandCaicosIslands, February 14, 2024 – Repatriation and other exportation costs are 66 percent higher for the first three quarters of the 2023/24 financial year (April to December) than they were in the same period of the 2022/33 year. 

The Q3 Financial Report tabled in the House of Assembly on Tuesday, February 6 revealed the cost of recurrent expenditure items including Repatriation.

Around $4.08 million was spent to send irregular migrants back home between April and December 2023. The figure does not include the interceptions between January and March 2023, those would have been counted as a part of the previous financial year. Total costs will be revealed in April of 2024 when the current financial year ends. For Q3 alone (October to December) $1.264 million was spent on these costs, $532,000 more than was spent in Q3 of the previous financial year. 

The already large figure comes as no surprise to residents who have been dealing with recurring instances of migrants landing on their shores and running through their yards all year. 

Conversely, the government drastically underspent the cash budgeted for security expenses with only $579,000 used from $1.4 million for the October to December quarter. It was in line with the trend seen all year as, only $1.6 million of the budgeted $2.9 million was spent between April and December.

Other than salaries, Social Welfare was the highest cost factor for recurrent expenditure with $1.8 spent in Q3 alone and $5.9 million for all three quarters combined. 

As for non recurrent expenditure, the SIPT trial and land purchases cost the government the most amount of cash, $1.6 million in Q3 alone and $5 million over all three quarters. 

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Finance

TCI Budget spending down, increased profits

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Dana Malcolm 

Staff Writer 

#TurksandCaicosIslands, February 14, 2024 – The Turks and Caicos third Supplementary Appropriations Bill will reduce spending for the country by $1.07 million according to E. Jay Saunders, Deputy Premier and Finance Minister and included in the supplementary are provisions for land purchases and money for a mortgage cooperation. 

It comes as the Turks and Caicos records $350 million in profit for the first three quarters of the year. That information came along with the Supplementary, as Saunders tabled the third quarter results allowing residents to see the financial performance of the year so far. 

Both were tabled on Tuesday, February 6th during a sitting of the House of Assembly. Despite a deficit recorded in the Q4 of the 2022/23 financial year the economy was back in form by Q3 of the 2023/24 year with $94 million in revenue recorded, a six percent increase over estimates. 

“This performance is attributed to higher than expected: Import Duties, Customs Processing Fees, Stamp Duty on Land Transactions, and Hotel and Restaurant Taxes,” the Finance Minister revealed. 

Saunders was quick to assure that the historic budget, which was increased twice in previous Supplementary bills to a total of $443 million, would not pass the set targets and there was no increase in spending for this quarter. 

“There is no impact on the existing budget envelope through this supplementary budget. There will be no breach of the debt sustainability targets agreed upon by the Governments of the UK and the TCI,” he assured. 

Even though no money will be added there will be shuffling for new expenses. Saunders provided a short list of the changes. 

  • $9.5 million to acquire land and settle an ongoing claim against the government.
  • $7 million as seed funding for a Mortgage Corporation.
  • $300,000 to rollout e-Government projects for the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • $800,000 for miscellaneous adjustments for other Supplies, Materials and Equipment – Governor’s Office, Civil Servant Week and allocation to support the ongoing pay and regrading exercise and productivity audit. 

As for what was spent, it cost $82.2 million to run the country in the third quarter, $5 million less than expected. 

The Government under spent once more with an operating surplus of $12 million. 

In terms of tangible benefits for residents 19.6 million was spent on capital projects including the South Dock redevelopment and two 1 million gallon reverse osmosis tanks. 

Unfortunately the supplementary also saw cuts to the Capital Works portfolio by $7.7 million. 

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