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PDM sides with Public Service License Drivers, Antiquated laws need upgrade

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Dana Malcolm 

Staff Writer 

 

#TurksandCaicos, November 10, 2023 – After outcry from Public Service Vehicle Operators, the People’s Democratic Movement is calling on the Government to adjust the Road Traffic ordinance to benefit the workers.

“The role of government is to work with the stakeholders, not against them,” said Robert Been, Deputy Party Leader in an open letter, days after a government meeting that laid down new rules for the drivers, including a requirement to retake a test they had already passed.

“The taxi drivers are also opposed to the idea of having to retake an exam for license renewal. They firmly support the notion that all previous license holders should be grandfathered in, allowing them to maintain their licenses without the need for re-examination,” he explained.

Been also echoed the drivers’ sentiments that this was unnecessary and spoke against the current laws which strip drivers of their licenses if they miss a 60-day renewal period.

“The PDM firmly believes that the proposal to cancel plates for non-compliance with the December 31st deadline each year is unduly excessive and harsh— ” he continued, “[we] are calling on the government to allow taxi operators to keep their license plates and impose a penalty/fine if the deadline is missed.”

The Deputy Leader also brought up other pressing issues he said were shared with him by operators including :

  • The need for the creation of a new purpose-built Taxi Stand at the Providenciales International Airport;
  • The proliferation of illegal taxis, which are not subject to the fees and regulations of registered drivers but cut into their profits;
  • The proposition of a new rate system, determined not just by the traffic department, but other factors like fuel costs, maintenance expenses, and other fees associated with their business operations.

Been also called for the government to liaise with hotels so more lucrative transportation contracts could be spread around rather than with a small group of operators. He stressed too, that under the PDM, the revamp of the near 40-year-old ordinance would be a non-issue.

He said: “Under a PDM administration, we are committed to safeguarding the license plates of all taxi operators. We will implement measures to facilitate the transfer or inheritance of these plates, allowing family members the opportunity to carry on the legacy of their business.”

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Opposition Leader strong admonition to New RBC Manager

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Garfield Ekon

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, May 29, 2024 – The Opposition has proposed to the new Managing Director of the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), that the institution open new branches in the Turks & Caicos Islands (TCI), with services that can lead to financial inclusion.

Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Edwin Astwood says while the Managing Director has his welcome to the TCI, he said a meeting she had with significant Government officials, has been keenly noted, especially for RBC’s involvement in funding key Government projects, and for “talks to progress further than this, I believe the discussion on Financial Inclusion must take place.

“Providing much-needed access to banking services to individuals and businesses in our underserved communities. This can help improve financial literacy and access to financial products for the family islands population outside of Providenciales,” the Opposition Leader said in a statement.

He added that a discussion on Supporting Economic Development, must also be on the table, as a “caring Government” would have been soliciting the respective bank for more access to capital for the people on TCI-owned businesses, stressing that the Opposition is cognizant of the fact that by offering small to medium-sized business loans, banks can support entrepreneurship and economic development in communities throughout the TCI.

Further, he said access to capital is crucial for small businesses to start and grow, and by providing loans, banks can help stimulate local economic activity and job creation, underscoring that when banks invest in rural districts through branches and business loans, they contribute to the overall growth and prosperity of the community.

“Small businesses are often the backbone of rural economies, and by supporting them, banks can help these communities thrive. I believe that banks doing business should be concerned about Building Customer Relationships. Opening branches in our family islands and underserved communities of Providenciales and providing business loans can help banks build long-term relationships with customers,” he said

He argued that by being present in the community and supporting local businesses, banks can establish trust and loyalty among residents, which can lead to increased customer retention and satisfaction.

Mr. Astwood in his strident statement, said citizens deserve better from banking institutions, and the people of Providenciales where the banks are located deserve better, and “our people in the family islands deserve better, therefore the TCI deserves better, and that is a PDM Government who will work to foster a healthy and inclusive financial system that includes serving the interests of all our people in all our islands,” he said.

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Norman B Saunders Airport Opens, opportunities touted by Gov’t

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Garfield Ekon

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, May 29, 2024 – Employment and business opportunities are now looming in the South Caicos, and Government officials are urging young people, along with entrepreneurs to prepare themselves and maximise the openings.

Speaking at the renaming of the of South Caicos Airport to the Norman B. Saunders Snr. International Airport, Deputy Governor, Hon. Anya Williams said the Government is diversifying the economy, and expanding tourism to all the outer islands.

“You have to be part of that. For this airport to operate as an international airport, we need additional staff. We will need immigration officers, custom officers, fire officers, and we will need other staff,” the Deputy Governor said.

She added that the Government is providing small grants, assistance in preparing business plans, and technical advice for the setting up of “your businesses. Prepare to come back home because your island will need you,” she told her audience.

The Deputy Governor noted that having had the opportunity to work with Mr. Saunders, she found him to be a great “encourager, and someone who is so smart and articulate,” and always take the opportunity to “grant wisdom” to others, and “I developed so much respect” for the former Parliamentarian, she said.

For Premier, Hon. Charles Washington Misick, the new airport is a catalyst for progress, as the Government has signed an agreement with American Airline, while major resorts are entering the area, and “plans are afoot to have an activity here, that you have never seen before in South Caicos,” he said.

Declaring that young people should “get ready,” the Premier said, “this is your moment, so, South Caicos, I want you to appreciate what you see here, I want you to treat it properly and well, and all of you, young people should strive to leave a positive legacy,” as Mr. Saunders has done, he said.

Mr. Misick also said Mr. Saunders who became Chief Minister of the Turks Caicos Islands (TCI), from 1980-1985, with responsibility, among other things, as well as  Immigration, Fisheries, Civil Aviation, went “above and beyond the call of duty,” in the performance of his duties, and “we are all better for it. Naming this airport in his honour, is only a very small token” of the recognition he should be given, the Premier said.

In his response, Mr. Saunders said he enjoyed all the moments in public live, and “we believe that South Caicos will be the next big spot, and area for tourism. I trust that this place will be the gateway to other islands, and I am confident that everything I did, was for the benefit of this country,” he said.

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Caribbean News

A King and High Level Speakers open SIDS Conference in Antigua & Barbuda

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Garfield Ekon

Staff Writer

 

#Antigua, May 29, 2024 – The Caribbean Island of Antigua and Barbuda is hosting the fourth International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS), which seeks to build resilience, and find solutions to the pressing challenges of debt burden, and to achieve sustainable development goals.

Opened on Monday, in St. Johns, under the theme, “Charting the course toward resilient prosperity,” the Conference which run from May 27 to 30, had addresses from 33 countries, where speakers pressed the need for actions on financing for Climate emergency, and crises such as spiraling debt, and health challenges.

Speaking via video link, King Charles III, said island nations are leading the way in confronting Climate Change, protecting biodiversity, and stewarding the global Ocean, while pointing out that there is potential for large investors to contribute to Climate financing, and the benefits of collaboration among SIDS. The King also called for “bold action” and said “your future is our future.”

Host Prime Minister, Gaston Browne told his audience that SIDS face unprecedented global challenges, that they did not create, and “large-scale polluters” bear responsibility for compensation, as he called for ending fossil subsidies.

The Prime Minister also called for   the establishment of the Commission of Small Island States (COSIS) and the recent unanimous advisory opinion from the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), which affirmed the legal duty of state parties to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea to mitigate Climate impacts to protect the marine environment.

In the Caribbean region, PM Browne has been at the forefront of advocacy to develop a Multidimensional Vulnerability Index that truly reflects SIDS needs for development finance, and Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley of Barbados has spearheaded the Bridgetown Initiative to transform lending and provide inclusive, resilient finance to countries facing Climate crises.

Prime Minister of The Bahamas, Philip Davis urged the SIDS Conference to support a new global tax treaty to be negotiated and for financial flows to be regulated to ease the crippling debt burden impeding many SIDS from fully developing their potential.

Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General António Guterres aid SIDS stands as a test case for Climate and financial justice, and called on all countries to align with the 1.5°C Climate targets, and for Climate finance to double by 2025, and for significant contributions to the Loss and Damage Fund. “SIDS can make an almighty noise together to deliver meaningful change to benefit the whole of humankind,” he said.

Many SIDS remain dependent on imported fossil fuels, curtailing both their environmental and economic efforts. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), some SIDS would need an investment of around US $5.9 billion annually to achieve their renewable energy targets by 2030 and reduce their fossil-fuel dependency.

The COVID-19 pandemic deepened existing fragilities and triggered the most acute economic contraction across SIDS, increasing their debt burden and depleting resources. Over 40 per cent of SIDS are now on the edge of or are already grappling with unsustainable levels of debt. Between 2000 and 2019, the external debt of SIDS rose by 24 percentage points of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The total public debt for SIDS now stands at approximately US $82 billion dollars.

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