By Dana Malcolm
#TurksandCaicos, April, 2023 – The Turks and Caicos will be losing yet another banking branch following confirmation of reports that CIBC FirstCaribbean bank in Grace Bay will be shut down on Friday March 31st.
CIBC representatives confirmed the shutdown to MM Thursday March 30th. Employees at the Leeward Highway branch moved over to the Grace Bay branch in January to allow for necessary upgrades and expansions to infrastructure. That shift lasted for four months and employees were scheduled to move back to Leeward Highway in early April. No mention of a closure to the Grace Bay branch was made in the January 12 press release that detailed the upgrades.
Citing those upgrades, which are now complete, Managing Director of the Bahamas Operating Company, responsible also for TCI, Dr. Jacqui Bend said, “CIBC FirstCaribbean is continuing to work on a number of initiatives aimed at improving the processes and technologies that our teams use to support our clients and employees alike. We have committed further investments in simplification, automation, and security across our bank and, as always, our clients will be the beneficiaries of this renewed effort,
It’s a repeat of the firm’s new mantra focused on self-service and digitization that has seen the local presence of the country’s oldest bank diminish more and more.
CIBC defends the decision explaining that retail client services had already been ceased at that Grace Bay branch and the closure of it earlier this year, while expansion Leeward Highway’s location was designed to ‘reconfigure and improve’ their network for the future.
“While there may be a few teething issues being encountered while our teams and clients adjust to their new surroundings, our teams are working with an ‘all hands on deck approach’ to expedite service to our clients,” she said in the statement shared with Magnetic Media.
The shifts to more digitized services eliminates the in person experience and residents have voiced discontent with the strategy. Earlier this year CIBC First Caribbean indicated they would pare down services and the in branch experience at their Grand Turk location.
It left Grand Turk with no banks within which they could enter to get that ‘human touch’. While there was outrage, Government remained silent.
Since January 3rd, customers of the bank have had to shift to the digital approach which now requires smaller cash deposits and smaller cash withdrawals to be made via ABMs, which are more state of the art and it also means applying for many of the banking features online.
Late October Approval of Customs Fee Reduction at TCI Cabinet, October 26 Meeting
#TurksandCaicos, November 25, 2023 – Her Excellency the Governor, Dileeni Daniel-Selvaratnam, chaired the 27th meeting of Cabinet on Wednesday October 26, 2023 at the Premier’s Office on Providenciales.
All Members were present.
- Approved an amendment to the Hurricane Fiona Relief Programme to allow payment to a relative of a recipient through Power of Attorney or written consent.
- Approved a reduction of the Customs Processing Fee from 7.5% to 5% from October 1, 2023 to March 31, 2025.
- Approved the exemption of Import Customs Duties for replacement equipment for Digicel TCI. A Telecommunications Policy is currently being worked on to avoid future one off request in this area.
- Approved the appointment of Ms. Janelle Hamilton as the Chairperson of The Allied Health Professions and Pharmacy Professions Council for a period of two years effective October 30th, 2023.
- Approved the appointment of Dr Euan Menzies as Chairperson and Ms. Susan Malcolm as Deputy Chairperson of the Medicine and Dentistry Professions Council for a period of 2 years effective October 30th, 2023.
- Accepted the resignation of Chairman Mr. Oswald Williams from the Public and Environmental Board. Rescinded the appointment of Mr. Allan Robinson as a member of the Public and Environmental Health Board and approved his appointment as the new Chair for three years effective October 31, 2023.
- Accepted the revocation of appointment of Bishop Edwin Lightbourne as a Member of the Adoption Committee and approved the appointment of Pastor Bradley Handfield – Minister of Religion as a member of the board until April 9th, 2024 in line with other board appointments.
- Noted the recommendations of the Procurement Board on the award of the following contracts which are in line with the process according to the provisions of the Public Procurement Ordinance:
- PN 005698, TR 23/24, Vehicle for NSS
- PN 005783, TR 23/20, Furniture and Equipment for Mental Health Offices
III. PN 005799, TR 23/06, Replacement Vehicle – Deputy Governor
- PN 005804, TR 23/23, Vehicles for AGC – Crown Land and Valuation Department
- Approved the payment of a Special Christmas Salary Advance of one month’s basic salary or pension to all qualifying TCIG public servants and pensioners repayable over a period of 6 months commencing February 2024. An Order to this effect to be signed by the Minister of Finance and published in the Gazette.
- Approved for Her Excellency the Governor on behalf of the the Turks and Caicos Islands to enter into an agreement with Virgin Atlantic Airlines for the purpose of establishing a new direct airline route between London Heathrow, UK and Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands commencing November 4th, 2023.
- Approved the addition of the post of Deputy Financial Controller as a permanent position in the National Insurance Board organizational structure and for an existing post to be removed so as to not increase the staff complement in the department.
- Approved in principle a proposal for the transportation of donkeys to the island of Jamaica as a part of the Jamaican Governments’ Rural Agricultural Transportation Program and to control the feral donkey population within the TCI, subject to the required financial provisions being made.
- Approved in principle a Draft MOU between the Turks and Caicos Government and Canadian non-for-profit charity Dog Tales Rescue and Sanctuary to control the feral dog population on the island of Grand Turk.
Further information on these matters will be provided by Ministers in due course.
World Bank has warning as Israel-Hamas conflict escalates
#WashingtonDC – A new report from the World Bank is warning that if a full-scale conflict between Israel and Hamas breaks out oil prices could soar to record highs. It could push prices up by 13 percent to a possible $102 per barrel in a low-scale disruption and up to 157 in a high-scale disruption.
Bahamas Government to Introduce Measures to Address the High Cost of Living
#TheBahamas, October 9, 2023 – During her Speech from the Throne on October 4, 2023, Governor General Her Excellency the Most Hon.
Cynthia Pratt said that survey results from 2020 confirm that The Bahamas remains one of the top 10 most expensive countries in the world.
“The high cost of living is a major cause of financial stress and psychological distress in the country,” Her Excellency said during the Opening of the New Session of Parliament in Parliament Square.
Her Excellency said her Government does not wish to overburden any section of the community, but does seek to make the economy fairer.
She explained that to provide a better framework for businesses and consumers, her Government will
introduce the following measures:
• A new Registrar General Bill to re-organize the operations of the Registrar General’s Office. This will help to ease the burden of doing business in The Bahamas.
• A new online company registry portal which will help to make the process of registration more efficient.
• A new online civil platform, to provide efficient and transparent services to Bahamians.
Her Excellency said her Government is also mindful of the need to provide for greater protection of consumers, and will therefore introduce Consumer Protection legislation.
“As the cost of energy is a significant driver of high costs in the country, My Government will undertake a ‘root and branch’ review of the energy sector, and has recently established a Ministry of Energy to implement effective, long-lasting solutions.
“My Government has already launched programmes to install 100 megawatts of solar energy in Nassau, and new blended power facilities incorporating a minimum of 50 per cent solar generation in 16 locations throughout the Family Islands.
“The introduction of renewable energy is a fundamental component of our promise to drive down the cost of electricity.”
Her Excellency said her Government remains especially committed to implementing clean energy in New Providence, by moving to sources of renewable energy, and becoming less dependent on fossil fuels.
“Building on these efforts, my Government will therefore introduce the following legislation:
• A new Renewable Energy Bill that will provide a legislative and regulatory framework for the expansion of renewable energy generation.
• A new Liquid Natural Gas Bill that will provide a legislative and regulatory framework for development of
LNG generation – which will produce lower carbon emissions than the current system – along with the
regulation of bunkering and blending LNG facilities in The Bahamas.”
(BIS Photos/Eric Rose)
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