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TCI BORDERS RE-OPEN TO REGIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL

The Turks and Caicos Islands re-opened its borders to regional and international travel on Wednesday, 22 July after closing to all non-essential travel on 24 March 2020.  

There was a brief ceremony marking the re-opening at the Providenciales International Airport on Wednesday. The Premier Honourable Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson, Cabinet Ministers and officials from the Turks and Caicos Islands Tourist Board including the Chairperson for the Board, Mrs. Adelphine Pitter.  

Father Alvardo Adderley and Reverend Deacon Scott Jupp prayed and blessed the airport facility and staff ahead of the arrival of the inaugural flight post re-opening. 
 
Following the prayer, Ministers Government and invited guests proceeded to the departure lounge upper level balcony to await the arrival of the first flight. 

At 12: 36pm, American Airlines landed with a water cannon welcome at the Providenciales International Airport from Miami International Airport. 72 passengers disembarked flight AA105 following the Environmental Health Department approval.  
 
The Minister for Tourism, Hon. Ralph Higgs commenting on the Ministry’s precautionary measures undertaken prior to the country’s re-opening stated, “We have been working tirelessly towards today’s border re-opening. We want to assure our residents, visitors and all of our stakeholders and travel partners across the world that we have taken every conceivable measure to ensure that our country can re-open safely with all COVID-19 health protocols in place.  

We have successfully launched our TCI Assured Authorization Portal which will ensure that all visitor and return resident pre-travel requirements are verified and met prior to entry into the TCI. We have visited many businesses that will be providing services to our guests prior to this re-opening to ensure that they are compliant with the COVID-19 health and safety regulations. And we have launched the TCI Assured Authorization stickers, each with a unique QR code which can be scanned by visitors and residents to register their position at any given time. This feature will be useful in reviewing, non-real-time data, of an individual’s location for contact tracing purposes.” 

Premier Robinson expressing sentiment of excitement about the return of regional and international travel said, “We can not remain closed forever. This re-opening is a necessary next step toward our new normal as we must learn to coexist with this virus. 

However, I wish to remind the public that the opening up of the economy should not signal the lowering of our guard. I urge us all to adhere to the Ministry of Health’s protocols and guidelines and to do our part as responsible members of the community in reducing the spread of COVID-19 in country. 

As Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands I am pleased to welcome visitors back to the TCI. We are satisfied that all the means have been taken to ensure a safe and secure environment for the return of our guests; and for us to mitigate the risk of importing the virus.  We have some of the strictest protocols in place for arriving passengers and trust that our approach will bear as comprehensive a measure as we can achieve under these circumstances to ensure that we do not import any cases. 

The TCI welcomed a second American Airlines commercial flight which arrived at 2.30pm from the Miami International Airport. Arrivals at the Providenciales International Airport on day one of the re-opening of the country totaled 122 persons. Outbound travelers totaled 63.

PREMIER VISITS ONGOING GOVERNMENT PROJECTS ON GRAND TURK

The Premier and Minister for Finance, Investment and Trade and Chair of the Capital Board, Honourable Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson visited a number of ongoing projects under the Capital Program funded through the Development Fund.  

The Premier was joined by the Minister for Health, Agriculture, Sport and Human Services and Representative for Grand Turk North, Hon. Edwin Astwood and Minister for Education, Youth, Culture, Social and Library Services, Hon. Karen Malcolm, along with the Director of the Office of the Premier, Local Government and Community Affairs who provided an update on the works under the Premier's Office Community Enhancement Programme.  

The following Capital Projects are ongoing and are progressing to completion:  

  • Parade Grounds (Astro Turf, Grand Stand and Storage Room) – overall completion of the project is scheduled for December 2020. 
  • HJ Robinson School new block - overall completion of the project is scheduled for June 2021. 
  • Sports Commission building  
  • Renovation of Police Station in Grand Turk - overall completion is scheduled for January 2021. 
  • Grand Turk Marine Branch - overall completion of this project is scheduled for May 2021. 
  • Government Complexes 
    • Ministry of Education building – completion of this project is scheduled for September 2020. 
    • Crown Land Building - overall completion of this project is scheduled for January 2021. 

The Premier also toured the newly renovated Craft Market. Works included refurbishment to each craft hut – which includes: replacing the lights, repairs to structural cracks to walls, columns and beams; repairs to floor deck and hand rails; replacing metal roof sheeting and painting of all huts. 

The Community Enhancement Programme lead by the Office of the Premier, Local Government and Community Affairs have, this year, completed a number of projects including repairs and refurbishment to walls and the installation of planters on Pond Street, the construction of pond retention walls, the construction of a platform for the JAGS McCartney Statue at Crabtree Corner, repairs to the Gazebo and the enhancement of Emancipation Square with the erection of a new flag pole and flag. 

Under this programme as well, works are set to commence on the refurbishment and beautification of the West Road Basketball Court, Governor’s Beach, and Crabtree Corner Park and plans to erect a JAGS McCartney statue at the JAGS McCartney International Airport and welcome sign on Grand Turk are underway. 

The Premier commenting on the progress of ongoing works in the Nation’s Capital stated, “My Government, in this financial year, has budgeted for the refurbishment and repairs to all Government buildings and to centralize Government through the construction and reinstatement of Government complexes on every island.  

We have prioritized school repairs and have invested in expanding the facilities for Government schools which have outgrown their facilities.  

Through my Office, the Office of the Premier, Local Government and Community Affairs, we continue to focus on the enhancement of all communities in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Investing in communities has always been a priority for my Government as we understand the importance of improving not only infrastructure and the livelihoods of our people, but also improving the environment in which our people reside. It is a critical part of the growth and development of our nation; one that cannot be overlooked. 

Amidst this pandemic, it is paramount that we work toward stabilizing and stimulating the economy of the Turks and Caicos Islands and we as a Government intend to be deliberate in our approach to ensure that Turks and Caicos Islanders are the beneficiaries of such projects. In progressing these critical works to Government facilities and through contracts awarded under the Community Enhancement Programme and TCIG Capital Programme, my Government has and will continue to explore job creation for the people of the TCI. Employment for Turks and Caicos Islanderremain a major priority for my Government.”  

NEW FIXED PENALTIES INTRODUCED FOR NON-COMPLIANCE WITH COVID-19 PROTOCOLS

The Public and Environmental Health (Amendment) Bill 2020 was passed in latest House of Assembly meeting held on Tuesday, 18 August 2020 in the Helena Jones Robinson Auditorium, Grand Turk which introduced fixed penalties for non-compliance with COVID-19 protocols.  

Effective 28 August 2020, a fixed penalty of $250 USD can be imposed for the following violations of the Regulations: 

  1. Failure to comply with curfew requirements 
  2. Failure to comply with restrictions on businesses 
  3. Breach of restriction on the maximum number of persons allowed inside a religious place of worship 
  4. Breach of restriction on maximum number of persons permitted to attend a funeral  
  5. Breach of restriction on maximum number of persons allowed to attend a social activity 
  6. Breach of restriction on maximum number of persons permitted to gather at a public beach 

According to Section 21 of the Public and Environmental Health (COVID-19) (Control Measures) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 entitled “Fixed Penalty: 

“a police officer may issue to the person a ticket, in the form set out in the Schedule 1 and, if the person desires to plead guilty to the offence alleged, he may produce such ticket to the Clerk to the Magistrate’s Court at the place, and on or before the date and time therein specified, not being more than twenty-eight days from the date or receipt of the said ticket, and may pay the fine prescribed in Schedule 2 into court. 

(2) If the person desires to plead not guilty to the offence alleged or to request the court to mitigate the fine, the said ticket shall operate as a summons to the person to appear before the court at the date and time therein specified so that, in default of payment of the fine or so making appearance before the court, the person shall be treated as if the fine had been imposed after conviction. 

Further amendments to the Public and Environmental Health (COVID-19) (Control Measures) Regulations 2020 were made to assist in the prevention and control of the spread of COVID-19 in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Included in those amendments were:  

  1. Officers of the Department of Disaster Management and Emergencies and security guards are now considered essential workers; 
  2. Domestic Travel— for the purpose of continuing to one’s destination upon arrival in the Islands and by the Prison staff/prisoners, the Police, and others who travel as part of their official duties are now recognised as essential travel; 
  3. The mandatory wearing of masks or face coverings is now a ticketable offence. 

The Premier Honourable Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson commenting on the amendments to the regulations stated, “This latest surge in cases are concerningI am therefore appealing to the public to be responsible in how they conduct themselves, being cognizant of the health protocols as mandated by the regulations and with particular emphasis on wearing face coverings, practicing social distancing and avoiding congregating. 

Various warnings have been published in the public domain to adhere to the health protocols and the Ministry of Health and the Police continue to received reports of non-compliance. In order to be effective in controlling the spread of the virus we need to adopt a zero tolerance approach to those who continue to blatantly breach the Regulations set out for the protection of the public. 

The Turks and Caicos Islands Government led by the Ministry of Health with the assistance of the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force will continue to take every measure to ensure that we reduce the spread of COVID-19 and prevent further outbreaks.”  

The Ministry of Health’s compliance officers working along with the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force are responsible for the enforcement of all COVID-19 health requirements and protocols. A public health officer, a police officer or an officer of the relevant government department may visit any business, premises or public place to ensure compliance with the provisions of these Regulations and any guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and can issue a ticket, order the immediate closure of a business or premises; or order the dispersal of persons at that business or premises or at any public place. 

Any person who is found to be in breach of these regulations commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of $1,000 or to a term of imprisonment for three months, or to both.  

PREMIER VISITED ONGOING GOVERNMENT PROJECTS ON SOUTH CAICOS

The Premier and Minister of Finance, Investment and Trade Honourable Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson as Chair of the Capital Board, Minister for Education, Youth, Culture, Social and Library Services, Hon. Karen Malcolm and Executive Director for the Office of the Premier, Local Government and Community Affairs, Ronlee James visited the island of South Caicos on Friday, 18 September to review the progress of a number of ongoing and completed government projects advanced under the Capital Programme and the Community Enhancement Programme.

The following are ongoing capital projects in South Caicos:

1. Rehabilitation of Regatta Village – the refurbishment of the bathroom facility is completed.

2. Rehabilitation of Wharf – overall completion of the project is scheduled for March 2021.

3. Community Centre - overall completion of the project is scheduled for September 2020.

4. South Caicos Clinic - overall completion of the project is scheduled for September 2020.

5. South Caicos Government Office Block - overall completion of the project is scheduled for January 2021.

6. Morgue – all works completed except for the installation of the stainless steel counter tops and cabinets. Overall completion of the project is scheduled for September 2020.

7. South Caicos Police Station – overall completion of the project is scheduled for July 2021.

8. Sports Facility - overall completion of the project is scheduled for November 2020.

9. Iris Stubbs Primary School – installation of a walkway roof and play field and equipment underway. Completion of the project is scheduled for September 2020.

10. Marjorie Basden High School – works to the resource centre and restroom facility are completed. Works are ongoing at the new two-storey block at the facility. Overall completion of the project is scheduled for April 2021.

The Premier as Minister with responsibility for the TCI Airports Authority and Port Authority also visited both the South Caicos Airport and Port Facility to view the progress of upgrades and rehabilitation works. Ongoing works to the South Caicos Terminal and combined services building - which will house firefighters - are progressing, starting with the demolition of the old terminal building which is now complete. The project which is included under the Airports Authority Capital Programme is scheduled to be completed in November 2021.

The South Caicos Port Facility is benefitting from upgrades to enhance security. These upgrades include the erection of security fencing and lights.

The Premier also received progress reports on the Community Enhancement Programme launched under the Office of the Premier, Local Government and Community Affairs. All projects amassed a spending of over $25,000 on the island through the Community Enhancement Programme including; 65 street naming signs

posted throughout the southern (more populated) side of the island; the restoration of the Cow House; the erection of a flag pole; Turks and Caicos Islands flag; and, a welcome sign.

Under this programme, phase two (2) of the enhancement and rehabilitation of the Cow House are planned, which will see fencing and information signs about the history of the building erected and works are proposed to continue enhancement efforts to the Conch Ground Bay area which will include Cedar Park.

PREMIER VISITED ONGOING GOVERNMENT PROJECTS ON NORTH CAICOS

The Premier and Minister of Finance, Investment and Trade Honourable Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson as Chair of the Capital Board, Minister for Education, Youth, Culture, Social and Library Services, Hon. Karen Malcolm and Executive Director for the Office of the Premier, Local Government and Community Affairs, Ronlee James visited the island of North Caicos on Monday, 21 September to review the progress of a number of ongoing and completed government projects advanced under the Capital Programme and the Community Enhancement Programme. 

The following are ongoing and upcoming capital projects in North Caicos: 

  1. Construction of Promenade/Boardwalk and Craft Market for Bottle Creek – these works include the construction of the Craft Market, Sisal Museum, café, restrooms, promenade and communal areas. Completion of the project is scheduled for October 2020. 
  2. Specialist Classroom for Adelaide Oemler Primary School - demolition works are complete. Overall completion of the project is scheduled for January 2021.  
  3. Basketball Courts Raymond Gardiner High School - overall completion of the project is scheduled for October 2020. 
  4. Community Roads – currently out to tender. 
  5. Technical Block for Raymond Gardiner High School – currently out to tender. 

Previously completed under the Capital Programme was the Community Clinic in Bottle Creek, phase two (2) of the Agriculture Development Project and refurbishment and improvement works to the Raymond Gardiner High School under the Schools Infrastructure Project phase one. 

Premier Robinson as Minister of Finance has responsibility for the Ports Authority where important projects were commissioned: 

  1. Navigational lights were installed to aid boaters during night journeys. 
  2. The long outstanding environmental impact assessment in relation to the Sandy Point Channel and surrounding area was commissioned and completed. 
  3. Important dredging works in the Sandy Point Channel was approved for tender and currently temporary works are being carried out to give immediate relief. 
  4. Funds were allocated for the Belle Field Landing clean up. 
  5. Funds were allocated for the Belle Field Landing Welcome Center – soon to be released for tender. 

Over $75,000 was invested in the communities of North Caicos through the Community Enhancement Programme launched under the Office of the Premier, Local Government and Community Affairs. This programme facilitated the following: 

  1. The upgrading and beautification of various parks and communal areas on the Island of North Caicos including improvements to Casuarina Gardens and Hollywood Park; installation of benches, children’s play equipment, domino tables, inspirational quote and welcome signs. 
  2. A bathroom facility was built at the basketball court in Kew, North Caicos. 
  3. Signage - beach access, settlement and warning signs were erected throughout the communities. 

The Office of the Premier, Local Government and Community Affairs are committed to the beautification of all communities throughout the Turks and Caicos Islands and therefore will continue efforts to enhance the community of North Caicos through the reinforcement of the bleachers at the Kew Basketball Court, the installation of benches, children’s play equipment at the Jacob Williams Park and the continued erection of street naming signs, installation of lights and planting of foliage throughout the various communities. 

The Community Enhancement Programme although geared toward the beautification and enrichment of TCI’s communities, it also focuses on providing job opportunities for local contractors who continue to benefit from contracts through this programme. 

The Government is also pleased to say that advanced discussions continue for an Airport Redevelopment Plan and for a resort at Sandy Point.

PREMIER PARTICIPATED IN PRE JOINT MINISTERIAL COUNCIL VIRTUAL CONFERENCE

The Premier Honourable Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson, Executive Director for the Office of the Premier, Local Government and Community Affairs, Ronlee James and UK Representatives for the Turks & Caicos Islands, Tracy Knight and Kimo Tynes on Tuesday, 6 October attended the annual Pre Joint Ministerial Conference which was held virtually for the first time.

The annual conference joins together associate members of the United Kingdom Overseas Territories Association (UKOTA) to discuss matters that promote the interests of the Territories and the co-operation between them and the collective and individual partnerships between the Territories and the UK Government.

The aim of the one-day meeting was to agree upon topics to be discussed and addressed at the Joint Ministerial Conference which, due to the coronavirus pandemic, will be held virtually later this year.

On the agenda at this meeting:

· Crisis and Security: COVID-19: Economic Impact, Vaccines, Disaster Management: support to deal with hurricanes etc. and Border Security

· Environmental Protection & Climate Change

· Protecting Vulnerable Groups in a Pandemic

· EU Exit & International Trade

· Recent press regarding Her Majesty’s Government sending asylum seekers to Overseas Territories for processing.

The Premier participated in the multilateral meeting and led discussions on border security during the meeting which outlined the Turks and Caicos Islands Government strategy, planned developments and partnerships for managing maritime safety and security in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

UKOTA is a representative group of 12 inhabited Overseas Territories (OT) including the Turks and Caicos Islands and presenting the collective view of the Overseas Territories through dialogue and contact with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and through other UK Government Departments; both at official and Ministerial level.

The annual Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council (JMC) brings together political leaders from the Overseas Territories and UK Ministers. It will meet this year from 26 - 27 November 2020.

PREMIER JOINS MINISTER OF EDUCATION ON VISITS TO GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS ON PROVIDENCIALES

The Premier and Minister for Finance, Investment and Trade Honourable Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson, as Chair of the Capital Board and Minister for Education, Youth, Culture, Social and Library Services, Honourable Karen Malcolm on Friday, 2 October, visited Government Schools on Providenciales.

The aim of the site visits were to review the progress of all major and minor ongoing works to all facilities. All seven (7) government schools were visited and progress reports received. The following are the ongoing school infrastructure works: -

1. Construction of new primary school in Long Bay, Providenciales - Early Childhood block, Grade Classroom block, Admin block and external works including finishing works to the gazebo, construction of the walkway roof, installation of manholes, installation of external lights and painting. The overall completion of the project is scheduled for October 2020.

2. The Oseta Jolly Primary School, Blue Hills, Providenciales – Block C & D are completed, works are ongoing on Block E & F, Block A, new classroom block, new bathroom facility block and security booth, new office and conference facility. Oseta Jolly Primary School will also receive a new Early Childhood Block – ceiling, doors and windows installed, works to walkway roof ongoing, internal construction works progressing. Overall completion of project scheduled for October 2020.

3. The Clement Howell High School, Blue Hills, Providenciales – Maintenance works to Admin Block, Claudette Dean Block (completed), Claudette Clare Block (completed), additional works to EDPM room ongoing and Metabeek Block completed except for the replacing of two double doors. Demolition of the old bathroom facility (completed). Overall completion is scheduled for October 2020.

4. A new roof at the Ianthe Pratt Primary School, the Bight, Providenciales - Contract executed. Contract to commence shortly. Overall project completion scheduled for October 2021. Works are ongoing at the Early Childhood Block at Ianthe Pratt Primary School; doors, ceiling and fencing installed, installation of floor tiles and site works ongoing. Overall completion of project scheduled for January 2021.

5. New two-storey block at Enid Capron Primary School, Five Cays, Providenciales - Contract executed and received by Public Works Department on 2 July 2020. Overall project completion scheduled for October 2021. This block will address the current overflow of classes into the Community Center. The Enid Capron Primary School will also benefit from an Early Childhood Center and the demolition of the existing bathroom facilities.

6. The Trade School, Leeward Highway, Providenciales – The recruitment of key personnel for the Trade School continues and structural and other minor works will commence shortly.

7. The Long Bay High School, Long Bay, Provienciales – Works to the grounds to begin shortly.

The Turks and Caicos Islands Government continues to prioritize the improvement of schools for the benefit of our students. It is important that students have stable, modern and safe environments to promote proactive learning and stimulating classroom and school settings.

TCI Government has with the uncertainty of the pandemic, expedited all works to ensure that classrooms are ready for students’ return to face-to-face learning as outlined in the Ministry of Education’s roadmap to the re-opening of schools.

PREMIER ATTENDED CHRIS+HOLA CONNECT 2020 VIRTUAL CONFERENCE

The Turks and Caicos Islands were well represented at the Caribbean Hotel & Resort Investment Summit (CHRIS) and Hotel Opportunities Latin America (HOLA) Connect scheduled for 8 – 10 September 2020.

The Premier and Minister for Finance, Investment and Trade, Honourable Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson participated in an online keynote panel discussion during CHRIS+HOLA Connect 2020. The three-day virtual event included five (5) plenary sessions, eight (8) Caribbean-specific breakout sessions including the online keynote panel discussion with Heads of Government in the region, moderated by the Director General and CEO of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association, Frank Comito.

The discussion focused on tourism investments in the Turks and Caicos Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands; and the vision, plan, and outlook for the tourism industries in both countries, in the short, medium, and long terms.

The Premier, during the discussion, shared the success of the TCI Assured Authorization Portal in reducing the risk of imported cases once the TCI reopened its borders.

Commenting on managing TCI’s Tourism market in the midst of a pandemic, the Premier stated, “ The Turks and Caicos Islands Government did extensive Tourism industry consultations prior and acting upon the recommendations of the Ministry of Health and likewise following the advice of the major health organisations, like the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), to ensure that when the TCI reopened its borders, the country was prepared for a worst case scenario, but we also made all the necessary preparations to mitigate (mitigate instead of prevent?) major outbreaks once we began to reopen, through a phased approach..

The Government also created its own pre-travel requisite for entry into the country through our TCI Assured Portal which was communicated first to tourism industry stakeholders ahead of the official launch to ensure that we encompassed all health protocols and safety requirements to ensure a smoother and safer entry process for our residents and visitors.

We have done extremely well in preventing imported cases since the TCI’s borders reopened and that is a result of our extensive preparations and our hardworking frontline workers who are ensuring that health protocols are adhered to. We are certain that our visitor numbers will continue to increase given the extent of our health protocols, which are a testament that we in the Turks and Caicos Islands indeed care about the health and safety of all who enter these islands.”

Invest Turks and Caicos was a platinum sponsor for CHRIS+HOLA Connect 2020 and hosted a session highlighting “Investment Opportunities in the Turks and Caicos”, the presentation facilitated by Invest TCI's Chief Executive Officer, James Bursey.

“We set out to let the hotel investment community know the Turks and Caicos Islands are open for business investment and that Invest TCI is ready to facilitate and streamline new investments into the country. We discussed opportunities across all islands, and especially sustainable, marine and eco-

adventure focused investments. CHRIS is extremely useful to promote the Islands and provided an excellent opportunity to gain insight into current trends, and how the industry and region is coping with COVID-19. Following this conference, there is a consensus that the tourism industry will bounce back and significant optimism that investments will flourish,” stated Mr. Bursey.

CHRIS+HOLA Connect 2020 is the leading event for hotel and resort investment stakeholders in the Caribbean and Latin America. The audience is comprised of hotel owners, investors, financiers, developers, hotel company executives, tourism officials, and the professional advisory community that serves the various sectors of the industry.

PREMIER ANNOUNCES NEW ASSISTANCE FOR WORKERS AND FAMILIES IN TCI

During a press conference held on Thursday, 10 September 2020 the Premier and Minister for Finance, Investment and Trade, Honourable Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson announced on behalf of the Turks and Caicos Islands Government support to assist persons and families adversely affected by the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

As healthcare associated costs in the Turks and Caicos Islands have risen in the amount of $15.3million and as the Turks and Caicos Islands Government has had to prioritise finances to assist Her Majesty’s Prison and the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force, the Premier announced the following measures:

1. A Cash Stimulus for Non-Hospitality Employees: This new stimulus will go toward Turks and Caicos Islanders, employed in all sectors outside of the Hospitality Sector, who have been adversely affected by the economic fallout of COVID-19. The process has been streamlined and will be launched in October 2020. Further details will be released to the public in the coming weeks.

2. A Special Stimulus for Licensed Public Service Operators: A new policy was created for licensed public service operators as a result of challenges faced in the roll out of the first employee cash stimulus - most of the operators were unable to benefit from the programme due to conflicting arrears with the National Insurance Board (NIB) and licensing laws. An additional challenge was the inability in law to modify the approved amendments under Emergency Powers legislation. Taxi cabs, community cabs and private transfers can now supply an NIB assessment alone to qualify. This affords all operators the ability to benefit based on discussions agreed with the representatives of the Public Transportation Sector.

3. A Full Waiver of Duties on Importation of Laptops and Tablets for Students: With schools switching to online learning as a result of the pandemic, this measure is to assist students. TCIG has provided tablets for many identified by educators and this initiative is to provide further support to parents and students in addition to support given by many private sector donors.

4. A National Food Assistance Programme for All: 11,000 households throughout the TCI will benefit from this programme, with the exclusion of tourism properties. Those households will have an ability to opt out should they wish to. This will be fully funded by TCI Government under the Ministry of Finance but managed by the Office of the Premier, Local Government and Community Affairs through the assistance of volunteers.

5. A Temporary Unemployment Benefit under the National Insurance Plan: A bill has been approved by Cabinet for the temporary unemployment benefit and will be tabled at the next House of Assembly meeting.

The Premier commenting on this initiative stated, “We have an obligation to our people and we must help our people to survive during this period of great challenge experienced worldwide.

Though our revenues are down and our monthly obligations are growing due to rising healthcare and COVID-19 related costs, as a Government, we are obligated to do what we can.

We must make a special effort to stand with the poor; the marginalized and the disadvantaged. Indeed, this nation’s manifesto must be based in the biblical precept: whatever you do unto the least of these.”

Government receives application for rate increase by Fortis

The Hon. Sharlene L Cartwright Robinson, Premier and Minister of Finance has confirmed that the Government has received an application from Fortis for a rate increase under the Electricity Ordinance. Under section 34 of the Ordinance, a public supplier may make such an application for consideration by the Government which the Government is required to consider in accordance with the procedure set out in the Ordinance. The process requires due consideration of the financial representations made by the public supplier as well as the implications on the public on the basis of technical advice and could last up to twelve or more weeks to take the steps that have to be followed under the Ordinance.

Hon. Premier said, “The Government respects the legislative process catered for under the Ordinance and will give due consideration to the application in the context of relevant technical advice, balancing the interests of the public supplier and the needs of the various sectors of the community at large.”

The process under the Ordinance has built in safeguards to ensure that all interested persons have an opportunity to make representations in the process.

COVID-19 UPDATE