By Dana Malcolm
#TurksandCaicos, February 7, 2023 – Former Chief Minister Oswald Skippings has responded to the news that a group of PRC holders are bringing a class action lawsuit against the Immigration Department after being denied TCI citizen status.
In an open letter, Skippings who is himself a part of the Commission which makes the decisions about granting Turks and Caicos citizenship described what he called a ‘lack of appreciation’ by some expats for the multiple levels of status they are allowed to hold including Permanent Residency Certificates and Turks and Caicos passports.
The letter was in response to a story carried by the TCI Sun which revealed the lawsuit was brought because plaintiffs felt they were not given sufficient reasons behind why they were denied and the extensive waiting period which, for some, spanned years. The suit aims to
- Overturn the decision not to grant them status
- Quash the appointments of the commission members and;
- Mandate that a new commission reconsiders their application.
But weeks since news of the lawsuit broke, residents are now seeing the results of applications filed as far back as 2016. In affidavits to the lawsuit publicized by the TCI Sun, the appellants listed the incredibly long waiting time for some of them as one of the driving forces behind the legal action.
“After more than six years of considering the applications, no warning was given of the impending unfavourable decision, far less an opportunity to the applicants to address the commission’s concerns with the applications. That cannot be a procedurally fair way of conducting the Islander Status application process,” they said.
But the former chief minister disagrees. Oswald Skippings fiercely condemns the lawsuit in his own letter.
“Imagine the temerity and the effrontery to attack governments and citizens responsible for the issuance of Islander Status that would empower them not only to further erode our franchise, but to take it totally out of our hands so that we would not only be disempowered economically, socially and industrially, but we will no longer have the voting power to determine who our government is. In other words, not being able to determine who would represent our best interest in the House of Assembly and secure our destiny in our native land.” He said.
Skippings himself is mentioned by name in the affidavits attached to the lawsuit according to The Sun where the plaintiffs cite a newspaper article “expressing passionate views about those who he perceived as foreigners” and question his ability to be objective. Along with the former Chief Minister, committee chairman Benson Harvey is also mentioned for similar reasons.
Just 10 days after the news of the lawsuit broke the Government released an advisory that “formal responses for all Turks and Caicos Islander Status applicants for the years 2016 to 2021 are ready for collection.”
It took between three and seven years for some 50 status applications to receive a formal response; this is indicative of the snail’s-pace system that continues to endure under successive governments.
It’s not just status applications, police records, work permits and more; receiving documentation in The Turks and Caicos is a long and frustrating process that has allowed criminal enterprises to thrive due to under the table deals which fast track application processes, which arguably start out as honest pursuits. Faced with the sluggish pace of the public sector, which falls under the remit of the Governor’s Office, fake documents, elaborate scams, exploitation and fraud have not only flourished, but have forced government offices to completely shut down.
And the row about the pathway to citizenship and who are the guardians of the process erupts as the Turks and Caicos Islands struggles with indigenous population growth.
The government recently revealed that the Turks and Caicos population growth rate is woefully inadequate and at an unsustainable low; Arlington Musgrove, Minister of immigration and Border Security had said the Turks and Caicos Islander is fast approaching extinction.
Still, for Oswald Skippings and others who share his view, the decision to sue the Commission and the Department of Immigration by expats is seen as “arrogant” and he reminds in his letter, that the grant of citizenship is optional; a privilege and not a right.
“…did you notice the word ‘MAY and not SHALL’ when it refers to the granting of Islander Status? So be aware that you may qualify for consideration only, and not for any legal entitlement.”
REOPENING OF THE TURKS & CAICOS ISLANDS HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY
The First (1st) Sitting of the First (1st) Meeting of the Third (3rd) Session of the Twelfth (12th) Legislature of the House of Assembly of the Turks & Caicos Islands
The Opening Ceremony for the First (1st) Sitting of the First (1st) Meeting of the Third (3rd) Session of the Twelfth (12th) Legislature of the House of Assembly occurred on the 14th September at 10 o’clock in the forenoon with its usual pomp and fanfare.
During the proceedings, the Honourable Premier and Minister for Public Policy, Hon. C. Washington Misick, moved the motion that the House of Assembly be suspended to allow for the reading of the Speech from the Throne, presented by Her Excellency, the Governor Dileeni Daniel-Selvaratnam.
The Speech from the Throne, having highlighted some of the Government’s accomplishments since being elected to office on 19th February 2021, culminated with the proposed Legislative Agenda to be considered for the upcoming legislative year which included, but is not limited to:
Constitution (Amendment) Order;
Retiring Allowance (Amendment) Bill;
Community College (Amendment) Bill;
Gaming Control (Amendment) Bill;
Business Licensing (Amendment) Bill;
Real Estate Licensing Bill
Immigration Bill; and
Crown Land (Amendment) Bill
The Speech from the Throne took a long-term perspective and placed emphasis on fulfilling the objectives of the Vision 2040 document and the Government’s strategic plan to move the Turks and Caicos Islands towards developed country status within the next two decades by investing in projects and policies that will result in a more robust triple-bottom-line economy.
The Speech from the Throne also addressed short to medium term deliverables; highlighting that the Government has twelve (12) high-priority projects being progressed. It posited that the National Delivery Unit (NDU) is tasked with assisting project owners and implementers advance the Government’s priorities. The value added by this Unit is the facilitation with streamlining of project management processes to ensure the most efficient timelines and use of available resources – all for the ultimate benefit of the citizens of the Turks and Caicos Islands.
The day’s proceeding ended with a motion entitled: Write-Off of TC Invest/TOLCO Loan that was tabled by the Minister of Finance, the Honourable E. Jay Saunders. The motion which sought to write off $10.8 million in debt accumulated by scores of borrowers was passed. This write-off was a welcomed intervention by many Turks and Caicos Islanders, laden with debt obligations for over 11 years following the divestiture of the former TC Invest Agency. The write-off directly affects over 150 borrowers but is indirectly beneficial to many more.
For some, giving them a second lease on life, which, when property ownership is considered can be extended to inter-generationally.
Turks and Caicos Islands Government Reminds Residents in the Islands of North, Middle and South Caicos of the Availability of On-Island Customer Services
#TurksandCaicos, September 19, 2023 – The Customer Services Department, in the Ministry of Immigration and Border Services, herby reminds residents in the islands of North and Middle Caicos, and South Caicos of the availability of its services on those islands.
Persons in North and Middle Caicos applying for work permits, visas, residence permits, homeowners permits, birth certificates, marriage certificates and death certificates can submit applications at the Immigration Office in North Caicos and conveniently pay for such applications at the Government Treasury, both located at the Paul Higgs Complex, Bottle Creek, North Caicos.
Persons in South Caicos applying for work permits, visas, residence permits and homeowners permits can submit applications to the Immigration Office located in the new Government Complex near Regatta Village and at the District Commissioner’s Office for birth, marriage and death certificates. Services can be paid into the Government Treasury also located in South Caicos.
Unfortunately, applications for naturalisation and permanent residence certificates cannot be submitted on islands other than Grand Turk and Providenciales at this time.
Speaking on the availability of these services in the family islands, the Deputy Governor and Head of the Public Service, Her Excellency Anya Williams stated: “As a part of our efforts to improve service delivery across the Turks and Caicos Islands, additional recruitment and training has taken place on the islands of North, Middle and South Caicos in order to provide more on-island support to the population of those islands and to ease the burden of persons having to travel to Grand Turk or Providenciales to receive certain services.
The Ministry of Immigration and Border Services is heavily focused on the implementation of our new border management system. This system will give persons the ability to access services from anywhere in the Turks and Caicos Islands and around the world. More updates on this will be issued periodically through press releases and stakeholder engagement.
Meanwhile, our newly appointed Director of Business Transformation is currently performing an in-depth audit of systems and processes across government, to assist in mapping out plans to make necessary changes in government ministries and departments to improve service delivery.
The transformation of service delivery across government is a key objective for the public service in this and future financial years. We recognise where there are gaps and we are working diligently to improve the way we serve the public going forward.”
Hon. Arlington Musgrove, Minister of Immigration and Border Services with responsibility for the Customer Services Department and the elected representative for Electoral District 4: North and Middle Caicos, remarked: “As a government, we have a responsibility to bring our services to the people and to ensure that doing business with the public service is easy, convenient and efficient. There should be no barrier to services for residents who do not reside in the islands of Grand Turk and Providenciales.
The majority of these services have been available in the family islands for quite some time now, but we recently refreshed our training, processes and our engagement in these islands, to ensure that we are serving the people in the most efficient manner.
I am proud of my team’s efforts to improve these services and I am reminding the people of ED 4, as well as South Caicos, that they do not need to travel to Providenciales or Grand Turk just to submit applications or pay receipts, as they can do so conveniently on their home islands.”
The Customer Services Department continues to review all of its processes and procedures in all islands, to ensure that it is meeting its mandate to the public and invites you to participate in its customer satisfaction surveys which are undertaken quarterly.
Avi Adams appointed Director of Department of Tourism Regulation
#TurksandCaicos, September 19, 2023 – The Office of the Deputy Governor of the Turks and Caicos Islands is pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Avi Adams to the post of Director of the Department of Tourism Regulation (DTR) within the Ministry of Tourism, Agriculture, Fisheries, Heritage, Religious Affairs, and the Environment.
Mr. Adams is a native of Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos Islands, who graduated from the H.J. Robinson High School in 2000. His tertiary education includes a Bachelor of Arts in Accounting from Bernard M. Baruch College, CUNY, New York, NY, and a Master of Business Administration from Edinburgh University, Edinburg, SC. He also holds several certifications in accounting, finance, and human resources.
Mr. Adams has a proven track record of success in various roles, including ten years as an Accountant/Financial Analyst, ten years in Human Resources and 15 years of management experience. He has also worked in the hospitality industry for the past three years. His previous roles include several at Fortis TCI, including Supervisor of Accounts Payable, Superintendent of Supply Chain Management and the Manager for Human Resources. Mr. Adams also most recently served as the Human Resources Manager at the Shore Club Resort with the Hartling Group.
Commenting on his appointment, Mr. Adams stated:
“It is incredibly humbling to be chosen to lead the new Tourism Regulatory Department. Only with God have I come this far, and it will only be him that sustains me to continue pushing forward for the Turks and Caicos Islands Government.
I am thankful for everyone who has contributed to this new beginning. I am excited to take on this new challenge with the Ministry of Tourism to ensure that the Turks and Caicos Islands remain a premier tourist destination. I am confident that my skills and experience will positively impact our work.”
Deputy Governor and Head of the Public Service, Her Excellency Anya Williams, in extending congratulatory remarks to Mr. Adams, stated:
I am pleased to officially announce and congratulate Mr. Avi Adams on his appointment as Director of the Department of Tourism Regulation (DTR) within the Ministry of Tourism, Agriculture, Fisheries, Heritage, Religious Affairs, and the Environment.
The Department of Tourism Regulations (DTR) has been formally established under the Ministry of Tourism to absorb the functions of the Turks and Caicos Islands Tourist Board Quality Assurance Unit and TIDES Training Unit. The DTR’s mission is to develop and promote a regulatory environment conducive to a dynamic, competitive, and sustainable tourism sector in TCI.
As Director, Mr. Adams is tasked with the DTR’s oversight, coordination, and leadership, which will be responsible for regulating our leading industry. Mr. Adams will also play an integral part in legislative and policy reform that will help shape the success of our tourism product.
Mr. Adams comes to us from the private sector with a vast amount of administrative and leadership experience that will add invaluable support to efforts being made by the Ministry of Tourism, Agriculture, Fisheries, Heritage, Religious Affairs and the Environment.
This appointment is a pivotal step for the Turks and Caicos Islands as it moves into its new tourism management and regulatory structure.
Congratulations on your new appointment, Mr. Adams and welcome to the Turks and Caicos Islands Public Service!”
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