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Skippings Speaks

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#TurksandCaicos, April 13, 2023 – Isn’t it extremely alarming and unacceptable to be numbered among the countries in the region with the highest number of murders?

What about the almost daily invasion by illegal Haitian immigrants, some who are criminal deportees from the United States of America, as well as violent, savage rebels fleeing Haiti and giving the decent Haitian community here a bad name, while infesting our culture and systematically destroying our Beautiful By Nature country.

It is indeed frightening what is taking place in our little Turks and Caicos and how we are systematically being exterminated while too many of us are so unconcerned and disconnected from reality of this nightmare, as we nonchalantly, peacefully rest in  dreamland.

The church needs to rise to the occasion and exercise the divinely delegated remedial authority given to it to heal the nation, realizing that there is a national pandemic of death and destruction that has overtaken the Turks and Caicos Islands that is far more detrimental than COVID was.

I beg to ask the question, which politician has bothered to gather the medical illness statistics, the number of medical referrals abroad, and the death statistics just for the past two years, and attempted to analyze the causes and sought solutions and strategies to put plans in place to mitigate and correct all these devastating irregularities? Why aren’t they concerned? Why is so much unconsciousness and such apathy so prevalent among our people and our politicians.

Why isn’t the church concerned and motivated to unite nationally in prayer, supplication and deliverance before we as indigenous Turks and Caicos islanders become extinct? Is the church too blind to perceive the spiritual element of what’s going on?

Which politician has compared the birth rate of Turks and Caicos Islanders vs non Turks and Caicos Islanders to discover how much of an astoundingly incredible deficit we as Turks and Caicos Islanders are in, including the many births to illegal parents?

Who has bothered to compare the death rate of Turks and Caicos Islanders vs that of non-indigenous Turks and Caicos Islanders, and discover the 99% difference. The question is why are we the ones dying like flies while we are so overwhelmingly outnumbered?

Are we going to wake up as an electorate and as politicians and face the harsh reality of the escalating erosion of power and authority, the loss of national assets and institutions, the deterioration of our health and the unnatural excessive loss of lives, and seek to save ourselves, our children, our grandchildren and future generations?

I realize that I’m one of the very few voices crying in the wilderness, but I will not cease and desist because of the burden that I carry for my people and my country. While I sincerely love all peoples of all nationalities, colors, class and creeds, I have an inherent responsibility of protecting, elevating and empowering our people, the same as any other patriot in any other country has for his or her people.

If we as indigenous Turks and Caicos Islanders are going to survive this genocidal attack, we need a nationally united, conscious and prayerful church and vigilant, patriotic, proactive, visionary and bold political leaders to rise to this catastrophic occasion and save our country and people. SELAH!

 

By Hon Oswald O. Skippings

Government

OFFICE OF THE DEPUTY PREMIER & MINISTRY OF PHYSICAL PLANNING & INFRASTUCTURE DEVELOPMENT

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Ministerial Statement April 18th, 2024

 

Mr. Speaker, fellow colleagues, strangers in the gallery, and the citizens of our great nation, it is indeed a great day here in these islands and certainly a privilege to be in the Nation’s Capital, here in the people’s house to deliver on behalf of the people of this country. Mr. Speaker, I align myself with the condolences expressed, particularly to the Freites family here in Grand Turk, especially Ms. Elizabeth whom we work very closely with in the Premier’s Office.

Proverbs 21:5 reads; “The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.” Mr. Speaker, this scripture emphasizes the importance of careful planning and diligence in managing the finances of this country. We are fully cognizant, Mr. Speaker, that the public purse belongs to the people and so we have diligently strategized how we will not only spend but invest every cent into the development of this country and its citizens. As I rise today, Mr. Speaker, I am excited as Minister of Physical Planning & Infrastructure Development, imbued with a profound sense of responsibility and a distinct vision for the future of our country’s infrastructure. Our mandate is clear: to build and maintain the physical foundation upon which our society thrives. Our commitment is to enhance the quality of life for each citizen, to develop our communities, and to strengthen the backbone of our economy; our infrastructure.

Mr. Speaker, there are several Departments under our Ministry’s purviews. Allow me to take this Honorable House through our achievement and our goals over the next fiscal year.

 *Department of Planning: **

The Department of Planning is tasked with formulating comprehensive and sustainable development plans across the country. In our quest to make services more accessible and transparent, the department will enhance data collection, analysis, and stakeholder engagement to ensure that our planning processes are inclusive and responsive to our citizens’ needs. Mr. Speaker, this new application system will enable the Department to automate plan submissions, review and approve during the processes. Users will be able to import plans and supporting documents directly into the system where they are automatically organized and routed to the appropriate viewers. Through these efforts, community development and infrastructure initiatives will be accelerated. This new electronic plan review system will transform the planning process and support efficient collaboration and improve public transparency. This initiative will enable us to build more resilient and vibrant communities for the future. This, Mr. Speaker, is the work of a progressive Government.

Over the past year, The Department has been working closely with the informal settlements unit to address these settlements within our communities. One hundred and sixty-five (165) structures have been identified for demolition, two hundred and eighteen (218) enforcement notices have been issued, three cases progressed before the court and twelve (12) penalty fines distributed totaling seventy-five thousand dollars. Mr. Speaker, this is a government in action.

Mr. Speaker, we have made progress in advancing the review and amendment of the National Physical Development Plan 2020 to make changes to the zoning of specific parcels. These amendments will facilitate sustainable urban development while ensuring compliance with local regulations and addressing community needs as they arise. This has already been noted in Cabinet and will progress to the next stages. They say the proof is in the pudding? Well, it just got sweeter because we are delivering for the people and doing more in 2024.

**Department of Housing and Community Renewal: **

Affordable housing and community renewal are key priorities for our government. The Department of Housing and Community Renewal will receive significant funding to support the development of affordable housing projects, improve community infrastructure, and revitalize blighted areas. We are committed to ensuring that all our citizens have access to safe, decent, and affordable housing options. Mr. Speaker, following the successful launch of the National Housing Policy, the Department has made significant strides in achieving its objectives. The application process was opened to the public and eleven (11) applications were received for program 1, three hundred and thirty-two (332) applications under program 2 and thirty-eight (38) expressions of interest in program 3. Of the 332 applications received, 289 were shortlisted. These applications have been grouped into batches and repairs for the first batch of applicants are due to commence shortly. The Cabinet has approved the proposal to streamline the allocation of Crown Land for Housing Development from recommendations made during the public consultation. Vehicles for this department have been tendered and we hope to have them mobilized very soon to assist with conducting site inspections during the construction phase of these projects. The Department has proposed a detailed concession package for developers under our program 1 which will incentivize their participation along with other benefits. Mr. Speaker, I know some people here are like doubting Thomas; they need to see it to believe but things are happening in this department. We are developing an online application portal to streamline the submission process of applications where the public and potential developers can upload all attachments from one location, minimizing errors and improving efficiency. Mr. Speaker, an affordability index is also being developed by the Housing Department to determine what constitutes affordable housing across the various islands and constituencies considering factors such as housing costs, household size etc. and this is being done in collaboration with the Statistics Authority.  It’s been a long time coming but change is here.

**Department of Estates Management: **

The efficient management of government estates is essential for the effective delivery of public services. The Department of Estates Management will receive additional resources to maintain and upgrade government buildings, improve efficiency, and ensure a conducive working environment for civil servants. We will also explore opportunities to optimize the use of government assets. Mr. Speaker, our public service is growing, Ministries and Departments are outgrowing their current workspaces, and Estates Management must move quickly to secure comfortable working environments for staff across the Government. To this end, a sum of $5.4M has been allocated for rental spaces to ensure that our people are in suitable environments to carry out the work that they are expected to produce. This is an increase of 15% over last year’s outturns.  Mr. Speaker, within the last fiscal year, attempts were made to privatize janitorial services, however, because we are a government who seeks to do things and do it well; we’ve met some challenges during the process and therefore made the decision to delay this project until the appropriate mechanisms have been established.

**Public Works Department: **

The Public Works Department which is responsible for the construction and maintenance of public infrastructure have an allocated sum of over $7M to support the rehabilitation of critical infrastructure, expand access to underserved areas, and enhance resilience in infrastructure projects. Our goal is to create a robust and reliable infrastructure network that supports economic growth and social development.

**Mechanical Department: **

The Mechanical Department plays a crucial role in maintaining and repairing essential mechanical systems in government buildings and infrastructure. We have allocated funds for the procurement of new equipment to improve the standards of the mechanical workshops across the islands by conducting repairs to the facilities and procuring heavy duty and specialist equipment. Training of personnel, and the implementation of preventive maintenance programs to ensure the efficient operation of mechanical systems across the country is also a priority for this division. We have commenced the preparation for a new government fleet which will include streamlining the procurement process, reviewing the existing fleet and preparing for the support of plug-in hybrid units and eventually move towards electric capabilities. Mr. Speaker, we are currently working assiduously to finalize the vehicle policy that will apply to ministries across government. It has already been drafted and circulated and will move to its final stages to be submitted to Cabinet for approval.

**Project Management Department: **

Effective project management is essential for the successful implementation of infrastructure projects. The Project Management Department will receive increased funding to strengthen project oversight, improve coordination among stakeholders, and enhance the monitoring and evaluation of projects. We are committed to delivering projects on time, within budget, and to the highest quality standards. Mr. Speaker, this budget allocation will facilitate training and certification of our staff compliment in FIDIC contracts, project management PMI and PMP from the project Management Institute, RICS for quantity Surveyors and Estimators, and other technical areas across various disciplines to ensure they remain current with standard procedures and industry practices.

**Maintenance Department: **

The Maintenance Department plays a vital role in ensuring the ongoing upkeep and maintenance of public infrastructure assets. We have increased funding for routine maintenance activities, repair works, and asset management programs to prolong the lifespan of infrastructure assets and reduce long-term maintenance costs. We are committed to ensuring that our infrastructure remains safe, functional, and sustainable for years to come.

Firstly, Mr. Speaker, the maintenance of schools and other public buildings is not just an investment in bricks and mortar; it is an investment in our future generations. Therefore, we are dedicating a significant portion of our budget to ensure that our educational facilities are not only safe and conducive to learning but are also equipped to inspire and nurture the leaders of tomorrow. We will be upgrading classrooms, improving sanitation facilities, and ensuring that our schools are technologically ready to meet the demands of modern education.

Secondly, Mr. speaker, we are acutely aware that our nation is no stranger to the wrath of nature. Hurricane shelters are a critical aspect of our disaster preparedness strategy. This year, we are increasing funds allocated to the strengthening and expansion of our hurricane shelters. These sanctuaries must be capable of withstanding the severest of storms, offering a haven to those whose homes are threatened.

In the realm of road maintenance, our budget reflects an understanding that well-maintained roads are the arteries of our economy facilitating daily commutes. We are earmarking substantial resources for the repair and resurfacing of roads, and the implementation of modern traffic management solutions to reduce congestion and enhance safety. Mr. Speaker, $2M has been allocated for the initial phase of solar streetlights across constituencies, $2M for road paving and grading, an additional $1.35M in the Framework Agreement to aid in the delivery of the Public Work Ordinance. We aren’t talking small change Mr. Speaker; we are spending big money.

Moreover, community enhancement is a testament to our belief in not just the functionality, but also the spirit of our public spaces. We are significantly increasing the budget to beautify parks, create public recreational facilities, and revitalize communal spaces. These projects are designed to foster community pride, encourage social cohesion, and promote improved family lifestyles.

Disaster Management & Emergencies

As Minister with responsibilities for the Department of Disaster Management, I am pleased to report Mr. speaker that we have given this Department two new homes in both Grand Turk and Providenciales through the purchase of a building that will serve as the headquarters and office space and the eminent relocation. Now the team will have adequate space for effective coordination of responses to emergencies. Strategic investments are at the core of this government, focusing on long-term benefits rather than short-term gains.

Mr. speaker with a designated $1.4M for generators and housing we are ensuring that the department is equipped with the necessary resources to effectively navigate any potential adverse outcomes. We are also relocating the Grand Turk team to their new office space. The budget delineates clear priorities, earmarking funds for crucial sectors such as disaster management; considering the investments outlined earlier along with significant funding for the maintenance and upkeep of our registered shelters.

Policy, Planning & Technical Support

In alignment with our national vision and development goals, we have formulated robust policies aimed at guiding the sustainable growth and modernization of our ministry’s capabilities. We have adopted a comprehensive approach and recognized that the successful implementation of our ambitious agenda requires not only vision but also technical expertise. Therefore, $1.8M earmarked for professional and consultancy affords us the opportunity to provide greater support to projects going forward.

Mr. Speaker, economic projections suggest that the implementation of this budget will lead to job creation, increased productivity, and a more robust economy and so we will improve efforts to engage contractors with periodic training sessions throughout the year equipping them with the skillset to prepare proper bids for both recurrent and capital projects. The intention is for these sessions to be hosted on all islands. Our upcoming 3rd annual contractor’s symposium will further solidify their knowledge enabling our local contractors to participate in works issued by our ministry. Mr. speaker, our aim is to create a skilled workforce with our contractors, establishing a balanced system and minimizing deficiencies in the process. We have also made progressive plans for increased media and communication competencies to keep the public informed of the various programs and expected deadlines.

Capital Projects

Despite the size of the budget, fiscal responsibility remains a foundation of our financial strategy. While there have been several capital projects re-tendered, there is still a significant number of projects that fall within this budget cycle:

  • Boats for Police (Lot 2)
  • Boats for Police (Lot 3)
  • CCTV for Police
  • Purchase of Patrol Vessel – Regiment
  • DECR Equipment – Vessel
  • DECR Equipment – Outboard Engines
  • Drainage and Site Works HJRHS
  • Highway and Road Improvements-GDT
  • Remediation Works to Ponds and Bridges – West Road and Church Folly
  • Remediation Works to Ponds and Bridges – Ponds for GDT
  • Housing Project Initiative – Program 2
  • Digitization Phase 2 – Consultancy for National Identification System – Stage 1a
  • Land Registry Digitalization Project
  • Crown Land Project
  • Climate Resilience Coastal Management
  • Bridges, Ponds and Roads – GDT Roads
  • Consultancy Framework Agreement for Public Works
  • Construction of Warehouse Building in Grand Turk
  • Consultancy for Geodetic Global Navigation Satellite Systems
  • Community Parks Development – Five Cays and Kew Town
  • Repairs to RGHS Art Block
  • Back-up Generators including Housing
  • Biosecurity Unit
  • Purchase of Incinerator
  • Ambulances for Islands (8 Ambulances)
  • Community Roads All Islands – Providenciales
  • Leeward Highway Rehabilitation Works

Mr. Speaker, the $1.8M in technical support will aid in these projects being delivered on time, within budget and with maximum return for our citizens.

Community Enhancement Program/ C.E.P

The budget for the works program in this fiscal year is ambitious; but necessary. I assure you that every dollar invested in this program has been carefully considered to improve the quality of life for our citizens, to stimulate economic growth and prepare this country for the challenges and opportunities of the future. Mr. speaker, this program has extensive cost benefits and reflects the strategic priorities of this government. In the last financial year, our efforts yielded much success through the following initiatives:

GRAND TURK:

  • Construction of two (2) gazebos to the amount of $80,000.00
  • Construction of Lunch Shed at HJRHS to the amount of $86,869.00
  • RFP for the beatification of the Grand Turk sign to the amount of $37,560.00
  • Verge Cleaning works in the amount of $90K

SALT CAY:

  • Construction of fencing around landfill/dump site to the amount of $98k.
  • Verge cleaning: $37K
  • Works to water depot: $9K
  • Back-up Generator R.O Plant: $214K
  • Deans Dock Repairs: $70k
  • Gazebo – North District: $52,500.00
  • Gazebo – South District: $47,501.00
  • Refurbishment of pool area – Duncombe Point – $9,325. 00
  • Garbage receptacles x 4 – $36,582.00
  • Duncombe point $8,895.00
  • Hurricane Shelter – $9,449.00
  • Airport – $9,298.00
  • Dean’s Dock – $8,940.00
  • Fencing to Salt Cay Clinic – $5.849.85
  • Refurbishment works to Salt Shed $70k

SOUTH CAICOS:

  • Construction of Boat slip/ramp to the amount of $46K
  • Construction of Drainage cover to the amount of $36K

MIDDLE CAICOS:

  • Demolition Works to the amount of $150K.

PROVIDENCIALES:

  • Construction of Sidewalks to the amount of $382K
  • Construction of gazebos to the amount of $42K
  • Construction of boat ramps to the amounts of $96K
  • Construction of Welcome Sign to the amount of $45K.

The Ministry has achieved remarkable milestones spearheading the country’s infrastructural transformation and development. Looking ahead to the new financial year, the Ministry is poised to embark on a rigorous agenda.

Mr. Speaker, we have several new and ambitious projects for the CEP and Capital Projects this year!

GRAND TURK

  • Grand Turk Market and Welcome Centre – $2.5M
  • Repairs to NJS Francis Park
  • Refurbishment of Lester Williams Park
  • Community Parks Development – North Back Salina Park
  • Refurbishment of West Road Park

SALT CAY

  • Works to Matthew Canal- Salt Cay – $800K
  • Refurbishment of the Cricket Field – $250K

SOUTH CAICOS

  • Improvement to Cockburn Harbour – XSC – $1M
  • Regatta Village – $1M
  • Conch Ground – $1.5M
  • Community Roads – $1.5M

North Caicos

  • Whitby Roads – XNC – $1.14M
  • Renovation of Whitby Community Center – $50K
  • Refurbishment of Hollywood Park – $40K
  • Refurbishment of Horse Stable Beach – $550K
  • Bottle Creek Community Centre – $3.2M

MIDDLE CAICOS:

  • Repairs to Lorimers Community Center – $100K
  • Refurbishment of Bambara Community Centre – $50K
  • Bambara Beach Project – $800K

PROVIDENCIALES:

Leeward and Long Bay (ED5)

  • Community Roads – $350K
  • Upgrade to Leeward Palms Park – $85K
  • Develop Long Bay Walking Park – $100K
  • Speed Tables – $50K

The Bight (ED6)

  • Speed Tables – $50K
  • Construction of Sidewalks $100K
  • Tower Drive Kids Park – $100K
  • Community Parks Development – Juba Sound – $85K
  • Upgrade the Bight Community Park – $650K
  • Community Centre- Bight – $1.5M

Cheshire Hall (ED7)

  • Community Roads – $400K
  • Speed Tables – $75K
  • Construction of Sidewalks $200K
  • Refurbishment of Gustavus Lightbourne Complex – $1.2M

Blue Hills (ED8)

  • Clementina and Fuller Walkin Park – $550K
  • Community Parks Development –Blue Hills – Multipurpose court, kids shaded area, fencing lighting and parking – $150K
  • Water Connections – $100K
  • Construction of Community Entrance Signs $150K
  • Mobile Clinic – Blue Hills – $450K

Five Cays (ED9)

  • Beautification to Main Entrance to Five Cays – $100K
  • Sidewalks – Chalk Sound – $250K
  • Sapodilla Bay Beach Project – $850K

Wheeland and West Caicos (ED10) Awarded/Commenced or Completed

  • Recreational Pavilion – $500K
  • Construction of Community Entrance Signs $100K

Mr. Speaker, the investments we are making today are not expenses; they are the seeds of our future prosperity. Each dollar spent is meticulously planned to yield tangible benefits for our communities. Our infrastructure is the stage upon which the story of our nation’s progress is enacted, and with this budget, we are ensuring that this stage is set for a stellar performance in 2024 and beyond.

In conclusion, the budget allocation for the Ministry of Physical Planning and Infrastructure Development reflects our commitment to promoting sustainable development, enhancing the quality of life for all citizens, and building a resilient infrastructure network for the future. We remain dedicated to efficient resource management, transparent governance, and stakeholder engagement to achieve our nation’s development goals.

Before I yield Mr. Speaker, I wish to reference a familiar scripture Matthew 6:21; “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” How we allocate our resources reflects our priorities and values. Our infrastructure reflects our collective ambition. Through careful planning, strategic investment, and a relentless pursuit of development, we are not just building roads, schools, and shelters, we are building a nation.

I will continue to support the efforts of my PPID Team and work towards a prosperous and sustainable future for the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Thank you.

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Julianna Musgrove Appointed as Deputy Permanent Secretary  

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Office of the Deputy Governor of the Turks and Caicos Islands proudly announces the appointment of Ms. Julianna Musgrove to the post of Deputy Permanent Secretary within the Office of the Deputy Governor.

Ms. Musgrove’s academic journey is marked by excellence and dedication. She earned her Bachelor’s degree with honors in Hos

pitality and Tourism Management from the Turks and Caicos Islands Community College, demonstrating a commitment to academic achievement and professional growth. Currently, she is on the cusp of completing her Master’s degree in Human Resource Management and Development from the University of Salford in the United Kingdom, further enhancing her knowledge and expertise in her chosen field.

With over a decade of leadership experience in learning and development, human resources, and hospitality, Ms. Musgrove brings a wealth of knowledge and skills to her new role. Prior to her transition to the civil service, she served as the Regional Learning and Development Manager at Sandals Resorts International, where she oversaw learning and development operations across multiple Caribbean nations. Her adept leadership skills have been evident in successfully spearheading change initiatives and development programs at an executive level.

Ms. Musgrove’s contributions extend beyond her professional pursuits. She has served as a Governor on the Board of Governors for the Turks and Caicos Islands Community College, where she chaired the Human Resource, Safety, and Compensation sub-committee, demonstrating her commitment to education and community service. Additionally, Ms. Musgrove is an Executive Member of the Turks and Caicos Islands Community College Alumni Association, actively contributing to the growth and development of her alma mater.

Her exceptional achievements have garnered widespread recognition, earning her prestigious accolades such as the 2023 Caribbean Rising Star Award from the International Society of Hospitality Consultants and the Sandals Foundation Sentinel of the Year Award.

Reflecting on her appointment, Ms. Musgrove expressed her gratitude and enthusiasm for the opportunity to serve in her new capacity:

“It is with a profound sense of gratitude and humility that I assume the role of Deputy Permanent Secretary. I am eager to embark on this journey to serve my country with dedication and commitment. My faith in God sustains me, and I am immensely grateful for the unwavering support of my family, mentors, and friends.

This appointment is not just a milestone in my career; it is also a profound responsibility that I embrace wholeheartedly. With great optimism and enthusiasm, I look forward to the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.”

Commenting on her appointment, Deputy Governor and Head of the Public Service, Her Excellency Anya Williams remarked, “It is with great pleasure that I extend congratulations to Ms. Julianna Musgrove on her appointment as Deputy Permanent Secretary within the Office of the Deputy Governor, and I extend a warm welcome to her as she joins the Turks and Caicos Islands Public Service.

As my office continues to forge ahead with various initiatives aimed at enhancing service quality and bolstering our capacity building endeavors, Ms. Musgrove’s role will be instrumental. Working alongside the Permanent Secretary, she will play a pivotal role in the re-establishment of the Training Directorate, spearheading the development of a comprehensive training program tailored to address skill gaps and developmental needs across the Public Service. Additionally, Ms. Musgrove will oversee the Employee Compliance and Appraisal functions, ensuring that performance is meticulously monitored, corrective measures are swiftly implemented, and commendable efforts are duly rewarded.

The appointment of Ms. Musgrove comes at a critical juncture, and her expertise and dedication will undoubtedly fortify our efforts to enhance the services we provide to the public. My office is committed to providing Ms. Musgrove with the support as she embarks on this new chapter, and we eagerly anticipate the positive impact she will undoubtedly make as a valued member of our public service family.

Congratulations on your appointment, Julianna, and welcome to the team!”

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BUDGET ADDRESS BY PREMIER HON. CHARLES WASHINGTON MISICK

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BUDGET ADDRESS 2024/2025

MINISTER OF FINANCE, INVESTMENT, TRADE & PUBLIC POLICY 

HON. C.W. MISICK

APRIL 16, 2024

THEME: DELIVERING FOR YOU…

MORE IN 24

 

Thank you, Mr. Speaker!

A man’s heart devises his way: but the Lord directs his steps. –

Proverbs 16v9

President John F Kennedy said at his inaugural address; “With a good conscience, our only sure reward, with history, the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.” 

 SALUTATIONS AND RECOGNITION

  • Speaker
  • Hon Cabinet Ministers
  • Leader of the Opposition
  • All other Hon. Elected Members
  • Appointed Members
  • Attorney General
  • Distinguished Chaplain
  • Distinguished ladies and gentlemen
  • Distinguished guests in the gallery

To those watching on social media, on television and to the diaspora, thank you for tuning in.

After much delay, it is a joy for us to be back here in NJS Francis Building where the House of Assembly rightfully belongs.

Nathaniel Joseph Selver Francis was one of our greatest sons. He was a fearless warrior, a patriarch and a founding father of this great party and on whose shoulder I stand.

We could bestow on him no greater honour than giving the people’s house and the seat of our democracy his name.

I thank God Almighty and you the people for the honour and privilege, to stand before the country I love, to deliver another budget address in this term of this great PNP administration.

Mr. Speaker, thank you for the stellar role you have played in ensuring the orderly management of the proceedings of this house whether here, or at HJ Robinson High School.

I thank my colleagues and political travellers for your support and your tireless work on behalf of our people.

You are making a difference.

I also wish to acknowledge the work of former Minister of Finance, Investment and Trade, the Hon. E. Jay Saunders. He anchored this very important portfolio for over two years and has ably chaired the Appropriations Committee. He remains an integral team member in the delivery of our promises to the people of our beloved country.

To the Leader of the Opposition, I appreciate the critical parliamentary role you play. We are competitors for the hearts and minds of our people. I thank you for the times you have supported this government’s legislative agenda in the national interest. I appreciate your genuine difference of opinion.

To the Governor’s appointed members! You have made such an invaluable contribution to this House, the people of these Islands and the cause of democracy.

I thank the staff of the House of Assembly who serve with dignity, grace and professionalism.

To the amazing team at the Ministry of Finance, Investment and Trade who go beyond the call of duty. Permanent Secretary, Athenee HarveyBasden, Deputy PS, Nasiya Misick, Budget Director, Ms. Nordia Campbell and your teams and the staff in the Treasury my sincere thanks.

Thanks to the staff of all agencies which operate under the umbrella of the Ministry of Finance, Investment and Trade.

To the staff in the Office of the Premier and Public Policy, and the Strategic Planning and Policy Department led by PS Shonia Thomas-Been, Deputy PS, Lormeka Williams, Director Kathleen Forbes and her team, Director Kimo Tynes and the team in the Communications Directorate, my personal support team, the administrative and ancillary staff who take such good care of us. Thank you.

To all other Accounting Officers, our sincere thanks.

My thanks to the staff in the Attorney General’s Chamber’s especially the drafters who went beyond the call of duty to get the appropriations bill ready.

Mr Speaker, most important are the people we work for.

I extend my sincere gratitude to the people across these islands who keep the government in your prayers, who provide constructive criticism and demand the best from us.

We are privileged to work on your behalf.

I will continue to strive every day to be a good steward of the resources of our country.

I will continue to devote myself to improving the standard of living of our people and getting these beautiful islands as close as possible to developed country status by 2040.

Mr. Speaker, without the love and support of my family, I could not do what I do.

To my defender and chief critic, my dedicated wife, Delthia, my understanding children and my extended family. Thank you.

THE PEOPLE’S CONTRACT

Mr. Speaker, for the last three years, every budget has been rooted in the People’s Contract.

We have honoured the mandate given to us by the people by staying faithful to the promises we made.

We promised to:

  • Put our people first!
  • Put our people at the centre of development!
  • Turn the economy around! and
  • Rebuild the country!

Mr. Speaker, Iet us recall where we are coming from.

On February 19, 2021, the world was facing a pandemic, people were scared, economies were crashing. Worry and despair were the only flavors being served.

My government took an economy that had shrunken. We not only turned it around, but we are fulfilling our promises to the people.

We are delivering!

  • We are creating better paying jobs and more will come on stream with each new development.
  • We are developing high quality and lasting infrastructure.
  • We are creating an immigration system that is reinforced by the new Border Force and will support the development of our Islands.
  • The pillars of the economy are strong.
  • The economy is expanding.
  • Tourism is booming and the number of high-net-worth visitors continues to grow.
  • Investor interest is very high. For the foreseeable future we will have well-resourced development projects.
  • Speaker, one of my greatest joys is that more Turks and Caicos Islanders, helped by targeted concessions are entering the Tourism Industry.

Mr. Speaker, the People’s Contract is crafted around growth and development that are people centered. It puts the welfare of our people first.

Our main focus is to give our people a chance to benefit from the many promises that this country holds for the long term.

In these 38 months, we have laid a strong foundation to advance growth and development and set the TCI on the path to developed country status.

When we took office, we knew we had to change course and give people a lifeline.

When economic circumstances change, the responsible thing for the government to do is to anticipate, adapt and shape a path that will protect and help the people.

Mr. Speaker, this government believes that when hard time comes, we must help our people.

That is why we spent almost 30 million dollars in stimulus grants to help them.

From day one, we implemented policies and programmes to kickstart the economy and those are paying off.

Mr. Speaker, our mission is to build an economy that gives our people access and opportunity.

I stand here today proud because we have fulfilled so many of the promises we made in the People’s Contract.

Mr Speaker, I may sound like a stuck record.

But!

As I have said over and over, given the time we will deliver on every pledge.

This is a party that is delivering for all generations, and we will deliver more in twenty-four!

GLOBAL ECONOMIC CLIMATE

Mr. Speaker, the TCI does not operate in a vacuum. We are part of the wider global economy.

The IMF is forecasting global growth of 3.1 percent in 2024 and 3.2 percent in 2025.

However, it has cautioned that there are risks, including geopolitical tensions such as the Russia/Ukraine war, armed conflict between Israel and Iran and disruptions to shipping in the Red Sea.

The World Bank has a less favorable outlook. It is forecasting that Global growth will slow to 2.4 percent.

The mixed outlook means the TCI, has to be nimble in its policy and decision making.

We have to spend wisely and ensure that our people are protected.

Mr. Speaker, Global inflation is expected to fall to about 5.8% in 2024.

If this forecast holds, we expect that it will have a positive impact on the prices of basic items that our people need.

INFLATION

Mr. Speaker, we endured a once-in-a-century global pandemic.

It was followed by a major international energy crisis, perhaps the worst in 50 years.

Together, they inflicted profound economic consequences on supply chains, energy prices, inflation and interest rates.

Mr. Speaker, the cost of living has increased significantly over the last 3 years. We know that for many people, their pay cheque cannot stretch to meet all of their needs.

One thing that keeps me up at night is the constant quest to find ways to help our people, especially those in the lower middle-income bracket and below the poverty line.

Mr. Speaker, our macro-economic success must translate to human and social development.

It MUST mean well-organized functioning communities, where modern amenities are available, and it MUST mean a better life for all.

This is why helping our people with the cost of living is our government’s number one priority.

Mr. Speaker, that is why my government:

  • Denied the request for a 6% increase on the utility rate. However, we,
  • ⁠Extended the reduction on fuel tax.
  • Extended the exemption for customs duty on the basket of goods.
  • Increased the minimum wage.
  • Implemented the recommendations of the pay and grading review for the civil service, giving all public servants a pay increase.
  • Will commence a salary review of all TCIG statutory bodies immediately.
  • Increased the TCIG pensions by 20%.

 We are delivering for the people and will do more in 24!

 UNEMPLOYMENT

Mr. Speaker, the unemployment rate is trending down. It has moved from 9 percent in 2021, to 6 percent in 2023. We expect it to be around 5 percent this year.

 ECONOMY – WHERE ARE WE?

Mr Speaker our quality of life, and the state of the Turks and Caicos Islands depend on the strength of the economy.

In 2021, when we took office, we implemented a series of strategies and programmes to grow the economy.

By 2022 and 2023, our economy was experiencing a growth spurt, with rates exceeding 12 percent.

And!

Mr Speaker, the projections are, that in this financial year, we will have a continued expansion of our economy driven by high tourist arrivals.

Today the economy of the Turks and Caicos Islands is stronger than ever.

Our policies and programmes are delivering good results. We will do more in 24!

In 2023, we welcomed more than 1.5 million visitors by air and sea.

Air arrivals increased in 2023 to 662,707 visitors, up over 2021 by more than 52 percent.

Mr. Speaker, arrivals by air are up 21.6 percent over the 2019 prepandemic levels. At the same time, the demand for rooms is growing as these islands are among the most desirable destinations in the world.

That is why the redevelopment of the Howard Hamilton International Airport is so critical.

In 2023, we had nearly 925 thousand cruise passengers, an increase of almost 26 percent over 2022.

After completely shutting down during the pandemic, the growth momentum is good.

We expect cruise passengers to surpass pre-pandemic levels in short order.

We will do more in 24 to enhance our brand and sustain revenue from tourism.

 FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENTS

Mr. Speaker, our economic future is looking bright and more certain.

Investor confidence is extremely high.

Foreign Direct investments are flowing at a pace we have never seen before. It is only limited by our ability to accommodate the growing demand.

Members of this Honourable House! This is a different investment climate.

We have the luxury of choosing the right investments and the right partners.

Our goal is to maintain an investment policy that will benefit our people and help build our country for the long term. We want higher paying jobs, entrepreneurial opportunities, knowledge transfer and new technologies.

Projects in varying stages of development valued at over four billion dollars are in the pipeline.

Projects with development agreements or currently under construction are valued at nearly 792 million dollars.

Projects with MOUs in place with the finalization of development agreements in progress are valued at over 2-point -7 billion dollars.

And!

Projects at the due diligence stage have a combined value of nearly 453 million dollars.

We are delivering and will do more in 24.

My team is building an economy that is resilient and strong.

We removed tax holidays from new development agreements.

The old policy of long tax holidays for foreign investors and wealthy individuals has facilitated the transfer of tens of millions of dollars into foreign economies and private pockets.

This Mr. Speaker has deprived the TCI of much-needed funding for people and infrastructure development.

By guaranteeing foreign investors exemption from future taxes, it ties the hands of the government in developing a fair and equitable tax structure.

My government has replaced tax holiday clauses in Development Agreements with an Equilibrium Clause which forces foreign investors to comply with any new taxation regime.

Mr. Speaker, the last PDM administration has underwritten the superprofits of some developers (who shall remain nameless).

The PDM supported the splitting of purchase contracts for the development of condominium resorts, villas and the construction of residences for foreign wealthy individuals. This was in contravention of the spirit of the investment policy.

Mr. Speaker, this is how a split contract works.

One contract is for the sale of the land on which the private purchaser pays stamp duties.

And!

The other is a separate contract for the construction of the building for which the developer pays no stamp duty but enjoys a reduced rate on customs duties.

In the PNP, we put our people first and will collect every dollar that belongs to them.

DIRECT DOMESTIC INVESTMENT

Mr. Speaker, charity begins at home!

My government believes that if we are offering Foreign Investors concessions, we must level the playing field for our Domestic Investors.

In October, last year, Cabinet approved a new National Investment Policy.

Recently, the direct domestic investment framework has been added to the Investment Policy.

It prioritizes domestic investment with the aim of growing the number of local businesses and expanding the pool of beneficiaries of TCIG incentives and concessions.

Mr. Speaker, we believe that concessions are important for the survival of local businesses. They ensure that no player is disadvantaged because of size or lack of access to capital.

The Direct Domestic Investment targets locals already operating within the economy and local entrepreneurs who are considering entering the market.

FINANCIAL SERVICES SECTOR

Mr. Speaker, for a long time we have been looking at the Financial Services Sector as a way to diversify the economy.

But!

The Turks and Caicos is lagging way behind.

We are number 113 of 115 on the list of International Financial Centres competitiveness ranking for 2024.

In this region, Cayman is  at #75 followed by BVI at #88, the Bahamas at #95 and Bermuda #96.

However, those stark statistics will not deter us. We are operationalizing the long-awaited TCI Finance – a sister entity to Invest-TCI to promote and grow the country’s international financial services industry.

The mandate is to develop a focused niche within the IFC marketplace by attracting global talent and recognized brand leaders.

Our goal is to add a second leg to the economy, expand the domestic professional class, raise the GDP per capita and improve economic sustainability.

Mr. Speaker, the construction and real estate sectors are booming.

Everywhere you turn a new building is going up.

There is a solid pipeline of recently concluded developments and ongoing projects.

Approvals have been given for 20 developments with a combined value of 572 million dollars.

In 2022 and 2023, the real estate industry did exceptionally well, and the earnings were way up.

Mr. Speaker, because of the splitting of purchase contracts for land and the construction by foreign wealthy individuals, which the PDM supported, the government is earning less for stamp duty. That will change.

The growth in industries, including restaurants and hotels, real estate, and transportation, were mostly driven by robust international demand.

 IMPORT RECEIPTS

Mr. Speaker, nothing tells a more accurate story about development and construction than our Import Receipts.

Total Merchandise Imports for Calendar Year 2023 were valued at 808 million dollars.

This is an increase of approximately 17.6 percent over 2022.

And!

2024 is looking equally strong.

During the first three months of 2024, Merchandise Imports increased by 14- percent over the same period in 2023.

In the first quarter of 2023, imports were valued at just over $185M.

This year it is $211M.

Total Revenues collected for the financial year 2023/24 was 452 million dollars.

This exceeded the original forecast by $36.6M.

We have maintained a resilient Cash Flow position and strong Cash Reserves.

Due to the country’s strong performance, our government has not had to draw down on any major pre-approved debt facilities at our disposal.

In fact, Mr. Speaker, we have increased our reserves and rainy-day funds.

The National Wealth Fund has grown to $58 million.

It has:

ü $31 million in the Stabilization Fund ü $9 million in the Infrastructure Competitiveness Fund ü  $4 million in the Heritage Fund ü $7 million in the Citizen’s Empowerment Fund and  ü $7 Million in the Mortgage Corporation Fund.

Mr. Speaker, we have been paying our own way with little reliance on borrowed money.

We borrowed less than $1- million and that was specifically for technical assistance.

Mr. Speaker, Members of this Honourable House, you will recall that there was a significant contraction of the economy in 2020 due to the pandemic.

I am proud to report that since we came to office in 2021, the GDP of the TCI has grown consistently.

Boosted by a booming tourism industry, the real GDP grew by a massive

13.7 percent in 2023.

Mr. Speaker, the economy of the Turks and Caicos Islands is larger than previously estimated.

The TCI has a higher GDP per capita and an economy that is valued at over 1.7 billion dollars in real terms.

Local analysts and the international rating agencies believe that if the strong performance in the tourism, construction, and real estate sectors remains, Real GDP will continue to grow by about 4 percent in 2024.

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to report that on March 27, Standard and Poor’s Global Ratings revised up its outlook on the Turks and Caicos Islands.

S&P moved our rating from stable to positive and affirmed our BBB+ Foreign Currency LT Credit rating.

S&P is of the view that our economy will continue to grow solidly, propelled by a strong tourism sector.

It further states that if this growth materializes in line with its forecast, they could revise upwards the economic assessment of the TCI.

Mr. Speaker this is what S&P Global said:

“We expect Turks and Caicos Islands’ (TCI) tourism-dominated economy to continue growing well, support fiscal surpluses, and enable the territory to build financial buffers, all of which could enhance economic resilience during times of stress.

We have revised our external assessment on TCI to incorporate the longer time series of

external data now available from the TCI Statistics Department, and which reflects moderate gross external financing needs and a small net creditor position”.

The positive outlook reflects the possibility that sustained economic growth, alongside solid fiscal and external indicators, would further bolster TCI’s resilience in the face of shocks and could lead to an upgrade.

Mr. Speaker, that is a testimony to the consistent growth in the GDP and the strength of our economy today and in the near future.

Mr. Speaker, the TCI is one of the best performing economies in the Caribbean.

Our team has worked hard to manage the economy in the face of global challenges.

But Mr. Speaker, we have NOT done so alone.

We have had great support from our people and our many partners in the Private sector.

At every step in the last three years, you have stepped up to the plate when we needed you to.

THANK YOU!

EXPENDITURE 2023/2024

Based on the unaudited Expenditure of the last financial year, our government spent $389.2M.

This was $47.8M below budget.

Just $29M of the 57.8-million allocated for the capital programme was spent.

Mr. Speaker, we must face the hard facts.

We have a capacity problem.

We are facing tremendous challenges in developing and implementing big ticket projects.

Public servants are working hard, but the onerous processes, insufficient resources, inadequate technology, outdated laws, an unwillingness to adapt by some and bureaucracy are frustrating delivery.

That must change.

In this budget, we have allocated 300- thousand dollars for a procurement ordinance review.

We have also allocated 1.8 million in the recurrent budget for project initiation and project development plans.

Our goal is to develop project delivery plans a year in advance.

When done this way, all the essential components of the project would have been determined and the project ready for the procurement process immediately after passage of the budget.

Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition in a previous debate accused the government of promoting a welfare state.

But!

Mr. Speaker, we believe that it is our duty to prevent prolonged poverty and give those burdened by hardship a hand up.

That is why we have consistently increased our social spending such as day care and after school programmes.

We will do more in 24!

In FY 2021/2022 just over 3.6 million was spent on social development.

We have increased the allocation every year and for 2024/2025, we are spending almost 10.2 million dollars.

Mr. Speaker, we believe in fairness. If helping the vulnerable and those facing hardships and needing a hand up is what defines a welfare state, then this government is guilty as charged.

After all, fairness means providing money to help the poorest among us, the sick, the vulnerable and the elderly.

The PNP will always look after you.

That is the right thing to do.

And, Mr. Speaker, that is the commitment we made in People’s Contract, We will always put you first! 

Mr. Speaker, my government’s measure of fairness goes beyond the amount of money we give to those who need help.

More importantly, fairness to us is supporting people out of poverty, not trapping them in a cycle of dependence.

Mr. Speaker, our record on providing opportunities and support for our people is unrivaled.

Mr. Speaker, this is a government that cares!

This is a government that is delivering!

We will do more in 24!

PAY AND GRADING

We also believe that those who work for the government must be adequately paid for their service.

In the last financial year, we spent big on making the lives of our workers and people better. These include:

  • $122M in Personnel Costs including wages.

Mr. Speaker, I wish to share some of the increases in the recent pay and grading exercise.

  • 57% increase in basic pay for Principals
  • 42% increase in basic pay for Vice Principals
  • 25% increase in basic pay for Graduate Teachers
  • 27% increase in basic pay for Registered/Community Health Nurses
  • 28% increase in basic pay for Border Force Officers
  • 28% increase in basic pay for Prison Officers
  • 28% increase in basic pay for Fire Safety Officers
  • 22% increase in basic pay for Social Workers
  • 100% increase in Tactical Allowances for the Police

TCIG PENSION FUND

On April 1, 2022 the Turks and Caicos Government implemented a new Pension and Gratuity program for all post 1992 employees.

  • Since its implementation, a total of $200K was paid to 21 employees in 2022/23 and a total of $692K was paid to 57 retiring or resigning employees during the financial year 2023/24.
  • On March 31, 2024, the Turks and Caicos Islands Pension Fund had a closing balance of $21.2m. This includes $7m in contributions made during the year by both employers and employees of the TCI Public Service and Statutory Bodies.
  • Speaker, the Government is in the final stages of contracting an administrator to manage the Pension fund.

We also spent:

ü $35M in Transfers to NHIP  ü $26M in Hospital Provisional Charges  ü $8.9M in Land Acquisition  ü $9.7M on Social Welfare

EXPENDITURE 2024/25 ESTIMATES

Mr. Speaker and fellow countrymen, we expect continued growth and expansion of the economy for the near to medium term.

We will continue to spend wisely and focus on the projects that will promote the development of our islands and prepare us for 2040.

Importantly, Mr. Speaker, we will spend more on social programmes that will help the poor and the middle class improve their standard of living.

Mr. Speaker, this year, we plan to spend $485 million in total.

This is an increase of more than $48.3 million over last year.

  • $413.5M represents Recurrent Expenditure, such as Salaries, Wages, Goods and Services.
  • $7.3M is for non-recurrent expenses

And!

  • $63.7M for Capital Development, such and land, acquisition.

We anticipate an operating deficit of $19.5 million which will be covered from reserves of prior years.

The government’s overarching priority continues to be long-term fiscal sustainability.

However, in the medium term, we are focused on critical areas such as:

  • Advancing vital National Infrastructure Development, including airports, ports, roads, bridges, electrification, healthcare facilities, educational institutions, judicial infrastructure including courts, and remand and detention centres.
  • Implementing Social Welfare Programmes to safeguard vulnerable segments of the population from economic uncertainties and challenges.
  • Easing the Cost of Living.
  • Strengthening National Security.
  • Enhancing Solid Waste Management practices.
  • Preserving our Environmental Integrity.
  • Expanding access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy sources.
  • Aligning the National Scholarship Programme with the National Skills Audit of 2017.

And!

  • Facilitating Affordable Housing Initiatives to ease the housing shortage.

Mr. Speaker, the budget is divided into 10 critical areas based on the Classification of the Functions of Government (COFOG) as defined by the United Nations Statistics Division.

  1. General Public Services

The largest allocation of $117.4M will support the public service operations. Including the offices of the Governor, Deputy Governor Office of the Premier, financial and fiscal affairs and the House of Assembly.

  1. Health

Mr. Speaker, the health of our people remains a priority for our government. We have a healthcare system that is better than most in our region. But it needs repair and must be more comprehensive, including a focus on geriatric care. We reiterate our determination to build a healthcare system that prioritizes the needs of all our people.

We want our people especially family-island communities, to have more choices, including access to tele-health, lower prices and better care.

We will not achieve the development goals, unless we have a population that leads healthy, balanced and more productive lives.

We continue to have concerns over the healthcare contract with InterHealth Canada (IHC) which has not delivered what we expected and for which value for money is questionable.

We are implementing a better contract management system that will hold all stakeholders more accountable and improve the delivery of care.

We are allocating just over $90.5M to health care delivery.

Our focus remains the provision of quality care.

  1. Economic Affairs

Mr. Speaker, $86.5M has been allocated to Economic Affairs. This will fund important areas such as:

  • Infrastructure development, including land acquisition
  • Tourism product enhancement
  • Agriculture
  • Catastrophic risk insurance
  • Environmental and coastal resources
  • Energy and utilities
  • Media and communication
  1. Public Order and Safety

Mr. Speaker, in recent times criminals have wreaked havoc on our communities.

My government sees the safety and security of our people as a sacred responsibility.  When crime threatens the security and safety of our people, especially our children, we will do everything in our power to find and stop the producers and perpetrators of violence.

Mr. Speaker, we have spent millions of dollars to expand and equip the police force, the border force and the TCI Regiment. Currently the Regiment has 20 permanent staff and 40 Reserves. They are currently recruiting 30 more reservists which will bring their complement to 90.

If we had not taken the steps we took, and invested so much in our national security, I believe things would have been far worse.

$71.6M has been allocated to public order and safety for this financial year. It will cover all agencies, including the Police and the courts to deal with crime and rehabilitation.

Of this amount:

  • $39.0 M will go towards Police Services.
  • $20.9M is for the Law Courts, AG Chambers, Director of Public Prosecution, and the Labour Tribunal.
  • $19.2M is for Customs and Border Protection, Immigration, and Repatriations.
  • $7.7M for Prisons, Correctional, and Rehabilitation Services.
  • $1.5M dollars has been allocated for Fire and Rescue.

Mr. Speaker, our investments are reaping benefits.

  • A New Gangs, Drugs and Guns Unit has been operating since May last year. ü Since then, 17 persons have been charged with offences including gang membership, possession of firearms and drugs.
  • Since January last year, 27 firearms have been taken off the streets.
  • Last year we had over 6-hundred drug seizures at Howard Hamilton International Airport. ü Recently, 61 pounds of narcotics were seized during a search on a vessel that illegally landed in Providenciales.

Mr. Speaker, we are delivering and will do more in 24!

  1. Education

The allocation to Education is $58.7M. No government in the history of this country has done more to modernize the education system, including catering to special needs/and differently abled students.

We are creating modern and better schools that are equipped to prepare our people with the skills, knowledge, experience, and confidence to lead productive and meaningful lives.

Our people must have the access to develop the technical and other capacities to help drive sustainable development across all islands.  Free community college, more scholarships and support are intended to promote higher education.

  • We are also focused on improving early childhood and special education. And! will continue to invest in primary, secondary, tertiary, and vocational education.
  • Speaker, in keeping with our thrust to give the people who need it more support, we implemented the Early Start Daycare Assistance Programme which supports 134 children (0 to 3 years old) in 20 Daycare Centers. This programme will cost $686k. Mr. Speaker, we can never put a monetary value to caring for our children.
  • We are spending $770K on the Social Enrichment Academic

Afterschool Programme. This will benefit 1,707 students.

And! Mr. Speaker!

  • We are launching a $1.4M nutritional programme for students this financial year.

Mr. Speaker! Our young people, especially those who are vulnerable because of their circumstances, need special attention. In addition to the free tuition at the community college, we are looking at programmes that allow high school graduates to earn a stipend while learning a skill.

  1. Social Protection

Mr. Speaker, the good book of Proverbs tells us: “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord and he will repay him for his deed.”

Let me repeat. This PNP government is determined to take care of the poor and most vulnerable in this country.

Mr. Speaker, we can speak about the strength of our economy and the development of infrastructure but that means little if the lives and the standard of living of our people are not improved.

Our people must reap the rewards and benefit from the bounty of this land.

You can see our commitment by our increased support for meaningful social programmes in each budget cycle.

In this budget, we carved out $26.9M to help the poor and vulnerable and take care of our pensioners.

We are very conscious of those who still live on the margins and need a helping hand.

We want to ensure that families with young and special needs children and the elderly get the support they need.

The additional funding will ensure that:

  • Households with single parents, special needs and disabled children can get $500 for each child monthly for up to three children.
  • Vulnerable persons over 70 years old receive 1-thousand dollars monthly if they have no income. Pensioners who receive less than 1-thousand dollars will get a top up. ü Foster Care families receive $300 weekly per child for up to three children per household.

Mr. Speaker, we can fund the increases in the NIB Pensions.

All pensions awarded prior to March 2021 were increased ranging from 2.1% to 13.2%.

We will continue to examine the socio-economic conditions and adjust support where necessary.

  1. Estate Management, Housing and Community Amenities

We will spend $18.6M on Housing and Community Amenities.

The increased allocation will support Estate Management, Water Services, including water treatment and distribution to Grand Turk and Salt Cay.

It will also fund improvements to housing and community renewal, as well as District Administrations.

Mr. Speaker, for every human being, a safe place to call home should be a right.

For every family, home ownership is an important part of their wellbeing and stability.

As new hotel rooms come on stream and more persons come here for work, the demand for affordable housing will increase.

Our new housing policy is designed to improve the quality and quantity of housing supply throughout the Islands.

The aim is to provide a minimum of 600 new housing solutions annually.

Mr. Speaker, individuals and developers are building houses and apartments and helping us reach that goal.

Last year, the Planning Department received applications for:

  • 293 Stand-alone Homes
  • 84 Apartment Buildings with a total of 453 Units

From January to April 12, 2024, applications were received for:

108 Stand-alone homes

31 Apartment Buildings with 360 units

This is a strong indication of confidence in the economy and the empowerment of our people through concessions.

We put people first!

Mr. Speaker, let me recap.

Since January last year, planning has had 401 applications for standalone homes and 115 applications for apartment buildings for a total of 813 units.

We are making progress, but we will do more in 24.

We are engaging with the private sector to find different solutions to meet all the needs of our people.

These will include TCI Islander home ownership, rental support for lowincome families, and immigrant housing.

This will be achieved through new construction, upgrading of housing in established communities and improving infrastructure where necessary.

Mr Speaker, our first priority is to ensure that  the housing needs of Turks and Caicos Islanders are met.

We are coming up with different ways to fix this problem, including giving financial support to islanders to upgrade their homes.

Nearly 300 grants of between 10 thousand to 50 thousand dollars will be disbursed.

Work should begin in the first quarter of this fiscal year.

Contractors were recently approved and will receive their scope of work in short order.

TC Islanders and BOTC are entitled to stamp duty exemptions and customs concessions.

Those who want more information on the requirements can log on to www.exemptions.gov.tc.

Mr. Speaker, we have started work on a Mortgage Corporation to benefit Status Holders who need loans to build or buy homes.

In last year’s budget, 7 million dollars was allocated and this year, a further $13 million is proposed. An amendment is proposed to accommodate this when Committee of Supply meets after the debate.

We will continue to inject money until the fund reaches 50 million dollars.

Mr. Speaker, we are making good progress on  operationalising the credit Union.

Central Finance Facility Co-operative Society of Trinidad and Tobago has been contracted to set up the credit union.

They will:

  • Lead the acquisition of licenses.
  • Handle the roll out of basic product offerings.
  • Find suitable facilities.
  • Develop a risk management framework including internal controls, policies, and procedures.

In 2022/23, we allocated 7 million dollars to seed the fund.

This is a game changer for so many, especially small business owners who may not have collateral but need working capital.

  1. Defense

Mr. Speaker, the beautiful waters that surround these islands have given us so much. Whether salt, conch, fish and the strength of our modern economy, Tourism.

But Mr. Speaker, these open waters that surround us leave us vulnerable to illegal immigration, the illegal drug trade, poaching, firearm smuggling, and other illicit activities.

We must always be one step ahead of them.

Our goal is to facilitate the legitimate flow of people and goods, and to protect our people from harm.

Over $9.6M will be spent on the National Security Secretariat which includes the Contingent Military Force/TCI Regiment and disaster management.

  1. Environmental Protection

Mr. Speaker, while our economy is strong, we are too aware that a catastrophic natural disaster can wipe out all our gains and cause devastation.

It is in our interest and long-term survival to:

  • protect our environment and marine life.
  • Promote sustained and sustainable inclusive development.
  • Protect our biodiversity.
  • And act to mitigate climate change.

We have allocated $3.1M to the Department Environment Coastal Resource, DECR to fortify the TCI and make us more resilient to natural disasters,

Mr. Speaker, we are about to launch a Tourism Carrying Capacity (CC) model for the Turks and Caicos Islands.

It is the first comprehensive tourism public tool of its kind to monitor and manage the impacts of the tourism industry in the region.

The project aims to provide stakeholders with valuable indicators for crafting sustainable policies and strategies, alongside development.

It considers 16 sectors to assess the socio-economic, cultural, and environmental impacts of tourism.

A dashboard will be made accessible to the public to monitor and evaluate key aspects of sustainable tourism practices in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

  1. Culture 

$1.3 million has been allocated to cultural development, and community activities.

MAJOR PRIORITY INITIATIVES

Mr. Speaker, the main spending priorities for the public service are:

  • $157.3M for staff costs, including adjustments for the pay and grading exercise. This is an increase of approximately $30.7 million compared to the previous year.
  • The new expenditure will give us 28 new positions. 10 to the Border Force and 10 new marines to increase permanent staff in the TCI Regiment from 21 to 31. The remaining 8 staff will be placed across the rest of the public sector.
  • $3.5 million is being provided for the pay and grading exercise of subvention-supported statutory bodies.
  • $3.1 million for the Senior Citizens’ Financial Assistance Programme.
  • $1.4 million will cover an increase of 20 percent for pensioners and former legislators.
  • $900K will support MSME Investment, which includes funding for training programs, technical assistance, and opportunities for business development.
  • $6 million for the Community Enhancement Projects/Works Programme across all islands.

These funds will support and maintain public facilities and strengthen activities within the District Commissions.

  • $1.5M will be added to the Social Welfare allocation for a total of $10.1 million.
  • An additional 300K for the Prison Reforms and the Juvenile Intervention and Diversionary Programme to review the prison resourcing model within the Department of Correctional Services.
  • An additional 800K to Culture and Heritage to preserve societal identity, enhance education and awareness, stimulate economic growth, promote social cohesion, and preserve diverse human history and traditions.
  • $500K more is allocated for Improving Disaster Resilience.

This will be used to procure equipment, office space, and cooling systems to accommodate specific items during a disaster.

  • An additional $800K will support additional staff and enhance the growth and capability of the TCI Regiment. This will strengthen the islands’ security against illicit activities.
  • $3.7 million for the Border Force to bolster border security and enhance the capacity to combat various illicit activities.
  • $500K more to Border and Immigration Services to implement the labour market survey system.
  • $2M more to the Ministry of Finance, Investment and Trade to convert government from cash accounting system to an accrual basis of accounting.
  • $700K for the Sports Commission to implement new programmes.

And!

  • $1.5 million for the school nutrition programme.

 PUBLIC SECTOR INVESTMENT PROGRAMME

Mr. Speaker, the Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP) or Capital Expenditure will receive $19.7M for new spending.   

The new projects will be financed through available government resources and are aligned with the priority of the government.

Many are labour intensive infrastructure projects that will create employment and provide income for residents.

There are two national projects, the National Identification System and the Digitalization of Border Services.

3.7 million has been allocated to fund the National Identification System.

This ID will support the rollout of e-government services and the issuance of ID Smartcards is progressing as scheduled.

This allocation will fund the procurement of a card vendor, the cost to design and build a national population registry and expenses associated with data protection legislation.

We expect that the cards will be available by the first quarter of 2025.

The National ID:

  • Will provide simple and secure identification of individuals.
  • Means that only one card is needed to prove the identity of residents.
  • Eliminates the need for verification of a person’s authenticity and legal status with multiple documents.
  • Gives all residents a personal unique number, which will be printed and stored on the ID Smartcard.

The card will provide access to a person’s identity information for all public and private organizations legally entitled.

Will facilitate electronic signing and information decryption.

12.6 million has been allocated over a three-year period for the digitization of the Border Services.

Mr. Speaker, we have ensured that the capital programme brings some improvement to each island. Grand Turk and Salt Cay-

  • Construction of West Road and Pond Street Bridges – $650K
  • Construction of drains and site work at the Helena Jones Robinson High School and remediation works on the Ponds. – $3.6 M
  • Upgrading of roads, bridges, and ponds such as Mission Folly and West Road – $3M
  • Grand Turk Market and Welcome Centre – $1M
  • Matthew Canal works, Salt Cay – $800K

South Caicos

  • Improvements to Cockburn Harbour – $500K
  • Solar Street Lights – $250K
  • Redevelopment of the Conch Ground Facility $1.5M
  • Redevelop Regatta Village -$1M
  • Community Road Repairs – $3.5 M

North and Middle Caicos

  • Renovation of the Bambara Beach Vendor Market – $750K
  • Solar streetlights – $250K
  • Whitby Roads – $1.1 M
  • Renovate and refurbish the Horse Stable Beach Community Park – $500K
  • Bottle Creek Community Centre -$1.5M

Providenciales

  • New drainage and other improvement work -$3.4M
  • Pave and repair roads – $4.9M.
  • Upgrade recreational parks in Blue Hills, Kew Town, Five Cays, and the Bight – $500K
  • Leeward and Long Bay community roads and solar lights – $500K
  • Community Centre for the Bight – $1.5M
  • Solar streetlights for the Bight – $250K
  • Refurbishing of the Gustavus Lightbourne Sports Complex roof and floor- $800K
  • Road works in Kew Town, including pedestrian crossing – $350K
  • Solar streetlights for Kew Town – $250K
  • Way finder signage for Blue Hills – $150K
  • Solar streetlights for Blue Hills – $250K
  • Mobile Clinic for Blue Hills – $300K
  • Sapodilla Bay in Five Cay – $850K
  • Solar streetlights for Sapodilla Bay – $250K
  • Paving of roads in Wheeland – $500K

Solar streetlights and recreational pavilion for Wheeland– $750K

Mr. Speaker, the PSIP for FY 24/25 includes projects that started in the last financial year. For some of these projects, there were no tender take-up and for others, the tenders received did not satisfy the evaluation criteria.

 SUBVENTION SUPPORT

Mr. Speaker, subvention support excluding NHIP is just under 34.8 million dollars.

For NHIP, the allocation is just under 35.5 million dollars.

SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT SITE

Mr. Speaker! It has been a long time coming!

My government has taken firm action to reduce and eliminate, over time, the hazardous fires which have plagued the people of Wheeland and its environs.

A three-year contract has been signed with local company TCI Green Ecological Corporation to manage and transform the waste disposal site into a modern landfill.

This contract will lead to regular garbage collection and ensure proper and safe disposal.

This is a win for the people who have suffered from toxic smoke over the years.

This is the first step in Modernising waste management not only in Providenciales but across the TCI.

To protect the land fill from scavengers and stray animals, a perimeter fence is being erected. Additionally, the road around the landfill has been completed giving trucks and other service vehicles better access.

To collect data for policy development, a weight bridge has been installed to give a more accurate assessment of the amount of waste being generated.

As we seek to give the people healthier communities, air quality monitors are being installed to test the surrounding environment.

We are working for our people and we will do more in 24!

 FINANCING THE BUDGET

Estimates of Revenue

Mr. Speaker, I have outlined a large spending package for this financial year.

Our revenue is earned mostly from the tourism, construction, real estate, and immigration sectors as well as customs and stamp duties.

We expect the very high levels of tourist arrivals to continue.

I thank our Tourism partners for their imagination, innovation, and commitment to the destination.

The quality of their properties and their high levels of service have placed the TCI among the top destinations in the world.

They have helped make our Tourism brand strong and resilient.

We will continue to work closely with them to improve and expand the sector.

Our goal is the same… to increase both long-stay visitors and cruise passengers.

We are also very happy with the pace of development within the construction sector.

Based on the trend, in the first quarter of this calendar year, we expect healthy increases in hotel & restaurant tax, imports, and in customs processing fees.

Estimated Revenue is expected to be – $465.5 million, an increase of $13.5 million over the unaudited estimates for 2023-2024.

Of this, Recurrent Revenues such as fees, duties and taxes will net about $463million.

Non-recurrent receipts, to include Capital Receipts and Grants from External Donors as well as earnings from the sale of lands will account for another $2.5million.

Mr. Speaker, the biggest contributor to the government’s coffers is:

  • Accommodation Tax – $119.6 million. This is followed closely by:
  • Import Duties – $112.5 million
  • Other Customs Duties – $ 38.8million
  • Stamp Duty on Land Transactions -$50 million
  • Work Permit – $42.9 million
  • Excess Revenue from Ports and Sea Travel Taxes – $11million
  • Fuel Tax – $ 10.9million
  • Vehicles and Driver’s License Fees – $7.9 million
  • Business and Banking Related Receipts -$7.3 million
  • Other Receipts -$54.2 million

INFRASTRUCTURE

15  YEAR INFRASTRUCTURE PIPELINE

Mr. Speaker physical infrastructure is the backbone of a nation’s social, economic, and environmental well-being.

It is a critical component for the smooth operation of the modern, first world economy to which we aspire by 2040.

We must be proactive in delivering the critical building blocks for a comprehensive infrastructure network to facilitate growth, ensure the prosperity of our economy and the well-being of our people.

This is a priority that must be above partisan divide.

The Leader of the Opposition has already signaled his agreement in this regard.

Mr. Speaker, today I officially call on the LOO to join me in early May to co-sponsor a resolution to establish a 15-year infrastructure pipeline – leading to 2040.

That would indicate, that regardless of electoral success or defeat, we will remain committed to a unified goal of a modern infrastructure system.

AIRPORTS and PORTS

 AIRPORT UPGRADING

To compete effectively in the global tourist market, our airports must be kept in the best condition to handle both commercial and private aircraft traffic.

Eric Arthur Airport Middle Caicos

The terminal building has been renovated and will be tendered for lease during the course of the year.  Further aerodrome improvements are under consideration in 2024/25

Clifford Gardiner Airport, North Caicos

23 million will be spent over 3 years on a new terminal building, resurfacing of the Runway and a new perimeter fence.

Norman B. Saunders Snr. International Airport South Caicos

10.3 million is already spent with an additional 5 million to complete exterior works including a car park and lighting. To return the airport to full security compliance, another 1.2 million is being spent to repair the perimeter fence. The airport is functional except for the completion of the perimeter fence and this should be completed by August 2024. JAGS McCartney International Airport Grand Turk

1.1 million has been spent to repair the terminal which is now completed and 3 million to construct a Fire Hall and Combined Services building and 4.29 million for the perimeter fencing.

The Leon H. Wilson Airport in Salt Cay

The LHW airport will get an Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting Vehicle.

In addition, at ALL AIRPORTS: ü New seating, stanchions, and trollies have been installed.

ü Road and building signage have been procured.

HOWARD HAMILTON INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

Mr. Speaker, we have outgrown the Howard Hamilton International Airport, our main gateway into the country.

The redevelopment, modernization, and expansion of the facilities are both a national priority and an emergency.

Interim measures are being taken to expand and prolong the life of the existing facility while plans are being advanced for the development of a premier world class terminal.

A new airside canopy which will provide better security and shelter for the public should be completed by September.

Construction continues on the Control Tower and Combined Service Building. This should be completed in November.

Other major upgrades include: ü A new Airline office complex and the new Staff break room. ü Twelve new self-check kiosks and a Common Use System.  ü Upgrade of bathrooms in the international arrivals area ü Carpeting of the international departure upstairs area and new flooring for domestic departure

  • New Air Conditioning Units in the international departure and arrivals
  • New carousel belts ü An additional security lane to help ease congestion ü Painting the terminal and general beautification including landscaping.
  • $852K has been allocated in this budget for Radar Surveillance with the goal of integrating radar surveillance and traffic control.

Mr. Speaker, the redevelopment of the HHIA has completed the prequalification phase for bidders.

5 applicants have been shortlisted for the Invitation to Tender stage of the process.

The five applicants are renowned airport operators who together with their local partners are progressing to the next stage.

A Preferred Bidder should be chosen before the end of this fiscal year. This is a big deal! This will be the largest single infrastructure investment ever! We are working for our people and will do more in 24!

PORTS

Mr. Speaker! We can be proud of the work of our Port Authority to create a modern port system.

This is a major plank of our strategy to spur economic diversification, job creation, global engagement, and connectivity.

For 2024, 20.6 million dollars has been allocated with Phase One expected to be completed in early 2025. This will include:

  • The construction of a new pier which can accommodate two vessels at the same time.
  • Phase Two, which involves the construction of a second pier, will begin early in 2025.
  • The new port office building will be completed at the end of July within budget and on time.
  • We are accelerating the work with appraisal ongoing for phases three and four as well as the fuel mooring components.
  • We are transforming the Bellfield Landing into a tourism Hub and commercial port for North and Middle Caicos.
  • The Bellfield Landing boat slips were commissioned in early 2024.
  • In this budget 600- thousand has been provided for phase one of the transformation of Cedar Park into a community waterfront park.
  • 400 thousand has been allocated to refurbish the main berth in Grand Turk.

NIB

Mr. Speaker, the 2024/2025 NIB budget has been designed in keeping with its mission “To be fiscally prudent in the Provision of Dependable, Transparent and Excellent Social Security Services to the Aged, Working Population and Dependents, of the Turks & Caicos Islands and its People”.

The estimated Contribution Income for the financial year 2024/2025 is $69.2M.

This is $12.4M more than last year’s estimates.

In keeping with the Actuarial recommendations, the contribution rate will increase by 1% during the period.

The estimated income from Investment is $6.9M.

Total expenditure on benefits for the financial year 2024/2025 is estimated to be $40M. This is a $4M increase over last year.

GAMING COMMISSION

Since transitioning to a Statutory Body in January 2021, the Turks and Caicos Islands Gaming Commission has shown robust performance.

In 2021, just over $2.1 million was collected and the Commission is on pace to collect over $7.3million at the end of the 23/24 financial year.

In addition to its supervision of the gaming sector, the Commission has employed a Responsible Gaming Coordinator who works closely with all gaming operators to promote responsible gaming.

IMMIGRATION

Mr. Speaker, we sit at the doorsteps of the worst security threat in the Western Hemisphere for decades. Our neighbour, Haiti.

The UN says violence-torn Haiti needs up to 5-thousand international police “to help tackle the catastrophic gang violence”.

Mr. Speaker, the interception in our waters or arrival on our islands of irregular Haitian migrants (potentially including gang members) have been made more acute because of the ongoing violence forcing thousands of Haitians to flee.

Mr. Speaker, Haiti is facing the worse humanitarian crisis since the Haitian Earthquake in 2010.

The IMO is calling on neighbouring countries to not return Haitians under current circumstances.

The TCI cannot accommodate this call! It is an existential threat to our democracy and way of life.

With the support of Operation Bahamas Turks and Caicos, OPBAT we have stepped up surveillance of our borders and are intercepting illegal sloops filled with migrants from Haiti.

We are detaining, processing and repatriating irregular immigrants but it is costing us dearly.

Over the last year, we repatriated over 4-thousand 8-hundred migrants.

That cost us 5.5 million dollars.

In this budget, we have allocated $7.2 million to help us cover the costs associated with irregular immigration. The Minister will expound further on this area.

CONSTITUTIONAL ADVANCEMENT

Mr. Speaker, the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands are proud and determined.

We are very proud of our economic accomplishments and financial independence.

We believe that the time has come for us to have a greater say in our governance and domestic affairs.

Out of 34 requests for changes to the constitution, the UK has agreed to 27.

This includes requiring the Governor to act with or on the advice of the Premier/Leader of the Opposition on non-special responsibilities. These amendments are expected to take effect in the coming months subject to Order in Council from the Privy Council.

Critically among them are:

  • The House of Assembly will now become a Parliament. Members will correctly be designated as MPs.
  • All House members must be elected. Our people will elect all of their political representatives.
  • The term in office will increase from four to five years.
  • Responsibility for international Finance will be assigned to a member of the Cabinet.
  • The provision for a ninth cabinet minister
  • Advance voting for vulnerable groups
  • Constitutional recognition of the Chief Justice as head of the Judiciary
  • Constitutional recognition of the National Security Council
  • Constitutional recognition for the TCI Regiment
  • Constitutional recognition for the National Crest
  • Changes to the composition of the Electoral Boundaries Commission
  • Changes in the composition of the Judicial Services Commission
  • Accommodation for referenda-based legislation
  • Establishment of an international centre for Dispute Resolution
  • The establishment of a constitutional commission
  • Establishment for a Police and Defence Services Commission
  • No disqualification as Member of Parliament if born outside the Islands but otherwise qualify as status holder at birth

Mr. Speaker, when we work together, we can achieve so much more for the people.

CROWN LANDS

Mr. Speaker, the reform of the way Crown Lands are distributed is well underway.

Through policy, legislation and regulations, the reform will facilitate greater access to land at more affordable prices.

We are transforming our nation’s land administration system, and the Crown Land Unit is being restructured into a National Land Secretariat, NLS.

Responsibility for the NLS will sit jointly with the Offices the Governor and the Premier.

The model will be similar to the National Security Secretariat.

We are creating a more strategic, operational and policy direction to achieve efficiency in managing our valuable land resources.

The National Land Secretariat will be headed by a Permanent Secretary, who will spearhead this transformative initiative.

The PS will be supported by the Commissioner of Lands and four Directors. We expect this leadership team to usher in a new era of effectiveness and innovation.

Central to the mission of the National Land Secretariat is the reform of the Crown Land Management system by using technology to improve efficiency and effectiveness.

We have made changes in the reform of land administration, driven by the implementation of recommendations arising from the Crown Land Review (2022).

Over the last year, we have also made good progress in making access to land easier.

I have spoken about this in my last budget address and most recently at the State of the State address in February.

Mr. Speaker, to ease the chronic housing shortage, we will make some parcels of Crown land available for housing development.

We will amend the Crown Land Ordinance to permit disposing of the freehold interest in Crown Land to commercial developers, where the land is being utilized for residential purposes.

$2.4 million has been allocated under the capital programme to develop a comprehensive implementation plan for the remaining recommendations arising from the Crown Land Review.

One of key areas of focus will be reviewing and identifying more efficient ways to allocate residential land for Turks and Caicos Islanders.

The aim is to abolish the ballot system and prioritize allocation based on genuine need and an equitable eligibility criterion.

This strategic shift reflects our commitment to promoting equity and addressing the housing needs of Turks and Caicos Islanders in a more targeted fashion.

We are delivering for you and will do more in 24!

INFORMAL SETTLEMENTS

Informal settlements and irregular construction have been major problems for years.

There are 47 informal settlements across the TCI: 37 in Providenciales, 9 in Grand Turk and 1 in North Caicos.

The Crown Land Unit continues to work in collaboration with the Informal Settlement Unit and has undertaken reclamation activities primarily in the Five Cays and Blue Hills area.

In this year we will develop a comprehensive Displacement and Housing policy to manage reclamation and protect those affected, especially children and the elderly.

RECAP

Mr. Speaker, I have outlined a budget that is focused on the people.

If you recall, when we came to office in 2021, I made it clear that this is “The People’s Term”.

We have never wavered from that commitment.

We have used the People’s Contract as our guidepost to ensure that we deliver on the promises.

We rebuilt the economy and today it is booming and bigger than ever!

Stop-over arrivals are at levels never seen before!

The Cruise industry is getting back to its glory days!

Construction and real estate are growing!

Public servants are enjoying the highest salaries and a more attractive pension plan!

We are spending millions on education and health!

We are investing in disaster preparedness and climate resilience!

We are spending more on social development and security.

We are helping small businesses grow with our targeted policies and concessions.

We are creating opportunities for our people to become part of the TCI dream.

The allocations in this budget paint a clear picture of where our focus is.

Our people are the main priority of this PNP Administration.

In this budget:

General Public Services gets $130.3M.

Health gets $90.6M as we build a better healthcare system.

Economic Affairs has been allocated $86.5M for important areas such as infrastructure development, including land acquisition.

Public Order and Safety gets 72M for Police Services, Law Courts, the

AG Chambers, the Director of Public Prosecution, Labour Tribunal, Customs and Border Protection, Immigration, Repatriations, Prisons, Correctional, Rehabilitation Services and $1.5M dollars for Fire and Rescue.

Education is allocated $58.7M. We are creating modern and better schools.  

We are supporting children who need help, with new initiatives such as the Early Start Daycare Assistance Programme, the Social Enrichment Academic Afterschool Programme and the Nutritional programme for students.

Social Protection has $26.9M which will support those in need, including children, the disabled, elderly and pensioners who receive less than a thousand dollars per month.

I say to the Leader of the Opposition, the welfare of our people is our priority.

Housing and Community Amenities will receive $18.7M for Estate Management and Water Services. It will also fund improvements to housing and community renewal, as well as District Administrations.

Defence receives $9.6M for the National Security Secretariat which includes the Contingent Military Force/TCI Regiment and disaster management.

Environmental Protection gets $3.6M

to protect our environment and marine life and fortify the TCI against natural disasters.

And!

Culture receives $1.4 million for cultural development, and community activities.  

CONCLUSION

Mr. Speaker, when the results of 2021 election were called, I was both elated and humbled by the mandate.

But Mr. Speaker, I was also deeply conscious of the weight of the responsibility and the expectations of my people.

I made a solemn vow that I would never be obligated or beholden to vested interests, special interests, or self-interest.

But!

That I would be only driven by the national interest.

This government that I lead has always put country first and always will.

In my inaugural address I promised you that I would be Premier for the Turks and Caicos Islands.

I meant it then and I mean it now.

Mr. Speaker, I believe that my government is living out that promise through policy and by action.

Mr. Speaker,

My government is clear eyed about acting in the national interest and empowering all generations.

We are investing in our people.

We are investing in their education and skills, housing, infrastructure, higher wages and social programmes.

We are protecting our environment – for tourism, farming and for future generations.

Our budget is designed to give our people opportunities and change their lives for the better.

Our many initiatives including the Mortgage Corporation, Credit Union, Affordable Housing, MSME Grants, and the various concessions are designed to give our people opportunities to create wealth.

We are strengthening our society – delivering the services and care that nourish ambition and help people lead better lives.

Fairness at work, equality in society, compassion, dignity and opportunity for all are our standards.

For too long, governments have been reactive to every crisis rather than planning for long term prosperity.

We are looking at every measure that will make a positive difference.

We are preparing our people!

We are creating opportunities!

We are transforming the economy and these islands!

Vision 2040 is our goal post.

In it, we aspire to “A high quality of life enjoyed by citizens, residents and future generations.”

Mr. Speaker, the vision is not just about a more prosperous country.

It is a vision of a more prosperous people.

Mr. Speaker, to achieve the vision we must aim to build a country defined not by selfishness but by the values of mutual responsibility that the PNP holds dear.

A country defined not by what we consume but by what we contribute.

A country with a collective sense of purpose, urgency, and confidence.

Mr. Speaker, this is our moment.

I invite my colleagues and country to join me in giving life to that vision.

Let us shape a future that is safe, prosperous and where each one of us can write a story of success.

Let us come together to deliver the vision, so fifty years from now, the next generation will thank us for shaping a TCI they are proud to inherit.

Thank you!

May God bless each of you and our beautiful by nature Turks and Caicos Islands.

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