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PDM Leader Hon. Edwin A. Astwood Delivers State of the State Address

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Rebuttal

 

Tonight, It is now clear to everyone who watched the Premier’s State of the State address that the Premier and his PNP Cabinet have either spent the last 2 years ignoring all the real issues facing the Turks and Caicos Islands or Making them worse.

In his address, the Premier tried to paint a different picture of the country, but his actions over the last 2 years, don’t match the rhetoric that we have heard. This is not what the people that voted his Party into Office were expecting. This PNP Administration has made life harder for the average resident of the Turks & Caicos Islands.

I believe that every TCI who was watching this speech had asked themselves:

After 2 long years of the Hon. Charles W. Misick-led PNP administration, am I better of now than I was 4 years ago, before the pandemic?

The answer I NO.

SO YOU HAVE NOT DELIVERED”

Every TCI is probably paying 30% more for monthly expenses than they did 4 years ago, the cost of living is at an all-time high, for many the chance of owning a home is far out of reach. They just can’t afford the extremely high prices.

Many persons have left the country, and many more are planning to leave. We have not seen an Exodus like this since the late ’60s, and early 70’s.

“SO Mr. PREMIER -YOU HAVE NOT DELIVERED”

Under this current PNP administration, far too many of our families are living paycheck to paycheck.

Under this current PNP administration Wages are struggling to keep pace with the actual cost of living.

Under this current PNP administration, we are seeing moms’ and dads’ paychecks buy them less and less.

Under this current PNP administration, we are seeing our working people choose which essential Items to take home- and which ones to leave behind.

Under this current PNP administration, we are seeing a record amount of vacancies in the Public Service- we heard 400 vacancies.

“SO YOU HAVE NOT DELIVERED”

Under this current PNP administration, we are seeing persons being sent into retirement while there is still a great need for the retention of their services.

The Hon. Premier said tonight that his government had created a Health Care system that is accessible and delivers a High-Quality Care – however – Under this current PNP administration, we are seeing Health care outcomes the worse it has ever been in modern times.

In this nation where the Premier says that the Economy is ROARING, we are hearing of Turks and Caicos Islanders who are skipping blood pressure pills and insulin injections, forced to choose between buying medicine or buying food.

So regardless of whether he site GDP, whether he cites tourist numbers, Cruise Ship numbers, whether he cites job vacancy numbers, decrease in customs processing fees, decrease in fuel tax -or whether you site some other things the Premier is trying to hang his hat on-

The Fact is that for the average TCI, those cited numbers don’t translate into a better life or better opportunities. It has NOT.

“SO YOU HAVE NOT DELIVERED”

We as politicians should never lose sight of whom we are working for.

But what we have heard tonight shows a government that is totally disconnected from its people.

Tonight we heard the Premier take credit for many projects that the previous administration did. His role was only to cut ribbons – nothing else. He took credit for Covid Vaccinations, the travel portal, mental health facilities, agriculture policy, Farmer’s market, and school gardens- none of which he had anything to do with it.

Additionally, they had nothing to do with the South Caicos Airport getting done- their only role thus far was to take walk-throughs and pose for pictures.

“SO YOU HAVE NOT DELIVERED”

Every major thing that this PNP Administration had put in place is having a negative effect on our people.

An example is the Beach vendors Bill which is killing local small businesses and making it harder for the surviving businesses to operate.

Another is the closing down of the Tourist Board and opening of the DMO- which is putting 17 of our people out of work- the Premier said in his speech tonight that “that change is uncomfortable, but it is necessary- so he is viewing the staff as “causalities of war.”

You should not have to wake up every morning and worry about the next thing this Government is going to do to you or your children, or do to your business, or your way of life.

That is why No one is listening to the Premier anymore. His Cabinet and his Team are weak. He commands no more respect. The majority of our People no longer care what he says. He and his team did it to themselves. The people gave them a chance, and they “bit the hand that fed them.”

Recently we have been watching the news from around the world that is showing entire populations revolting against leaders who refuse to improve their lives.

And we can now confirm that they have no idea of how to reverse the economic and cultural trends that are destroying the Turks and Caicos Islands.

They cannot improve anyone’s life, only they can enhance their own.

At some point, the Premier will be gone. His Cabinet will be gone. The rest of us will be gone, too. The country will remain. What kind of country will it be then?

Who will call themselves Turks and Caicos Islanders?

How do we want our children and grandchildren to live?

What social, economic, and political climate will they face?

These are the only questions that matter.

The answers use to be obvious. Prosperity and a successful life. However, the goal for the Turks and Caicos is both simpler and more elusive than mere prosperity:

It includes happiness. There are a lot of ingredients in being happy: Dignity, Purpose, Safety, Opportunity, Self-respect, national pride, freedom, self-determination, and Above all, deep relationships with other people.

Those are the things that you want for your children. They are the things that our leaders should want for us and would want if they cared.

But the current PNP leaders don’t care. We are being governed by soldiers of fortune who feel no long-term obligation to the people that had elected them.

Tonight – The Premier said it himself, he said “I KNOW MY TIME IS LIMITED”

Yes, Premier your time is limited

They’re temporary workers, backup drivers, day traders, Substitute teachers, and guest workers. They’re just passing through. They have no skin in this game, and it shows. They can’t solve our problems. They don’t even bother to talk with our people in order to understand our problems.

When you care about people, you do your best to treat them fairly. Our PNP leaders don’t even try. They hand out jobs and contracts and opportunities based purely on how close you are associated with them.

Yes, the country is Booming, but it is only booming for the Premier and his closest friends. Their little group did increase their economic advantage. But for everyone else, we are still fighting for the crumbs from the table.

It has to be clear that the actions of the Premier and his party are pulling us further and further apart

Unfairness is profoundly contentious. When you favor one child over another, your children don’t hate you. They hate each other.

This is what’s happening in our country, probably by this PNP Administration’s grand design;

Divided countries are easier to rule and exploit. And nothing divides us like the perception that some select people are getting super special treatment, while all others get nothing and are being left behind. The general public should oppose this with everything they have.

SO YOU HAVE NOT DELIVERED

But it doesn’t have to be that way. There is an alternative-

Across our nation, the PDM party is now showing our people what PDM Leadership looks like:

What it means to respect the people we serve – to hear them out, to talk with them not down at them, to stand up for them, to walk alongside them,

We know that our problems require bold action, but we know that doesn’t mean the government making decisions without the people.

The PDM may not have the Government but we are doing what we can to fill the leadership vacuum in our Government. And on the major issues that are affecting TCIs, the PDM is leading in putting workable recommendations forward.

We are standing up for our people.

Most of all we are respecting You the people as being the ones that we have to answer to. The Premiere only talks about it, we the PDM do it.

That is what I believe, that is what the PDM believes, and that is what the PDM is doing.

In his speech, The Honorable premier never truly established how we will fix some of the things plaguing our people and the country. We are now more uncertain about our future as a nation than ever before.

“SO IN SUMMARY YOU HAVE NOT DELIVERED”

Over the last 2 years, I have put my faith in our people across the length and breadth of the Turks and Caicos Islands, and they haven’t let me down.

I encourage this Premier and his government to do the same – to put his faith in you the TCI people who have never wavered in your belief in this country, regardless of which PARTY leads it.

You know that the soul of the TCI is not about who is the elected government, its men and women like you in every Island and corner of our nation, who are willing to step up and take responsibility for your communities, for your Island, for your country, and ultimately for yourselves.

The majority of the country knows that the PDM can do better, we must do better, and We are better.

Thank you, God Bless you and God bless the TCI

Government

Washington MISICK challenged, and holds onto Leadership of the PNP

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#TurksandCaicos, February 24, 2024 – Magnetic Media can report that WASHINGTON MISICK has emerged and remains LEADER of the governing Progressive National Party.It has been a contentious battle today at the PNPs National General Congress (NGC) for party leadership with interest coming from: Jas Walkin, the party’s 2021 campaign manager who this week publicly withdrew his bid; Dameko Dean, former Wheeland candidate who had published an article revealing his quest to lead the PNP and E Jay Saunders who today unsuccessfully challenged MISICK for the role.Saunders has tried for leader before and has served as the party’s deputy leader, at the pleasure and selection of Washington Misick since June 2019.The run for party leader was a risky maneuver by Saunders, son of former PNP Party leader and Chief Minister Norman Saunders.Delegates cast votes, giving E Jay Saunders 58 votes and Washington Misick 88. The elder statesman convincingly retaining delegates’ confidence.It is also reported that, based on the PNP Constitution, Saunders needed 70% support from delegates in a preliminary run off.  He was unable to secure that much backing.A constitutional motion to change the selection process of the deputy leader to a delegate vote reportedly failed.It is therefore unclear what the immediate future, politically is for Saunders whose party and government roles are hinged on Washington Misick’s prerogative to have him or someone else in these posts.However Misick is already promoting a strict focus on uniting the party following the NGC meeting held at the Shore Club.

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Ministry of Health and Human Services in Collaboration with UK Health Security Agency conducts Migrant Health needs Assessment  

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#TurksandCaicos, February 23, 2024 – The Ministry of Health and Human Services has partnered with a team from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) UK Overseas Territories (UKOTs) Public Health Programme to conduct a health needs assessment for communities in informal settlements throughout the TCI.  This project was funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) and has taken place through a series of consultations and meetings in order to assess health needs and propose recommendations to address gaps in access to health care.

A steering committee supported the preliminary discussions on developing the scope and direction for the assessment and included representation from the TCI from Dr. Dawn O’Sullivan, Dr. Camelia Clarke (Director, Health Promotion and Advocacy Unit), Mrs. Aldora Robinson (Former Director, Health Promotion and Advocacy Unit) and Dr. Nadia Astwood (Chief Medical Officer).

This project culminated in an in-country visit by a team which included: Annabel Grieve (Programme Management Lead), Dr. Amoolya Vusirikala (Public Health Registrar) and Allegra Chatterjee (Epidemiologist) with earlier support provided by Dr. Natalie Wright, Health Protection Lead and Consultant in Global Public Health with the UK Overseas Territories, Global Operations. The visit, which began on January 21st 2024 and concluded this week, saw a number of in-person consultations with key stakeholders across sectors, as well as community focus groups conducted in Providenciales and Grand Turk.

Following the visit, the team paid a courtesy call to the Hon. Minister of Health and Human Services, Shaun D Malcolm and the Executive Team from the Ministry of Health and Human Services, to provide a high level debrief and presentation of the preliminary findings of the assessment. Following further analysis of the findings of the visit, a final report will be submitted to the Ministry of Health and Human Services which will provide a number of conclusions as well as evidence-based recommendations for consideration by the Government.

Commenting on the visit, Hon. Shaun D Malcolm stated that “we welcome this support from UKHSA and FCDO with whom the Ministry of Health has enjoyed a close working relationship and technical support over the years, to formally assess the health needs of this population in order to ensure that the overall health of our population can be addressed in a holistic manner to ensure that universal access to health care is addressed.”

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Government

Conrad Forbes appointed Principal of A. Louise Garland-Thomas High School  

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#TurksandCaicos, February 23, 2024 – The Office of the Deputy Governor is delighted to announce the appointment of Mr. Conrad Forbes as the new Principal of A. Louise Garland-Thomas High School within the Ministry of Education, Youth, Sport, and Social Services.

Mr. Forbes is a forward-thinking educational leader with a proven record of success. His journey in education began at Florida Atlantic University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education in 2000 and a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership in 2003. Additionally, Mr. Forbes is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Christian Ministry at Liberty University.

Mr. Forbes possesses a diverse skill set that includes instructional plan implementation, faculty development, school management, professional and ethical leadership. With over two decades of experience in education, Mr. Forbes has demonstrated his commitment to providing quality education and fostering positive learning environments. Throughout a notable tenure at Broward County Public Schools from 2006 to 2019, Mr. Forbes excelled as an Assistant Principal. He supervised educational programs for a Magnet Montessori Pre-K-8 school, initiated teacher mentor programs, and played a crucial role in curriculum alignment, faculty development, and fostering a cohesive school culture.

Mr. Forbes’s leadership journey continued as an Assistant Principal at Seminole County Public Schools, Bear Lake Elementary in Apopka, Florida, from 2019 to 2021. Here, he managed organizational processes, recruited effective faculty, and improved the learning environment, demonstrating a commitment to quality education.

Mr. Forbes expanded his impact by serving as the Dean of Students in the School Board of Osceola County from 2022 to 2023. Here, he successfully managed school operations, student discipline, and provided training to faculty on classroom management strategies.

Reflecting on his appointment, Mr. Forbes expressed, “It is with great humility and honor that I undertake the position of Principal at A. Louise Garland Thomas High School. With over twenty-three years of experience as an educator and administrator, I hold a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in educational leadership. I have worked in both primary and secondary levels and in culturally diverse communities.

As an educator, I have always been committed to promoting a conducive environment that encourages student achievement. My family’s native land is the Turks and Caicos Islands, and I am eager to make a positive impact on my community. In my experience, building robust relationships with the school’s stakeholders such as staff, students, parents, and partners is a critical component of high-performing schools. Therefore, I intend to continue the proud traditions of A. Louise Garland Thomas High School by upholding established relationships and creating new ones.”

Deputy Governor and Head of the Public Service, Her Excellency Anya Williams, congratulated Mr. Conrad Forbes on his appointment, stating: “It is a pleasure to welcome Mr. Conrad Forbes to the Turks and Caicos Islands Public Service as the new Principal of the A. Louise Garland-Thomas High School within the Ministry of Education, Youth, Sport, and Social Services.

Mr. Forbes brings along with him a wealth of experience from the education sector in United Stated as well as experience from his work with young men through various programs. We know that his presence at the high school will provide great value to the continued work of the school, and he will lead the charge to continue to strengthen the quality of education and learning at the A. Louise Garland Thomas High School.”

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