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Anya Williams, MBE sworn in as Interim Governor of Turks & Caicos  

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By Dana Malcolm  

Staff Writer

 

 

#TurksandCaicos, March 31, 2023 – As the country hovers between British appointed governors, the reins are now in the capable hands of Anya Williams; she has been sworn in as the interim Governor much to the delight of her family and well-wishers.  

Williams was sworn in on March 29 at St Monica’s Anglican by her predecessor, former Governor Nigel Dakin, to a resounding round of applause from residents and country leaders.

Williams had an audience this time as she stepped into the role of head of state, but it is a position she has held time and again during her 10 and a half years as Deputy Governor. In fact, she has spent 885 days of that time as Acting Governor when British Governors were out of the country, she told the gathered guests.  

Taken together, they give her more than two years of service as an Acting Governor, a tenure equal to and in some cases outstripping the tenure of the four Governors she has served under Dakin himself.  

Citing her family as her strength, Williams, who is only the second Deputy Governor in TCI history and daughter of Pastors Dennis and Deborah Swann said, “Leadership is not easy. It requires a lot of support both on a professional and a personal level and so today, I last but most importantly must express my profound thanks.”

She took the time out to acknowledge her husband, Darren; children, parents, siblings, aunts, and extended family. Tearfully, Her Excellency Williams remembered her younger brother Brandon, who passed away after a car accident in October 2021. 

Williams has been retained as Deputy Governor for over a decade now, a vote of confidence from the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office, which oversees the process. 

It is this same office which in 2018, under then Governor Dr. John Freeman, recommended Williams, who is also a former permanent secretary in the Ministry of Finance, for the Queen’s Birthday Honours granting her an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) and affording her a meeting with the Royal Family, due to her bestowal. 

At the time, Freeman said: “This is richly deserved and as the citation states, has been made in recognition of her services to the Turks and Caicos Islands. Those services are notable.  The Deputy Governor continues to exhibit exemplary dedication to her duties, demonstrating the strong leadership that she displayed following the passage of both Hurricanes Irma and Maria which was commended by myself, the UK military, and NGOs present.” 

Many islanders agree with this characterisation of the Grand Turk native and in their reasoning have said Williams is well equipped now to not merely act in the role of governor for these islands and cays over short periods, but to possess the job outright.  

Turks and Caicos will welcome its first female governor in a few months.  Until then, Anya Williams will steer the ship from the Office of the Governor until June 29, when Dileeni Daniel Selvaratnam will take up her new post in the TCI. 

Bahamas News

Prime Minister Davis: Cannabis Reform Compendium 2024 ‘a long time coming’

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NASSAU, The Bahamas – Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis said on July 15, 2024, that he spoke in support of the compendium of Bills to legalise the use of cannabis for medical and religious purposes, to decriminalise the possession of small amounts of cannabis, and to “regulate the cultivation, sale and use of cannabis and related products within our borders and to promote the health and safety of our people.”

“This has been a long time coming,” Prime Minister Davis said, during his Contribution to the Cannabis Reform Compendium 2024 Debate in the House of Assembly.

“For years, Bahamians have called for an administration to have the courage to step up and take this issue on in a decisive and responsible manner,” he added.  “While many other countries, including nations within our region like Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Antigua & Barbuda and Barbados, have taken steps toward decriminalisation and legalisation for medical use, Bahamians were left wondering when it would be our turn to modernise our local approach to cannabis.”

Prime Minister Davis noted that the national dialogue had been ongoing for the better part of a decade.

“Many people thought change was imminent when the Marijuana Commission began its work in October 2018, under the previous administration,” he said.  “These efforts culminated in a preliminary report delivered in January 2020 and a final report delivered in August 2021.”

He added:  “The Commission cited a wide range of in-person discussions and public opinion research, noting that there appeared to be widespread public support for the legalisation of cannabis for medical purposes.  There was also healthy support for decriminalisation and an appetite for a strong regulatory and enforcement framework to ensure high standards for this new industry.”

Prime Minister Davis pointed out that the recommendations of the Commission called for legalisation for medical use, decriminalisation for small amounts, legalisation for use as a religious sacrament for members of the Rastafarian community, as well as strict regulations to ensure the quality and safety of the local cannabis product.

“In the PLP’s Blueprint for Change, we committed to developing a comprehensive regulatory framework for growing, harvesting, and exporting cannabis to create opportunities for Bahamians,” he said.

“The approach we developed to legislating and regulating Cannabis was informed by widespread research and consultation,” Prime Minister Davis added.  “It was partially based on the CARICOM Regional Commission on Marijuana’s research and findings, as well as the approaches of other jurisdictions like Jamaica, Barbados, and Canada, where Cannabis has been legalised and regulated.”

He said that his Government’s goal was to ensure that it developed the most fair, balanced, and effective legislative and regulatory mechanisms, which would allow The Bahamas to reap economic and health benefits while promoting law and order and keeping its people safe through the introduction of stringent standards.

Prime Minister Davis added:  “Once we felt that we had an adequate draft, we released the draft bills publicly, and we held a number of stakeholder consultation sessions, led by the Attorney General’s Office, in which we sat down with major stakeholder groups like healthcare providers, leaders of our church community, advocates for legalisation, leaders of the Rastafarian community – some of whom I see here today, as well as those who had concerns about the impact of legalisation and decriminalisation on the proliferation of usage. These varied opinions were taken into account and adjustments were made to achieve the most practical and effective approach that would work best for the Bahamian people.”

He pointed out that his Government also paid close attention to ongoing research on the issue – the most recent of which, he noted, was a survey conducted nationally by Public Domain in 2023, which indicated that 61% of the population supported the legalisation of cannabis for medical usage.

“It was clear that the times had changed, and it was time for our laws to change as well,” Prime Minister Davis stated.

He continued:  “We’ve been hard at work since 2021. We knew this was not a process we could rush. There was a recognised need for carefulness and due diligence, but there was also a need to ensure that this new legislative and regulatory regime could be introduced and implemented within this term.  We could not simply kick the can down the road for our next term the way other administrations did.  No, we could not delay these changes – not when so many people had waited for years for real action to be taken.

“Today, the wait is over.”

Prime Minister Davis noted that his Government was taking action on behalf of all of the people who simply wanted the ability to legally consume medical cannabis to help them with their medical conditions.

“There are people with children suffering from epilepsy who have been praying for this moment,” he said.  “There are people with glaucoma who want the opportunity to potentially alleviate their condition with a cost-effective and natural treatment.”

Prime Minister Davis added that there were people living with auto-immune conditions, chronic pain, anxiety, depression, and other ailments who were “waiting not-so-patiently for this day.”

“We are taking action for the many men and women living with criminal records for carrying small amounts of cannabis, and the many others who will be spared criminal records as a result of decriminalization,” he said.

Prime Minister Davis stated that, as a society, his Government realised that the old approach taken against Cannabis in the War on Drugs in the 1980s and 90s did not necessarily reflect the current reality.

“Too many livelihoods have been lost because of a joint,” he said.  “Too many lives have been handicapped and potentials lost.”

He added that when he was saying that, it was not his intent to excuse those who choose to break the law.

“After all, the law is the law; it must be respected and upheld,” Prime Minister Davis stated.  “But we also recognise that the law is not static, it is dynamic. And the interpretation of the law and how it serves the greater good of society can change over time.  I am confident that many lives will be changed for the better as a result of the criminal records that will be expunged.”

“Through these reforms, we are upholding the rule of law, making it clear that if you are seeking to supply others with cannabis illegally or engage in other unlicenced and illegal activities, you will be held accountable,” he added.  “Everyone is welcome to participate within the legal and regulatory framework and only within that framework.

“Of course, as a part of this reform process, we are also taking action to recognise the rights and freedoms of Rastafarians to use Cannabis as a sacrament because it should not be against the law for our brothers and sisters of the Rastafarian faith to practice their religion.”

PHOTO CAPTION

Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis speaks, on July 15, 2024, during his Contribution to the Cannabis Reform Compendium 2024 Debate in the House of Assembly.    (BIS Photos/Ulric Woodside)

 

Release: BIS

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Government

Proposed Amendments for Business Licensing in TCI heard at June 4 Cabinet Meeting  

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#TurksandCaicos, July 19, 2024 – Her Excellency the Acting Governor Anya Williams chaired the 17th meeting of the Cabinet on Tuesday June 4th, 2024, at the Office of the Premier on the island of Providenciales.

All members of Cabinet were present with the exception of Governor H.E. Dileeni Daniel-Selvaratnam, Attorney General Hon. Rhondalee Knowles and the Ministers of Home Affairs and Public Safety and Utilities.  Ms. Yaa McCartney attended in the capacity of Acting Attorney General.

At this meeting Cabinet:

  1. Received a presentation from the Ministry of Finance on the proposed amendments to Business Licensing which was being put forward as a result of the consultations that had taken place and agreed next steps.

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Government

TCI Cabinet hears NHIP Change Management Plan in Meeting held April 24, 2024  

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#TurksandCaicos, July 19, 2024 – Her Excellency the Governor Dileeni Daniel-Selvaratnam chaired the 12th meeting of the Cabinet on Wednesday April 24, 2024, at the Office of the Premier on the island of Providenciales.

All members were present with the exception of the Ministers of Education, Tourism, Border Control and Public Safety who were away from the islands on official duties.

At this meeting Cabinet:

  1. Received a presentation from the National Health Insurance Plan Consultants on the organizations Change Management Program.
  2. Noted an information paper on the work of the Economic Substance Consultancy which was undertaken to provide services to the Financial Transactions Information Exchange Unit (FTIE) in regard to the previous blacklisting of the Turks and Caicos Islands which has since the engagement of this consultancy been reversed.
  3. Approved the reinstatement of the Grand Lucayan MOU for an additional six months from the execution date of the previously approved MOU.
  4. Approved the settlement of a Claim Against Government in line with a ruling of the Court.
  5. Approved the grant of a license for the beach nourishment and installation of four groins lying seaward of parcels 60703/253-263, 330, 331-342 situated at Cheshire Hall for the protection of the shoreline of the said parcels.

Further information on these matters will be provided by Ministers in due course.

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