#TurksandCaicos, September 19, 2023 – Over 170 Turks and Caicos Islands families have been relieved of a collective $10.5 million debt stemming from decades-old TC Invest Loans.
There was an air of jubilation and support from members in the House of Assembly when the motion to write off the massive mortgage debts was moved by E Jay Saunders, Minister of Finance and Deputy Premier, on September 14th.
The motion laid out that with residents struggling under the weight of high cost of living the government had decided to strike the loans from the books completely.
“This motion is our chance, as policymakers, to create a future (a brighter future) for 176 Turks & Caicos Islander families—-we are not just providing financial relief; but we are also restoring dignity, rekindling their hope, and in so doing, reaffirming our commitment to the well-being of our people and ensuring that they can live their best lives,” Saunders said.
The money had been loaned to residents over decades beginning in 1997 by the now-defunct TC Invest. When the government-controlled investment company went belly up in 2012 and the British stepped in to lead the Turks and Caicos, a total of $17 million was owed on the loans.
The government sold the non-performing loans (the loans with irregular payments) in the portfolio to TOLCO who got to keep 60 percent of any payments made while TCIG kept 40 percent and the performing loans. Five years later, the agreement ended and the entire loan portfolio was back under the control of TCIG.
This meant the government was owed the initial payments plus interest. But residents still couldn’t afford to pay, and thus began a series of write-offs to ease the burden.
- In March 2020 the government wrote off all the interest that had built up on the loans, just over $8 million
- From April 2020 to September 2020 the government froze interest in the loans to try to get residents to pay them off. It didn’t work.
- When that freeze ended interest built up again and again went unpaid, the government wrote it off again in January 2023, a sum of $1.8 million. They then issued another interest freeze and even tried to lower the interest rate but residents still aren’t making any payments.
In recognition that the debt was unbearable for the loan holders, the government decided to forgive the sum in its entirety.
This is no different than what has been done on many occasions for large companies that find themselves in debt. Saunders revealed that residents struggling with the payments had even written in to ask that it be forgiven.
At the passing of the motion, some members called for celebration be it coffee, chocolate, or champagne.
The hope from TCIG now is that residents will be able to own these lands and homes outright.
Ministry of Immigration and Border Services and the Labour Tribunal visited Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland
#TurksandCaicos, September 24, 2023 – The Ministry of Immigration and Border Services and the Labour Tribunal visited Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland between the 4th to 8th September 2023. The Ministry was represented by Deputy Permanent Secretary Mr. Pascal Bacchus and Madam President, Mrs. M. Doreen Quelch Missick represented the Labour Tribunal.
This initiative was geared towards exposing the TCI to the workings of the Labour Tribunal in different jurisdictions, primarily, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. For FY 23-34, training of staff was identified as one of the Key Program Strategies of the Ministry and as such, this exposure provided the opportunity for participants to observe best practices, standards and policies in employment dispute resolution.
A number of key similarities and differences were observed in both jurisdictions. Moreover, a number of nuances were observed which can enhance the TCI commitment to resolving disputes equitably. All jurisdictions have provisions to resolve disputes through conciliation before reaching the Labour Tribunal stage. However, Northern Ireland has an additional layer in their dispute resolution mechanism and that is Judicial Mediation. It is envisaged that these observed best practices will be adopted and implemented to form part of the decent work agenda ensuring social justice for all. Participants were also given the opportunity to observe live Labour Tribunal Matters being adjudicated upon.
The agencies visited were;
- Labour Relations Agency – Northern Ireland
- Office of the Industrial Tribunals and Fair Employment Tribunal – Northern Ireland
- Equality Commission – Northern Ireland
- Workplace Relations Commission – Republic of Ireland
- Law Centre – Northern Ireland
Commenting on this visit and collaboration, Minister for Immigration and Border Services with responsibilities for the Labour Tribunal Hon. Arlington Chuck Musgrove opined, “My Ministry and Government continues to upskill staff to ensure better service delivery to our citizens and those who work and reside among us. As our country continues to grow and develop, there will always be disputes between employers and employees. Hence, both the collaboration and training are timely, to ensure that disputes are resolved to the highest standards and to ensure equity for all involved.”
Beaches Turks and Caicos Summer Internship Scores A+
PROVIDENCIALES, Turks & Caicos Islands: More than 95% of the participants who started the Beaches Turks and Caicos (BTC) Summer Internship Programme received their certification for participation in the recently concluded event at the conference room at the resort.
Youth Ambassador and Internship Coordinator for the Department of Education, in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) Arielle Neely, was the guest speaker at the event. She encouraged participants to maintain their network and apply what they have learnt. She also urged them to continue communicating with the organisation in order to benefit from work experience opportunities during the holiday periods.
Neely’s advice to the youth was not limited to internship or work. She also took the time to affirm them by offering wise words of counsel to build their self – esteem. Her passion for young people was evident as she implored them not to put limits on themselves. She shared, “ensure that you do the right thing during your growing process.”
Having been a beneficiary of BTC Internship Programmes herself, Neely, now has a platform to use the conglomeration of skills and training that she received to help positively impact young people.
Some of the participants testified of the benefits they have had. Donique Matthews, a second-year medical student of the University of Havana, Cuba, worked in the human resource department. Though not in her area of specialization, she acknowledged that she learnt the importance of building human relations and maintaining quality customer care.
Valedictorian of the cohort, Grevoney Dean, was based in the animations department. He expressed his appreciation for learning in that area “I have found my passion,” Dean stated. He views animation as an integral component in helping to ensure that the Beaches brand provides family entertainment. “This is my second year in the internship programme and I intend to maintain my ties with the organisation and hope this will result in full time employment.
Aspiring real estate entrepreneur, Dassy Lacoste, who graduated as salutatorian and a student of the Turks and Caicos Institute of Professional Studies (TCIPS), worked in the food and beverage department. She boasted about the wonderful opportunity to meet new people and develop her problem solving and communication skills.
James McAnally, general manager, noted that Beaches is always willing to develop the human capital of the nation. “Though the interns may not have been assigned to organisations or departments that are directly related to their interests or studies, the benefit of work experience in any field is undeniable. I commend the young people who completed the programme and salute the hard working staff of Beaches Turks and Caicos that made it all happen,” McAnally stated.
Human Resource Manager, Owenta Coleby, praised the efforts of her team in ensuring yet another successful internship programme. She highlighted that participants should not view this simply as an opportunity for earning money but that they should build on every skill set and seek to learn from the team members responsible for training. “The training that is provided at Beaches Turks and Caicos is world-class which they receive at no cost to them. In fact, we pay them for being willing to show up for training because we know that an investment in our young people today, is an investment in the Turks and Caicos Islands for tomorrow.”
Header: Coordinator of Internship within the Ministry of Education in the Turks and Caicos Islands, and former summer intern with Beaches Turks and Caicos, Arielle Neely shares with the audience techniques on how to gain from the experiences gained during the internship programmes
1st insert: Donique Matthews (right) successful intern with the Beaches Turks and Caicos resort accepts her certificate from Amin McCartney, Deputy Permanent Secretary within the Ministry of Education during the graduation exercise at the conference room at the resort.
2nd insert: Section of the audience where graduates were in rapt attention to the presentation
Prestige Volunteers and Sandals Foundation Give Ianthe Pratt Primary School a Face Lift
PROVIDENCIALES, Turks & Caicos Islands: September 21, 2023— Prestige Nominees from Beaches Turks and Caicos (BTC) who serve as volunteers of the Sandals Foundation recently got down and dirty for a worthy cause as they transformed the Ianthe Pratt Primary School for the new academic year.
The team of volunteers repainted murals and walls, pruned trees, removed the rotting monkey bars in preparation for the installation of new ones, and provided well needed electrical repairs in the kitchen. Swings were also replaced and see – saws installed in the kindergarten and special needs playground.
One parent, Rosny Benjamin, who is also a team member of Beaches Turks and Caicos, expressed a sense of relief in knowing that his child would be learning and playing in a more comfortable and safer space. “The school has been providing a safe learning environment for hundreds of children here in Providenciales over the many years. To see my colleagues teaming up with the school administrators and the Sandals Foundation, to provide this well needed face lift is good. Children will now be able to enjoy a more comfortable play area for this school year,” Benjamin shared.
Neekimo King, Principal of the institution, highlighted her satisfaction with the work that was done. She also expressed gratitude for the long-standing relationship that the Sandals Foundation, through Beaches Turks and Caicos, has had with the institution. Said King: “Sandals Foundation and the Beaches Turks and Caicos have been our partners for many years. It was a joy to see the leaders from the resort helping to brighten the murals, preparing the play areas by repairing and replacing items for our children. This will undoubtedly help to improve the teaching and learning environment for our children and teachers for this new academic year.”
General Manager, James McAnally, saluted the volunteers for providing well needed resources for the school. “The annual prestige project serves as a platform for the nominees to find a project each year to work as a team to accomplish. Since the pandemic had put a pause of this event for the company, this project serves as a special restart for the school community and the resort at large. While we continue to give back as a resort, this teamwork is one of the major factors for us as a resort as we continue to maintain our mission of building better communities and leaders here in the Turks and Caicos Islands.”
Public Relations Manager, Orville Morgan noted: “As the Sandals Foundation continues to give back to our communities through the support for the environment, community development and education, we are pleased to have helped in providing a facelift for this school. These leaders were deliberate in selecting this project as this has provided a motivational factor for the company in allowing our leaders to give back to the local communities. While they all worked as a team, each participant was motivated in sharing their collective expertise to improve the education environment for the students.”
Header: The team of volunteers from the Beaches Turks and Caicos resort gather for the prestige nominees Sandals Foundation community project at the Ianthe Pratt Primary school
1st insert: Chef Alwayne Spence, replaces his culinary tools with that of a paint brush as he shows off his painting skills on one of the play structures at the Ianthe Pratt Primary school by the Beaches Turks and Caicos prestige nominees Sandals Foundation community project.
2nd insert: Audie Johnson, housekeeping supervisor shows her creativity as she clears shrubs from an area at the Ianthe Pratt Primary school during the Beaches Turks and Caicos prestige Sandals Foundation community project
3r insert: Learning and Development Manager Phildreka Mayham (left) and Bernard Florvil, Tiler in the Maintenance department team up to share the responsibility of painting the murals within the kindergarten and special education play area at the Ianthe Pratt Primary school during the Beaches Turks and Caicos prestige awards Sandals Foundation community project
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