PDM Leader Hon. Edwin A. Astwood Delivers State of the State Address
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
Kamala Harris to meet with Caribbean leaders in The Bahamas
#USA, June 5, 2023 – Kamala Harris, United States Vice President will journey to Nassau Bahamas in June for a top level meeting with Caribbean leaders, marking the first time she will visit the region since occupying office in 2021.
According to the White House in a statement, the meeting will bring attention to a range of regional issues. Harris and the Caribbean leaders will continue talks on the shared efforts to address the climate crisis, such as promoting climate resilience and adaptation in the region and increasing energy security through clean energy.
Additionally, the statement informed that Harris’ trip “delivers on the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to advance cooperation with the Caribbean in pursuit of shared prosperity and security, and in recognition of the common bonds and interests between our nations.”
The June 8th meeting builds on and strengthens the U.S.-Caribbean Partnership to Address the Climate Crisis 2030, which was launched by the Vice President and Caribbean leaders in Los Angeles at the Summit of the Americas as further mentioned by White House Statement.
CARPHA Observes World No Tobacco Day
Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, June 5, 2023 – Tobacco use remains a major public health concern in the Caribbean Region. There is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke. The use of tobacco products in any form harms nearly every organ of the body, irrespective of whether it is smoked, smokeless, or electronic. Of all the forms of tobacco use, most common in the Caribbean region is cigarette smoking. Cigarette smoking is the number one risk factor for lung cancer. Using other tobacco products such as cigars or pipes also increases the risk for this disease.
Second-hand smoke exposure causes stroke, lung cancer, and coronary heart disease in adults; and acute respiratory infections and severe asthma in children. It is a preventable risk factor for noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), which are the leading cause of death, disease and disability among Caribbean people.
This year, World No Tobacco Day focuses on Grow Food, Not Tobacco. This campaign advocates for ending tobacco cultivation and switching to more sustainable crops that improve food security and nutrition. The campaign observed annually on 31 May, also informs the public on the dangers of direct use, and exposure to tobacco.
In the Caribbean Region, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are the leading cause of death and disability – 76.8% of the total deaths (non-Latin Caribbean, excluding Haiti) were due to NCDs in 2016. Cardiovascular diseases 30.8% and cancer 17.2% are the leading causes of death due to NCD, both linked to tobacco use. Many of these persons die in the prime of their lives before the age of 70 years old. The prevalence of smokers for overall tobacco products ranged from 57.2% prevalence (95%CI 48.4 to 65.4%) to 16.2% (95%CI 11.2 to 23.0%). According to the Report on Tobacco Control in the Region of the Americas (2018) Caribbean countries have the highest levels of tobacco experimentation before the age of 10.
Dr. Joy St. John, Executive Director at the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) “Smokeless does not mean harmless. Nicotine in e-cigarettes is a highly addictive drug and can damage children’s developing brains. Children and adolescents who use e-cigarettes at least double their chance of smoking cigarettes later in life. Preventing tobacco product use among youth is therefore critical. It is important that we educate children and adolescents about the harms of nicotine and tobacco product use. We must work to prevent future generations from seeing such products as “normal”.”
In 2008, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) endorsed the recommendation to ban smoking in public spaces. Later, in 2012, CARICOM regulated a standard for labelling retail packages of tobacco products with health warnings. Caribbean civil society organisations (CSOs), working in collaboration with local governments and international partners, have led the charge in fighting for significant gains in tobacco control in the Caribbean region.
Dr Heather Armstrong, Head, Chronic Disease and Injury: “At CARPHA, we believe that reducing the harm caused by tobacco use requires a collective approach, where government, civil society, and the individual play a critical role. CARPHA promotes the prevention of tobacco use in all forms and commitment to the WHO FCTC. The focus on tobacco control deals with the youth of the Region. Children and adolescents who use e-cigarettes at least double their chance of smoking cigarettes later in life.”
The Chronic Diseases and Injury Department of CARPHA provides leadership, strategic direction, coordinates and implements technical cooperation activities directed towards the prevention and control of NCDs in CARPHA Member States. CARPHA’s message for prevention of tobacco product use has spread across its Member States.
In 2018, CARPHA in partnership with the University of the West Indies (UWI), Global Health Diplomacy Program at the University of Toronto, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), and the Healthy Caribbean Coalition evaluated the Port of Spain Declaration to learn which mandates helped to prevent and control NCDs. Taxation, smoke-free public places mandate, and mandatory labelling of tobacco products are some of the leading policies making the biggest impact on reduction of tobacco use in the Caribbean regions.
CARPHA urges Member States to work together to prevent and reduce the use of all forms of tobacco products, and scale-up efforts to implement their commitments under the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). By doing so, the negative impact of smoking and its consequences on the health of our people, especially the younger generation, and the tremendous burden on the economies of the countries in our Region, will greatly be reduced.
Hunger rates rise in Latin America and the Caribbean
June 5, 2023 – It’s an unfortunate reality for Latin America and the Caribbean as the number of people suffering from hunger surged by 30 percent; 56 million people now facing hunger, a large increase from 43 million in 2019.
It was revealed by Mario Lubetkin, Deputy Director General and Regional Representative for Latin America and the Caribbean of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), where he further informed that the war in Ukraine, COVID-19, and the ongoing climate crisis are to blame for the surge.
Regarding the climate crisis, he emphasized that climate related challenges are on the rise as the region experiences combinations of droughts and floods; and to combat this, he expressed that proactive measures should be put in place to prepare farmers for potential severe impacts.
To help mitigate the surge in hunger rate, he put forth a three fold approach.
The first is the importance of effectively managing the current situation by whatever means necessary; for the second, he fingered the need for the creation of sufficient funds to mitigate the impact on farmers, for the third, he highlighted the need for collaboration among Governments, public sectors, and private sectors in order to mollify the burden of rising prices on consumers.
These highlighted efforts are in line with the aspirations and duties of the FAO which is devoted to supporting family farming, which makes up 80 percent of the workforce in the Agriculture sector.
Additionally, Lubetkin spoke of FAO’s commitment to quality products and brought attention to the United Nations Decade of Family Farming, which is geared towards eradicating hunger, ensuring food security, and promoting sustainable development in rural areas.
The organization also aims to enhance food security, a needed element in the regions, through innovation and digitization processes for example “1,000 digital villages,” one of their projects aids countries in using digital tools in agri-food systems and rural territories.
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