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“Pay Increase was never About You!”; Premier Housing bills soar to near Half a Million Dollars says Astwood

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Dana Malcolm 

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, December 15, 2023 – “It’s too much. It’s too much what we’re paying for the Office of the Premier.”

The new salaries for the Members of the House of Assembly have been revealed courtesy of Edwin Astwood, Leader of the Opposition, as he accuses the government of doing the Pay and Grade review for the ‘wrong reasons’.

“I want to tell the members of the public, this increase was never about you! Sorry.  Let’s see who got the biggest benefit,” he said, before listing out the upgraded salaries during a House of Assembly sitting on December 13.

The Leader of the Opposition confirmed figures that had been floating around on social media in the week following the reveal of salary increases for civil servants. The figures he provided were as follows:

  • Premier Pre increase – Base Salary – $146,600; Allowance $24,000
  • Premier Post Increase – Base Salary – $195,000; Allowance $24,000; Housing $219,000  + Housing Maintenance – $206,700
  • Deputy Premier Pre increase – Base Salary – $131,000;  Allowance – $ 60,000
  • Deputy Premier Post Increase – Base Salary – $175,000 ; Allowance – $60,000
  • Minister Pre increase –   Base Salary – $117, 917; Allowance – $58,200
  • Minister Post Increase – Base Salary – $157, 950; Allowance – $58,200
  • Leader of the Opposition Pre increase –   Base Salary – $78,000; Allowance – $18,000
  • Leader of the Opposition Post Increase – Base Salary – $104, 000   Allowance -$18,000
  • Members Pre increase – Base Salary – $72,800   Allowance – $10,200
  • Members Post Increase – Base Salary – $97,500    Allowance – $10,200

“We are happy about the civil servants getting their raise – but this plays into the narrative that politicians are just here for themselves, and I don’t want to be a part of that,” he said.

“I am ashamed, and if you all need to take away my money, take it away, you can’t miss what you ain’t had!” the Opposition Leader screamed.

Chatter could be heard from the Members of the Government across the room, who urged him to calm down and drink water but did not interrupt. Notably, politicians do not give themselves increases, rather the increases are approved by the Integrity Commission.

To this, Astwood countered that the Integrity Commission had received the recommended figures from the consultants who conducted the review.

“The Government, they are giving the people the crumbs and taking the whole table and pushing it into their jeeps and riding away with it! That is not right!” he said.

Jamell Robinson, Minister of Physical Planning and Infrastructure Development, speaking up after Astwood had ended his speech, described the tirade as almost cheap politics.  He referenced the fact that Alvin Garland, Opposition Appointed Member, had called for an increase for the Opposition Leader the week earlier.

Robinson maintained that the PNP government was the first one brave enough to give across-the-board raises to the public service in over a decade.

“I have to let the public know, I ain’t no hater. I’ve been a minister but some things are a little too much. Let’s take care of the people at the bottom first. [Us] at the top? yes we should be getting something- give us $10,000– something that we can manage, we already make a lot of money.”  Astwood advised during his speech.

The Opposition Leader maintained that the pay increases had gone overboard in the House of Assembly, especially in Cabinet.

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“Mad Max” Convicted of Murder

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MEDIA RELEASE

 

#TurksandCaicos, April 23, 2024 – Blue Hills resident KENDALL RONDRE DEAN has been convicted of murdering JOSHUA SWANN.

Mr. Dean, also called “Maddie”, “Mad Max”, and “Dre”, was found guilty by a nine-member jury yesterday (April 22nd) in the Grand Turk Supreme Court.

Following the verdict, Mr. Dean was remanded to Her Majesty’s Prison, pending sentencing on 10th June 2024.

Based on the evidence presented, Mr. SWANN of Five Cays was shot multiple times about the body on Sunday, August 8th, 2021, while at North West Point, Providenciales.

Mr. Swann was transported to the Cheshire Hall Medical Center, where he succumbed to his injuries.

Detectives of the Serious Crimes Unit received a report, and following intensive investigations and interviews, Mr. Dean was arrested and subsequently charged.

Shortly after the verdict, Deputy Commissioner of Police Rodney Adams said, “This conviction demonstrates the RTCIPF’s commitment to bringing to justice those who cause the most harm throughout our communities using illegal firearms.

“This is an example of the effective coordination of the various units across the Force in supporting the lead detective in bringing about this conviction. The RTCIPF is grateful for the information provided by witnesses who came forward.

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Airports Authority aims for 24-hour airport and announces Scholarship programme

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Dana Malcolm 

Staff Writer

 

 

#TurksandCaicos, April 19, 2024 – In an attempt to move to 24-hour-a-day operations Turks and Caicos Islands Airports Authority (TCIAA) is steadily recruiting Air Traffic Controllers to work at the Providenciales/Howard Hamilton International Airport, according to Godfrey Smith, TCIAA CEO, reporting to the Appropriations Committee.

Speaking on April 8th Smith said a cabinet paper would be sent soon requesting six more Air Traffic Controllers to make round the clock operation at the Provo International possible and to open the airport in Grand Turk till 12 a.m.

Currently, 17 posts are filled and seven are vacant.

Smith was candid with his responses to recent industrial action from ATCs which led to resignations and firings.

“What we have to do is find systems to mitigate such actions and that has to start with filling these jobs, putting people in that want to work and doing right by people – and we always try to do right by our staff. Persons may not think that we are but we always do – we ain’t pick no fight,” he said in the meetings held at the NJS Francis building ahead of the National Budget Communication.

Smith indicated that recruitment was an issue across the board, ‘we need to find ways to recruit a little bit better’ he told the committee. Also in need of a push was capital spending or projects according to the CEO, who said the agency had ‘not been very good’ at meeting that mark but insisted they had recognized the issue and could do better.

A very important key performance indicator drawn up by the TCIAA is increasing passenger satisfaction at the Howard Hamilton International Airport. For the TCIAA part of this means a 30 percent increase in seating by Q2 of this year.

When queried on if they could even handle this increase the CEO said,

“The fact of the matter is we already have the capacity there. What we need is to make the service a bit better.”

Staff shortages have become such a frustrating issue that the TCIAA is instituting a scholarship program created by Authority Chairman, Selvyn Hawkins

“What the board wants to do is basically allocate $25,000 annually for a scholarship and they’ve approved it already.”

This process would cover tuition and all other costs for one student.

The student would return as a summer intern and other breaks to work at the TCIAA and upon graduation, assume a role at the company.

“We identify a particular skill we need, we go after it and we build capacity that is in a nutshell the nexus of the program,” Smith said.

The Turks and Caicos Islands Airports Authority (TCIAA) is allocated $49 million this financial year; over $20 million goes to salaries.

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Flow TCI offers Gigabyte Speeds to Customers

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Company delivers fastest speeds nationwide and boosts service reliability

 

PROVIDENCIALES, TURKS AND CAICOS, APRIL 19th, 2024 – More connections, faster speeds and greater support for customers. This is the promise from communications and entertainment provider, Flow TCI, as it embarks on an initiative to provide households with enhanced connections, greater overall reliability and now, for the first time, speeds up to one gigabit person second.

FLOW TCI Country Manager, Joanne Missick shared: “Our customers are at the heart of everything we do. We listen to our customers and want to exceed their demands, so we are focused on delivering unmatched value with customer centric products and services that are future proof. Flow subscribers on our Fibre Extreme package can now access up to one gigabyte speeds and subscribers on our Fibre Plus and Fibre Max package, as of April 1st, are also now benefitting from up to 5x more speeds.”

This is third speed boost for Flow customers in the last two years. This comes under the umbrella of the the Company’s recently launched “Working for You” campaign, where technicians are going into the neighborhoods across the island to conduct repairs, decommission copper cables, and increase the brand’s visibility in local communities.

“To date several neighborhoods have been served by technicians and the company will continue to go across the islands to ensure each neighborhood receives personal attention. We recognize that over the past few months some customers have experienced issues with the quality and delivery of our services. This is not what we stand for. Flow remains committed to providing technology and innovation that enables growth and positively impacts lives”, says, newly appointed Head of Technical Operations, Simeon Thomas.

Thomas adds, “We have been closely monitoring and reviewing every aspect of our network and there is room for improvement across each of the islands. Where we find shortcomings, we are taking concrete actions and assigning our technicians to rapidly make all necessary adjustments and improvements for our customers”.

Flow has made significant investments in expanding and modernizing its infrastructure and delivering a more robust and reliable network paving the way for the country’s digital transformation.

For more information on speed increases visit https://www2.discoverflow.co/turks-and-caicos/price-adjustment-speed-increase on our website.

Thank you for your usual assistance in sharing our stories.

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