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Home Affairs Budget will fund Online Portal for DMV, New Fire Trucks and more says Otis Morris

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer 

 

 

#TurksandCaicos, June 5, 2023 – A bevy of important legislative changes and tangible projects are on the agenda for the Ministry of Home Affairs this year, as the ministry attempts to institute an all new Utilities Bill; a complete revamp of the postal service including personal mailboxes and much more.

The plans were shared on May 18th by Otis Morris, Minister of Home Affairs as he made his contribution to the National Budget debate, last month.

Morris’ ministerial portfolio is a broad one, covering telecommunications, transportation, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), fire services and water services; the PNP Administration, in its Budget passed on Friday May 19, has carved out $26 million for Home Affairs and among the first targets:  mail physically delivered to residents’ doorsteps.

“The Postal Services intends to set up residential mailboxes in several communities on Providenciales,” Morris said. He explained that this would begin with houses that have 911 numbers and mailbox numbers will match house numbers, TCI will be first in the Caribbean to implement it according to the Minister.

Connections will also be made with the US Postal service to allow small businesses locally, to send their product overseas with courier services provided by the local Postal Office through the United States Postal Services, and others for priority delivery to the good’s destination within two business days. This could open up small businesses in the country to the US Market expanding their client base by hundreds of millions.

In relation to water services Morris said:  “As we speak, the contractor is advancing the contract for the installation of the new piping system to connect the RO Plant to the 1-million-gallon storage facility At the same time, the new booster pump house at the 1-million-gallon-storage facility has also been completed.”

In addition, contracts for another 1-million-gallon Salt Water Reverse Osmosis Plant and 1-million-gallon storage facility have been signed, and initial stages have begun. It’s good news especially for Grand Turk residents who have had recurring issues with water availability for years.

The service time at the DMV is another long standing issue on the agenda to be fixed this year, with a new database that will allow for online applications for new and renewed licenses.  Morris says it will dramatically reduce the wait time.

Other projects promised to be completed this financial year include:

  • Collaborating with Carnival Cruises to add the Prison Farm as a tour stop
  • New volunteer fire services,
  • A new fire truck from the Miami Dade Fire and Rescue Department for North and Middle Caicos,
  • A £14 million solar panel on Government buildings project,
  • A Child Safeguarding Champion initiative to train students to identify and report abuse and provide support,
  • A Partnership for Peace program in collaboration with UN Women to engage local men and boys.

In addition to those projects, Morris says he will be going to the House of Assembly with several bills to tackle long standing issues for the public. They include:

  • Amendments to the Road Traffic and Motor Vehicles Ordinances,
  • Revising the Turks and Caicos Islander Status Ordinance to make applying for status easier,
  • Legislation for the implementation of Local Government,
  • Drafting of Utilities Regulatory Agency Bill to create a regulatory agency for electricity water and more,
  • Amendments to the Electricity Ordinance to include provisions for renewable energy.

Along with the all new Utilities Regulatory Agency, a new Department of Rehabilitation and Community Services will be created; plus a new Publishing Policy is in the works, Morris says, to highlight the gaps and missed opportunities, as it relates to the utilization of modern equipment.

Morris swore to continue to be a servant leader for residents across the country, maintaining that the budget was not just a collection of numbers, but an expression of his values and aspirations,

Government

TCI GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCES JUDICIAL APPOINTMENT

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#TurksandCaicos, May 21, 2024 – Ms. Patricia Arana has been sworn in on13 May 2024 as Resident Magistrate, Grand Turk.  She first joined the Judiciary of the Turks and Caicos Islands as Registrar of the Magistrate’s Court in April 2022.

Prior to taking up the position of Registrar of the Magistrate’s Court, she was the Deputy Registrar General at the Supreme Court of her native Belize in Belize City. She started her judicial career as a Magistrate in 2010 and was promoted to the position of Senior Magistrate in 2015. As Senior Magistrate, she worked in several districts in Belize, and acted as Chief Magistrate on several occasions.  She was also within that period, seconded for two years as Legal Counsel to the Financial Intelligence Unit of Belize.

Ms. Arana is a graduate of the University of the West Indies where she obtained a Bachelor of Laws (Hons) Degree, and a graduate of the Norman Manley Law School, Jamaica, where she obtained her Legal Education Certificate. There she distinguished herself when she received the H.H. Dunn Memorial Prize for Legal Drafting and Interpretation.

Regionally, Ms. Arana currently serves as an Executive Member of the Caribbean Association of Judicial Officers (CAJO) on behalf of the Judiciary of the Turks and Caicos Islands. She is also an active member of the Caribbean Association of Women Judges (CAWJ), and the National Garifuna Council (NGC) Orange Walk Branch.

In the Turks and Caicos Islands, Ms. Arana has since her appointment in 2022, served in various capacities: ADR Administrator and lately a member of the Mediation Committee, a member of the Breach Process Rules Committee, Justice of the Peace Vetting Panel, Justice of the Peace Disciplinary Panel, and Election Adjudicator.

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US CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION

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#TurksandCaicos, May 20, 2024 – The Governor’s Office can confirm that Her Excellency the Governor Dileeni Daniel-Selvaratnam and the Honourable Premier Charles Washington Misick will this morning receive a US Congressional delegation, who have requested a meeting to discuss the recent arrests of US nationals for possession of ammunition offences.

The US delegation, which arrived yesterday evening, was met by Protocol officials and is due to depart this afternoon.

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Government

PDM 10 All-Island Candidates a Surprising Slate dubbed ‘the Avengers’

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Dana Malcolm 

Staff Writer 

The Turks and Caicos Islands need saving according to Edwin Astwood, Opposition Leader and he’s assembled his ‘Avengers’ to do it; a team of 10 district candidates who were unveiled on Monday, May 6 to contest the 2025 general elections. 

“We the PDM want to be those champions for you. We want to be your avenging team to lift the country back up,” said Astwood who is the incumbent for ED 2, Grand Turk South.

The Candidates in question were all allowed to speak:

ED 1 Grand Turk North candidate George Lightbourne, former PNP member and minister now stands ratified by the PDM and said “I am fully aware of the issues affecting our people and fully prepared to tackle them.”

ED 3 South Caicos candidate Hynetta ‘Karen’ Forbes made a vow, “To you the people of South Caicos I promise to be a positive change and an advocate for empowerment for all— to make up for the lack and neglect we have endured over the years.”

ED 4 candidate, contesting North and Middle Caicos, Denaz Williams said “I believe in good representation so try me and I guarantee you will love me.”

ED 5 Leeward and Long Bay hopeful Keith Cox said “I want to make sure my efforts go to the betterment of Leeward and Long Bay, it’s time for a change.”

ED 6 candidate for The Bight, Audric Skippings, who returns from his loss in 2021 said “I pledge to be the voice of the people, the driving force behind positive change, and the chairman of progress in our district.”

ED 7 candidate for Cheshire Hall and Richmond Hill, is Rose Higgs who swore  “I am committed to serve as someone committed to changing politics and how some politicians behave after we elect them into power, I am your Beacon of Hope, I am going to parliament!”

ED 8 Blue Hills candidate Anthony Walkin maintained “The ideas I have for the constituency will change Blue Hills— no longer will you be suffering” he swore. 

ED 9 candidate for Five Cays, popular firebrand church pastor and businessman is how many know the energetic Bryant Cox, now approved on the PDM ticket he promised “ED9 it’s our time, I stand before you a man of action ready to work for you.”

Finally, ED 10 candidate for Wheeland Vaden Delroy Williams, who lost to newcomer Kyle  Knowles, now-Minister of Public Safety and Utilities by only a few votes in 2021, said “I am back because you have asked me to come back—because of the love I have for my people…”

They join the already announced all-island candidate team of Robert Been, Ruth Ariza, Karen Malcolm, Sean Astwood, and Ralph Higgs.

Sean Astwood, the former Five Cays members and deputy premier in the Sharlene Robinson administration, had missed the PDM’s all-island slate announcement on March 22; during the constituency candidates roll out had his say.

“Returning to politics was not an easy decision for me and I didn’t make it lightly— I came back because I believe we have a responsibility to stand up for what is right,” said Astwood.

Opposition Leader Edwin Astwood was especially excited to unveil the array of candidates having been the sole elected representative for the past four years. 

“Being in the fight alone these three and a half years wasn’t easy— I was in this battle alone but now you gave me 15 people, they had trouble when it was just me so imagine now with this team coming,” he exclaimed.

Astwood was the only PDM representative to be re-elected in February 2021 when the current PNP Administration gave them a historic walloping, storming their way to victory 14 to 1. Seven of those 2021 candidates including the party’s leader have returned to fight again in the upcoming elections which are constitutionally due in early 2025.

Ezra Taylor, National Party Chairman is convinced that the ‘rescue team’ will serve the Turks and Caicos to its fullest potential.

“Real representation, meritocracy, and honest engagement with our people will be the order of the day in the governance of the Turks and Caicos islands,” he continued “Our candidates embody the values that define us as a country, integrity, compassion, and a relentless dedication to the common good.”

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