Amendments to the Immigration Ordinance Passed to Allow Advance Passenger Information System Implementation in the Turks and Caicos Islands

The Deputy Premier and Minister of Border Control and Employment, Honourable Sean R. Astwood, successfully took the Immigration Amendment Bill 2017 through its second and third readings when the House of Assembly resumed this morning with its ninth meeting to allow the introduction of an Advance Passenger Information System in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
 
Advance Passenger Information System (APIS), once implemented, will capture passengers’ biographic data and travel details which will be shared  with Border Control Officials prior to the arrival of passengers in the TCI.
 
This electronic database of passenger details, which will be shared among cooperating countries of the United Kingdom, the United States and members of the Caribbean Community CARICOM, is an undertaking in collaboration with the Joint Regional Communications Center JRCC, a sub agency of CARICOM IMPACS and the United States Government. 
 
The benefits of APIS will be the improvement in crime perception and detection, and deterrence to engagement in the smuggling of drugs, humans, weapons and other contraband, thereby making the borders of the TCI safer while improving the overall passenger experience by reducing congestion and delays at the ports.
 
During his delivery in the House of Assembly, the Deputy Premier noted:
 
"Mr. Speaker, thanks to globalization and the advancement in communication we now live in a world that, in essence has shrunk, and one that has led to one global integrated community without boundaries. And Mr. Speaker, while there is much to be gained from the exposure to world markets, trade and commerce, such as a thriving and healthy tourism industry, as a small island developing state we cannot continue to ignore the increased exposure to threats that this growth brings and we cannot return to a day and time when we had very little exposure to threat, nor should we want to, as our days of less exposure and less threat were also our days of less success as a country and as a people."
 
"Instead Mr. Speaker, small island developing states, like our beloved Turks and Caicos Islands, must find the balance to embrace the opportunities of globalization and a shrunken world, while capitalizing on the power of an integrated world community to mitigate against the inherent threats that comes with it."
 
The Deputy Premier added:
 
"Mr. Speaker, there is also the threat of international terrorism, that is not only a concern for Border Control, it should also be of concern to the Airports Authority as well as our Airline Carriers. Mr. Speaker, not only has security inspections intensified in light of these risks but one has to wonder if there is also the need to reinstate border control checks on departure, which will create further delays in the check-in process as we have already seen in the arrivals and entering of passengers."
 
"Mr. Speaker, the threat of drug trafficking, passenger and gun smuggling along with that of other  illegal contraband also present increased compliance risks that require greater vigilance and intensified inspections by both Border Control and Customs Department."
 
"Mr. Speaker, together these risks have brought greater demands on an already stretched human resource and ultimately lowers the quality of the passenger experience on arrival and departure at our ports and this bill, once passed by this honourable House will facilitate the implementation of an Advance Passenger Information System that will allow us to systematically address the concerns and risks that I have outlined above."
 
The Immigration Amendment Bill 2017, which also includes provisions for the streamlining of the process for intransit passengers, was tabled for its first reading at the July meeting of the House of Assembly and will come in to force on a day as consented to by His Excellency the Governor, Dr. John Freeman, having been published in the Gazette.
 

HOTEL & TOURISM TAXATION ORDINANCE AMENDMENTS

The Revenue Department within the Ministry of Finance would like to advise the general public that the House of Assembly has approved the Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism (Taxation) (Amendment) Ordinance 2017 (hereinafter “the Ordinance”).  The Ordinance which regulates the treatment of taxes on deposits for reservations for services and criteria for designation, comes into effect on 1st August, 2017.

The Ordinance amended and imposed the following provisions:

·         The imposition of a duty on proprietors to keep a record of deposits received for reservations for services and also records in regards to cancellations;

·         The prohibition of proprietors for collecting tax on any deposits paid;

·         Where the tax was collected on reservations that were cancelled the proprietor must remit those monies to the Government;

·         The creation of an offence and penalties for the collection of any tax on deposits paid and for any failure to remit such tax collected by the proprietor to the Government;

·         The imposition of a duty on all restaurant owners to keep proper books and records;

·         The additional of a monthly or annual turnover to the criteria for designation of a restaurant.

·         The imposition of a duty on restaurant owners to permit the Permanent Secretary, Finance to inspect all books and records for the purposes of designating the restaurant for the collection of the tax.

For more information, please visit the Revenue Department in Grand Turk & Providenciales or the District Commissioner’s Offices in the family Islands.

JASMIN WALKIN APPOINTED AS EDUCATION OFFICER – SPECIAL NEEDS

The Turks and Caicos Islands Government is pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Jasmin Walkin as the new Education Officer for Special Needs within the Ministry of Education, Youth, Sports and Library Services.

The Education Officer – Special Needs position is a managerial position that is required to study the educational needs of students to assist in developing plans to meet their special needs and to consult with principals and others on the need for curriculum changes and resources in order to accommodate these needs.  In addition to conducting regular visits to schools to develop, monitor and evaluate programs and services, the post holder is also required to conduct special training and other sessions in order to assist in helping persons to meet their developmental goals.

Mr. Walkin is a previous Valedictorian of the Raymond Gardiner High School and holds a Bachelors of Education Degree specializing in History and Geography from the College of the Bahamas and a Master of Science Degree in Education specializing in Education Leadership from Walden University.  Mr. Walkin has been an educator for 11 years, 10 of which was dedicated to the public service as the Remedial Reading Teacher at the Raymond Gardiner High School where he worked to develop various accommodative and assistance programs at that school and also served as a Head of an Academic Department for six years. 

Commenting on his recent appointment Mr. Walkin said;  “Most people only get one chance at making a significant contribution to something that they love. However, I have been given a second chance to make a positive impact in the field of education. Moreover, this role makes me responsible for the supervision and implementation of the TCI Special Education Policy; an area that is a passion of mine because of my physical limitations and experiences as a student needing special accommodations and my ability to overcome my challenges to presently serve as a senior education official in my country.

“I am looking forward to serving in this role as I would have an opportunity to bring more awareness to the development of Special Education in the TCI, carry out needs assessments, make necessary recommendations to the Ministry for further enhancement, oversee the successful implementation of the Special Education Policy and finally contribute to an environment where other special needs students would be able to have a success story similar or ever better than mine.” 

Deputy Governor Anya Williams said;  “It is with great pleasure and also a sense of pride that I welcome Mr. Jasmin Walkin back to the civil service and also congratulate him on his new role.  Having had the opportunity to interact with Mr. Walkin throughout his years at the Raymond Gardiner High School, his personal experiences and passion for education and for the area of special needs makes him by far the best person for this role and we are fully confident that not only will he do his best, but that he will work tirelessly to transform the way that we seek to meet special needs within our education sector in the Turks and Caicos Islands.  Congratulations and Welcome Back Jas!”