By Dana Malcolm
#TurksandCaicos, June 29, 2023 – ‘You’ve been lied to’ was the heading on the latest PDM Party release as Edwin Astwood, Opposition Leader, slams the Government for closing down the Tourist Board, describing them as money grubbing.
The latest letter was prompted by the report of reworked severance packages for the employees
“If you hire someone over 20 years, more or less, use them, benefit from them, and then change your mind about continuing to employ them because you think foreign workers who are less qualified than your people are better than your own TCI people, THEN THE LEAST YOU CAN DO IS PAY THEM THEIR BENEFITS.”
The Opposition leader continued, lashing both Washington Misick, TCI Premier and Josephine Connolly, Minister of Tourism.
“You, as an elected government, should not be listening to any foreign legal opinion or any Director’s opinion to decide that you, the PNP Government, no longer want to pay the Tourist Board Staff what they are owed, and what they have earned through their years of employment. Common sense and decency, or the minimum concern for your people would lead you as Premier and Minister of Tourism to insist that your people be paid what they are owed,” he maintained.
Astwood said there were “many falsehoods and untruths being released by the PNP Government” and maintained the board should never have been shut down.
“I continue to believe that all that was stated that the DMO would deliver, could have been delivered by enhancing the staff complement and expanding the functioning and offerings of the existing Tourist Board.”
Describing the touted tourism benefits as dubious Astwood listed facts that he said the public would do will to remember, including:
- After promising staff that they would be getting redundancy and severance benefits they are now seeking to renege on those promises.
- It is normal that severance and redundancy benefits are issues settled by law under the Employment Ordinance and I will add at my insistence, Common Decency.
- No new redeployments in government or the DMO have been confirmed.
He said the issue was not a matter of law but of caring for residents expressing disdain at the reworked packages.
“Is this the kind of precedent this PNP Government wants to set in the TCI? That after the people deserving of this money, you promise them the pay, you then GO BEHIND their backs, you listen to a legal opinion, you listen to Directors, and then say the staff cannot be paid?”
The government has not said the staff will not be paid but indicated that some of the packages had ‘inaccuracies’ and staff would be getting less than what was initially quoted.
Magnetic media was told by staff that the issue stemmed from the minimum amount of years an individual should have worked to qualify for certain gratuities with a massive 8 year gap between the government’s claim of a ten year minimum and the employees initial quotes which were calculated using a two year minimum.
ASTWOOD described it as ‘more than a stab in the back’ and called for deserving payment for the workers and first right of refusal for available jobs in the PNP’s DMO,
GRETHEN BEEN appointed as Head of Secretariat
#TurksandCaicos, December 5, 2023 – The Office of the Deputy Governor is pleased to announce the appointment of Ms. Grethen Been to the post of Head of Secretariat in the Ministry of Immigration and Border Services.
Ms. Been is a proud native of the serene Salt Cay and brings with her a wealth of experience from a fruitful career at the National Insurance Board in Grand Turk.
Her educational foundation flourished in the Turks and Caicos Islands, earning her an Associate’s Degree in Business Administration from the Turks and Caicos Islands Community College in 2002. Advancing her studies, she attained an Advanced Level Certificate in Administrative Corporate Secretaryship, collaboratively certified by the Turks and Caicos Islands Community College and the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, through distance learning in 2002. Furthering her career, she completed an Executive Diploma in Management focused on Social Security from the University of the West Indies – Cave Hill School of Business in Barbados in 2009. Her most recent academic achievement, a Master of Business Administration in Leadership and Sustainability from Robert Kennedy College – Cumbria University, was completed in 2023.
Ms. Been’s professional journey took root in September 1998 as a Clerical Officer in the Ministry of Health and Education, marking her dedication to public service. Transitioning to the Turks and Caicos National Insurance Board in March 2001 as a temporary Data Entry Clerk, she laid the groundwork for an illustrious career, spanning over twenty-two years, manifesting in various capacities. Her recent tenure as a Claims Adjudicator in the benefits department stands as a testament to her exceptional standards of performance, imbued with a profound sense of accountability and trust earned through her steadfast dedication.
Reflecting on her path, Ms. Been said:
“It was Mac Anderson who wrote, “your dreams are blueprints of your soul. They should take you by the hand and lead you to your life’s purpose and passion. They are one of, if not the greatest, source of self-motivation that you have. So, nurture them and feed them inspiration whenever you can”.
God is faithful, He did it. I acknowledge His handy work as I continue my quest to fulfilling what I deem as His plan and purpose for my life.
To Her Excellency Anya Williams and the Government of the Turks and Caicos Islands, I am humbled and honoured to be afforded the opportunity to give of my talents and abilities in service for the greater good of the Turks and Caicos Islands Public Service. I am excited about the rewarding possibilities that will continue to manifest themselves on this leg of my professional journey and likewise look with great hope and optimism to traversing the rough terrains and challenges that may lie ahead. I have an assurance that, “the will of God will never take me, where the grace of God cannot sustain me” – Billy Graham. Also, “Being confident of this, that He that began a good work in me, will carry it through to completion until the day of Jesus Christ” Philippian 1:6.
Of significant importance to my achievements are my late parents to whom I pay special homage; my father who was always enthused about our educational and professional advancement, being my constant push and encouragement, and my dear mother who taught me the importance of affectual fervent prayers and whose prayers are the bedrock of my survival and success. All that I am and ever hope to be, I owe it to them.
Deputy Governor and Head of the Public Service, Her Excellency Anya Williams, in extending congratulatory remarks to Ms. Been, stated:
“It gives me great pleasure to officially announce and to congratulate Ms. Grethen Been on her appointment as Head of Secretariat within the Ministry of Immigration and Border Services and welcome her back to the core public service.
Heads of Secretariats are essential to ministry operations. They are responsible for the overall office administration, safety, and operations for key government services within their respective ministries and work closely with their Minister and Permanent Secretary to ensure the appropriate carriage of processes to achieve ministry objectives.
Having dedicated her life to public service, Ms. Been is no stranger to government operations and financial management.
We wish her well on her appointment and look forward to supporting her in her new role.
Congratulations Ms. Been!”
CANARI outlines climate priorities ahead of Cop28
The Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI) informed that the Caribbean Climate Justice Alliance, in preparation for the upcoming annual COP28 in 2023, launched its “Caribbean Climate Justice and Resilience Agenda,” outlining the priorities for climate justice and resilience in vulnerable Caribbean small island developing states (SIDS).
In a press release, CANARI highlighted that the agenda recognizes the major threat of climate change to the region as well as aims to louden the voices of the at-risk groups “on the frontlines of the climate crisis and catalyze actions for climate justice and local resilience in the Caribbean SIDS.”
The priorities stated under the agenda are:
- Curbing emissions to limit global temperature
increase to 1.5 ̊C
- Scaling up locally-led solutions for adaptation and
loss and damage
- Improving access to and delivery of climate finance
for frontline communities, small and micro enterprises, and civil society organizations as part of a ‘whole of society’ approach
- Scaling up just, nature-based solutions for resilience
- Supporting a just transition for pro-poor, inclusive,
sustainable and resilient development
- Promoting gender equity and social inclusion
approaches to climate action
- Promoting youth and intergenerational equity as
core to the climate response
- Integrating a rights-based and earth-centered
approach in addressing all these priorities and ensuring climate justice
The at-risk groups referred to in the release include small-scale farmers and fisherfolk, rural women producers, income-poor people, elderly and disabled people, Indigenous and Afro-descendant communities, migrants, and LGBTQIA+ people.
Being cognizant of the severity of the effects of climate change on the Caribbean, CANARI referred to the fact that the very existence of the region is on the line.
“If greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated and global temperature exceeds 1.5 ̊C, the impacts of rising sea levels, more intense hurricanes, rainfall variability, ocean acidification, and other changes threaten the very existence of our way of life in the Caribbean and other SIDS that have contributed the least to global emissions.”
Ministry of Fisheries Announces Ground-breaking Spiny Lobster Artificial Habitat Program
Initiative Aims to Boost Spiny Lobster Stock Levels and Enhance Fishermen’s Livelihood
#TurksandCaicos November 25, 2023 – In response to the significant challenges faced by fishermen in the aftermath of the 2018 hurricanes, the Ministry of Fisheries is pleased to announce an innovative pilot program, the Spiny Lobster Artificial Habitat Program. The initiative is designed to address the decline in spiny lobster catch levels caused by the destruction of natural habitats, consequently impacting the economic viability of lobster fishing for local communities.
The Caicos Banks, renowned for their rich marine biodiversity, suffered severe habitat loss due to the accumulation of sands in the cracks and crevices of the seafloor after the 2018 hurricanes. This depletion of natural habitats has led to a direct correlation with the decline in spiny lobster catch levels over the years. Compounded by the rise in fuel prices and the overall cost of living, lobster fishing has become a less lucrative endeavour, with the economic cost per day soaring from $307 in 2010 to $493 in 2022.
Recognizing the urgency of the situation, the Ministry of Fisheries has undertaken a comprehensive study to devise strategic solutions that not only replenish lobster habitats but also ensure the sustainability of the industry for future generations.
The Spiny Lobster Artificial Habitat Program: A Holistic Approach
As part of the ministry’s commitment to supporting local fishermen and fostering sustainable practices, a pilot program is underway to construct 150-200 artificial habitats on the Caicos Bank. The following key components outline the comprehensive strategy of the program:
The Spiny Lobster Artificial Habitat Program, spearheaded by the Ministry of Fisheries, is not just a strategic move to revitalize spiny lobster populations but a dedicated effort to enhance the livelihoods of fishermen and their families. The program’s multi-faceted approach, encompassing financial incentives, community involvement, and ecological conservation, aims to bring about tangible and lasting improvements to the lives of those who depend on the sea for their sustenance.
Artificial habitat serves to provide lobsters with shelter and thus increasing their survival from natural predators
The infusion of financial incentives into the Spiny Lobster Artificial Habitat Program serves as a lifeline for fishermen, providing them with a supplementary income during traditionally challenging periods, such as the Christmas/Winter Season. By compensating registered fishermen for their labour in constructing artificial habitats, the program offers not only a short-term economic boost but also establishes a foundation for long-term sustainability.
While the tourism industry has undeniably played a pivotal role in the economic development of the islands, the benefits have not always trickled down to all sectors of society. Fishing communities, such as South Caicos, have stood on the periphery of the economic boom, facing challenges that threaten their traditional way of life. The Spiny Lobster Artificial Habitat Program represents a conscientious effort by the government to bridge this gap and ensure that every Turks and Caicos Islander shares in the prosperity of the nation.
In expressing her commitment to the well-being of fishing communities, the Hon. Josephine Connolly, Minister with Responsibilities for Maritime and Fisheries Management, remarked, “Our islands have witnessed remarkable economic growth, particularly in the tourism sector. However, it is crucial that we do not leave behind the communities that have sustained themselves through generations of fishing. The Spiny Lobster Artificial Habitat Program is not just a conservation initiative; it is a testament to our commitment to inclusivity and ensuring that the economic prosperity of the islands reaches every corner and every family.”
Minister Connolly further emphasized the importance of sustainable development, stating, “We recognize the delicate balance between economic growth and environmental preservation. This program is designed not just to increase lobster stocks but to empower our fishermen to thrive in harmony with our marine ecosystems. It is a step towards a future where our traditional ways of life coexist with progress, and where no one is left behind.”
As the Spiny Lobster Artificial Habitat Program takes its initial steps, the Ministry of Fisheries remains steadfast in its commitment to a holistic vision for sustainable growth. The success of this program is not merely measured in lobster catch levels but in the improved well-being of fishermen, the resilience of fishing communities, and the equitable distribution of economic benefits across the islands. The Ministry invites all stakeholders, from fishermen to environmental advocates, to join hands in creating a future where prosperity is synonymous with sustainability. The long term vision of this project that is that these artificial habitats will increase spiny lobster stock levels, enhancing profitability for fishermen and indirectly improving their livelihoods.
While this initiative is currently in its pilot phase, its success hinges on the collaborative efforts of the fishing community, stakeholders, and the Ministry of Fisheries. As part of the broader project, “Sustainable Livelihood for Fishermen,” the artificial habitat program signifies a commitment to a holistic approach that balances ecological conservation with economic prosperity.
The success of the Spiny Lobster Artificial Habitat Program relies on the collective commitment of the fishing community, government agencies, and environmental organizations. The Ministry of Fisheries encourages public support and anticipates expanding the initiative with a larger number of 4,000 artificial habitats in the coming years.
The Ministry will be hosting a public meeting with all commercial fishermen in Providenciales at the Felix Morley community Center on Wednesday 30 November 2023 starting at 6:00 pm to present more information on the proposed lobster casitas and how fishermen can play a role and to hear more about the Ministry’s plans to ensure sustainable livelihood of fishermen and their families.
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