MESSAGE FOR THE NEW YEAR 2022
MESSAGE FOR THE NEW YEAR 2022
As delivered by Honourable Charles Washington Misick,
Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” - Jeremiah 29:11
My fellow Turks and Caicos Islanders, residents and visitors, as we welcome 2022, let us give God thanks for His many blessings which has sustained us through a challenging 2021.
Today, I greet you with love and hope for the fresh possibilities, that a new year brings. I pray that each of you will find new opportunities and make strides toward achieving your goals and fulfilling your dreams.
Life is a journey and each of us will have challenges to overcome and victories to celebrate. But, with God’s guidance, we can find success and soar to even greater heights.
While a new year is a time to look ahead, it is also a time to take stock. It is a time to acknowledge and thank previous leaders and administrations who have contributed to the development of our islands.
It is a time to thank citizens and residents who have played major roles in the creation of who we are, and how far the TCI has come.
We all must take pride in our great achievements; work together to turn negatives into positives and create a cohesive society that is nurturing and welcoming.
It is the honour of my life to serve as your Premier and I promise that I will work hard every day to ensure that your lives are better, and the future is brighter for the children of these islands.
COVID-19 continues to challenge us. Thankfully, through a high rate of vaccinations and other interventions, we have kept the death toll low.
To the families who lost loved ones to COVID-19 and in other ways, we know a new year will not lessen your pain or sense of loss. We extend our deepest sympathies to you.
Today, I will share some of what we accomplished in 2021 and some of the plans for the year ahead.
Please bear in mind that in about six weeks, I will report on my government’s first year and in March, we will present the budget for 2022-2023.
Over the last ten-and-a-half months, we have had many significant achievements.
To address the economic fallout from the pandemic, we provided 15-million dollars in stimulus grants and over $15 million in TCIG write-offs and debt forgiveness.
With this help, many Turks and Caicos Islanders were able to leave debt behind and start fresh.
The tourism sector is fully reopened and in Grand Turk, cruise tourism has returned. Operators in the cruise sub-sector have been provided with ongoing stimulus and grants to get them ready for the return of cruise ships.
We purchased the vending village for $1.7 million with a further 1-point-5 million being spent for upgrading and we are in negotiation to acquire the White Sands property adjacent to the Cruise Port.
These two properties will become a small business park which will expand opportunities for vending and other small and medium enterprises, as cruise tourism increases.
We have started the implementation of the National Physical Development Plan to support the sustainable development of the Turks and Caicos Islands and stop environmental degradation.
Significant improvements have been made to the operation of the major dumpsite in Providenciales. A consultancy has been approved to investigate and propose proper solutions for waste management for the islands.
The Covid Works Programme was halted as a result of process issues.
Safeguards have been introduced and the tender process reopened. The programme is aimed at providing temporary jobs to reduce the effects of the economic fallout from the pandemic.
To beef-up border safety, and enhance citizen security, we are strengthening all related agencies. We have purchased property for the development of a facility to house the TCI Regiment, TCI Law Enforcement Training Academy as well as a Remand Centre.
In addition, the installation of two new remote radar sites will help improve the communication and surveillance ability of law enforcement personnel to keep our country safe.
We have enacted the Beach and Coastal Vending Policy and Ordinance which will foster the enjoyment of our beaches and coastal areas by islanders, residents and visitors.
Beach patrols will ensure the safety of people as well as the orderly operation of vending in designated areas. This work is ongoing and includes the development of beach access zones and facilities across the islands.
To achieve food security and cut the import bill, we launched “Grow TCI” as part of the National Agricultural Development Plan.
To encourage citizens to grow their own food, we distributed hundreds of plants, seed packages and facilitated radio programs on gardening. Agricultural grants have been provided to established and aspiring farmers.
The Consumer Protection and Fair Competition Department will begin monitoring business and trade practices, to protect consumers from price gouging and unfair behaviour.
We are very concerned about the uptick in inflation and in the upcoming budget, I will announce a suite of measures to provide some economic relief and enhance your standard of living.
Students were given over 5500 Tablets/Laptops/iPads and MIFI devices for online learning and were back for in-class learning early in my administration.
We accomplished a lot in 2021, but a new year gives us an opportunity to assess, adjust and build on the solid foundations we established.
The economy is performing well because of bumper tourist arrivals, real estate transactions and construction is booming. This has resulted in a robust V-shaped recovery with the economy forecasted to grow between 4% - 5% in 22/23,
Plans – 2022
Many projects are ready for implementation this year.
- $12 million is being spent to repair and upgrade the Airport Terminal and runway at PLS – this includes a canopy for the protection of disembarking passengers. Work is progressing on the plans to redevelop the PLS Airport infrastructure, including a parallel taxiway and a brand new first-class terminal building.
- The Population Policy Commission which will settle legacy immigration issues and set policy on the composition of the TCI population has been approved and funded by Cabinet. Appointments will be made to the Commission before the end of January.
- To transform the Tourism industry and achieve stakeholder synergy, a Destination Management Organisation (DMO) and Tourism Authority (TA) are approved and funded by Cabinet. A project manager will be appointed before the end of January to lead the project.
- We are providing relief to small business owners by writing off outstanding fees and clearing the Business License Register of uncollectable fees by the end of the financial year.
- $2 million has been allocated to partially fund a retirement pension plan for Public Servants. More money will be allocated in the supplementary budget to be tabled in February. We are planning for gratuity payments and cost of living adjustments to resume for all public servants on April 1, 2022.
- The programme to reform Crown Land has been approved and funded by the Cabinet – consultants to lead the process will be appointed soon.
- Constitutional reform is underway with the appointment of consultants. Completion of the process is expected by the summer of 2022, and immediately after, talks will resume with the UK.
- We are investing a further $15million dollars for system and equipment upgrades for the TCI Regiment, RTCI Police, and Border Control. With increased resources, our law and order and border security teams can deal more effectively with crime and increase citizen security.
- There are improvements to the Home Help Programme. Qualifying adults will continue to receive $1,000 per month, for full-time care and $600 per month for part-time care.
- In addition, children with special needs will be eligible for Home Help at the same rate as an adult.
- The Social Enhancement Aid to qualifying single-parent households will move from a minimum of $180 per month to $1,000 for adults and $500 per month for each child - up to three children.
- We are increasing the allocation to foster parents from $450 to $1,200 per child, per month.
- The National Housing Policy is being finalized and a funding mechanism to increase the quality and number of housing solutions will be decided in 2022.
- First-class and resilient infrastructure are an important plank in the sustainable economic development of these islands.
- Work continues on the South Caicos Airport passenger terminal and fire fighting facilities.
- The Ports Authority is ramping up infrastructure development on all islands. Tenders for Phases 1 and 2 of the redevelopment of South Dock Provovidenciales, will close on 19 January 2022.
- Appraisal for a new Port Office Complex is completed and the tender process will open shortly.
- Construction of the Bellefield Landing Welcome Centre is underway and will be completed in July. So far it is within budget and on time. Appraisal for the boat slips is completed and ready for tender.
- The dredging of the Bellefield Landing Port, North Caicos, will begin early in 2022. Bellfield Landing has the potential to become a major port. A master plan for its development has been prepared with inputs from the community and stakeholders.
- Construction of the South Caicos Port rehabilitation project will begin in January and work and is scheduled for completion in July.
- The South Caicos Port pavement project will be contracted in March and completed three months thereafter.
- Appraisal for the refurbishment of the Grand Turk Port office building project is nearing completion.
- Other major infrastructural improvements will continue, including the redevelopment of the Leeward Highway and refurbishing and upgrading of bridges and roads across all islands.
- Additionally, consultants have been hired to advise on the development of a government central complex in Providenciales.
- The health of our nation is important and my administration will invest over $10 million starting in 2022, to enhance quality healthcare delivery. We mean business.
My government believes that we must provide our people with quality services and opportunities to achieve economic and social progress.
In every sector and ministry, we are looking at ways to better your lives and improve your chances for success and prosperity.
I live by the words of the scripture; “For nothing will be impossible with God”.
I encourage you to follow your dreams - challenge yourself and find new endeavours; no one can limit us, but ourselves.
I have an abiding confidence in the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands. No matter the challenge, we rise to every occasion.
Let us unite with purpose, to build a country where everyone has an equal opportunity to be successful. A thriving and well-adjusted country will be the legacy we bequeath to our children and generations to come.
I wish all at home and abroad, every resident and visitor prosperity, peace, and personal fulfilment for the New Year.
Happy 2022 and may God bless you and bless our beautiful by nature Turks and Caicos Islands.