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Opposition Leader:  Dismantle of Tourist Board by Uncaring PNP Government



#TurksandCaicos, February 6, 2023 – Voters of all stripes in the Turks and Caicos Islands are now in fear of recession, inflation, crime, and rising costs, and they see a PNP government not doing anywhere near enough to help, and is doing everything to worsen the condition of most of our people. I call out the fact that what those folks say they are not going to do, they almost always do.

We are now seeing the discharge of the current Tourist Board; the staff is being laid off. Staff which they, the current PNP Government, said last year, during the 2022 Government Budget Debates and on other forums, was not going to happen.

The Hon. Premier and his Team claim that this is a “restructure”, of the Tourist Board, but we all know “demolition” when we see it.

It is now very alarming that an elected government, that won all but one electoral seat, could be so uncaring, and unsympathetic to their own people who put them in office, and that they can be so disrespectful and insensitive to such a cornerstone organization as the Tourist Board, which has been in existence since the early ’70s.

This current PNP Government, led by Premier Misick and his Cabinet Ministers, has demonstrated an apathetic and uncaring attitude towards our people, the workers of the Tourist Board as it relates to their current and future employment status. Additionally, they are saying that the staff was given the chance to apply to the DMO for employment, but we know how that always plays out; we have seen this play out many times before, where persons are asked to apply only to say that Turks & Caicos Islanders were interviewed, and with no intention of hiring them. As the government did with the Airport fireman, all the existing staff should simply be reassigned to the DMO.

I must remind the Hon. Premier and his team of elected officials that this is the same tourist Board that has been instrumental in seeing our Tourism numbers grow to the high levels that we are currently experiencing.

I must remind the Premier and His Ministers that this is the same tourist board that received the honor of being awarded Island Destination’s 2019 Ultimate Partner.

I must remind this PNP Administration that this is the same Tourist Board whose director won Caribbean Tourism Director of the Year, won by Pamela Ewing – During one of the most challenging years in Caribbean tourism history. And I remind them that it was said that “Director of Tourism, Pamela Ewing, expertly led the Turks and Caicos Islands to historic levels of performance – solidifying the destination as one of the Caribbean’s most desired countries, while keeping the safety of both visitors and locals at the forefront.”

I must remind this PNP Administration that this is the same Tourist Board and its staff that was instrumental in positioning the Turks & Caicos Islands to receive an impressive eight nominations and a winner of two awards – Caribbean’s Leading Beach Destination and Caribbean’s Most Romantic Destination, at The World Travel Awards, Caribbean & The Americas Gala Ceremony in Montego Bay, Jamaica on August 31, last year.

I am in full agreement with those who see this dismantling and shutdown of the Tourist Board by the current PNP Government as a wrong move for our country, our tourism industry, our local people and our employees of the Board. In particular, I align myself with the comments and commentary of the former Minister of Tourism, Hon. R. Higgs, and former management staff member Mrs. Pauline Saunders.

In my response to the Premier’s and his government’s Budget on May 4, 2022, in addressing the funding being allocated for the setting up of a Destination Management Organization, I stated that “Instead of spending these millions of dollars on developing this new body, we should have been spending it on product enhancement in all our Islands. Don’t just follow the trend. You have to figure out if something really makes sense, or if it is just what everyone else is doing. Is this the right move Mr. Speaker? I think not.

Mr. Speaker, what about the current staff of the Tourist Board, will they be guaranteed a place in the new DMO, or will they will be sent home? I have seen this movie before in person; Mr. Speaker when the Government’s secondary health care services were closed down and contracted out to InterHealth Canada- they told us the same thing that we would not lose our jobs but said that we all had to apply for the same position that we currently occupy. We were not presented with a job description, terms of reference, pay scales, or anything. Needless to say, many of us found ourselves unemployed at that time. This must not happen to the staff of the Tourist Board Mr. speaker. We have to protect our people, and ensure that they are not left out.”

I went on to say that “Mr. Speaker, we are spending millions of dollars on developing this DMO, and Closing the Tourist Board which is a proven champion, and one of the top award-winning Tourist Boards in the region, and we have seen how successful tourism has been in our country. Why not recruit additional specialized staff for Tourist Board? Why not increase their marketing and product development budget? Why not send off staff for more specialized training in the area of Tourism? Why not create specialized units within the Tourist Board such as a Destination Management Unit?”

I still believe that, what I said in the above caption from last year’s House of Assembly Budget Debates can still be done- strengthening and enhancing the current staff and the capabilities of the existing Tourist Board.

Honorable Premier, Madam Minister of Tourism, Cabinet Ministers, it is not too late to readjust your course and head in the right direction. Listen to the people who elected you 14-1. It must be heartbreaking for these employees to bear witness to the occurrence that a government overwhelmingly elected by the people is intentionally destroying their livelihoods in this manner. And it is heartbreaking for the country to see our awards winning, superstar, Tourist Board, and Staff being treated in such an uncaring and dismissive manner.

You did not listen to my voice last year during the budget debate, however, for our people’s and our country’s sake, listen to our people’s cries now, and do the right thing.

A PDM Government would not be dismantling the Tourist Board, but rather we would offer advanced and specialized training opportunities to existing staff, enhance performance, greater boost capabilities, strengthen and expand partnerships, and diversify the functioning and structure of the existing Tourist Board and its staff complement, in order for the Board to be fully capable of leading our Tourism Sector into the future.

By; Hon. Edwin A. Astwood


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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Caribbean News

Cayman makes striking policy change to include more blood donors



Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer


#CaymanIslands, September 29, 2023 – The Cayman Islands overturned a policy that banned blood donation from people who visited the island from or resided in countries where “mad cow disease” existed. This was revealed by Sabrina Turner, Health Minister in Parliament, as reported by CNW Network.

People who resided in Britain from 1980 to 2001 and those who had blood transfusions in the UK after 1980, can now donate blood.

Due to recent risk evaluation, and the current protocol for blood donors, many nations, CNW reports, have re-evaluated and adjusted similar guidelines regarding blood donation, as Cayman Islands has now done.

The now initial restrictions on blood donations for the country was called for and was important as at the time of implementation, “mad cow disease” or as it’s scientifically called, Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), was at-large affecting not just cows, but also people, who are able to contract “a version of BSE called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD),” the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says.

The likely reason for the Cayman Islands’ targeted population of those affiliated with living in the UK or getting blood transfusion in the UK, was because most of the people with vCJD lived in the UK, as highlighted by the FDA.

Also, as BBC says in a 2018 report, 1 in 2000 people in the UK is thought to be a carrier of the disease, even though some who are carriers don’t go on to develop symptoms.

However, the change in Cayman Islands’ policy does not mean the disease is no longer out there.

In fact the FDA said, “as of 2019, 232 people worldwide are known to have become sick with vCJD, and unfortunately, they all have died.  It is thought that they got the disease from eating food made from cows sick with BSE. Most of the people who have become sick with vCJD lived in the United Kingdom at some point in their lives. Only four lived in the U.S., and most likely, these four people became infected when they were living or traveling overseas.”

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Caribbean News

Bwa Kalé movement striking back against gangs, nearly 3,000 murdered



Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer 


#Haiti, September 29, 2023 – In eight months, nearly 3,000 Haitian people have been slaughtered in their home country due to the upsurge and uprising of gangs in the republic which is struggling to hold its democracy in check.

‘Bwa Kalé’, it’s a vigilante movement that has sprung up in Haiti, and the UN says it is driving up murders.

Born out of fear and distrust in the state according to the UN, the movement is a violent strike back against the gangs that are terrorizing residents.

A recent report following an expert visit detailed it.

“Certain groups have formed allegedly to protect their neighbourhoods from gangs.  In some instances, these groups have summarily executed people suspected of being gang members.  The Bwa Kalé movement demonstrates the population’s lack of trust in the State, especially in the police and the courts.  The expert has learned that some members of the police and the judiciary have been complicit with gangs.”

Despite the obvious fear among residents, the UN is warning them not to take justice into their own hands.  However, that is easier said than done as Haitians have demonstrated their feelings of abandonment by fleeing the island in mass numbers on illegal voyages and standing up to the gangs themselves.

In the same report, one said: “The State is absent, there are no police or other officials operating there.”

According to AP, a new report to the U.N. Security Council indicated that 2,728 intentional killings were recorded between October 2022 and June 2023, including 247 women, 58 boys, and 20 girls.  Bwa Kalé is blamed partially for the increase, as life in the country is described as unbearable.

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