GRAND TURK HOST SECOND YOUTH LISTENING TOUR

On Friday, March 24, 2017, the Ministry of Education, Youth, Sports and Library Services kicked off its second Youth Listening Tour Launch in Grand Turk at the H J Robinson High School Auditorium. 

“It was a successful launching. The tour is a key part of my Government’s Change initiative,” said the Minister of Education, Hon. Josephine Connolly. “As noted in our change document, there will be a heavy focus on young people, on their empowerment and our commitment to giving them an opportunity to have their views and opinions be part of our planning and development.”

She further added; “The listening series will break down barriers between the youth, government and opportunities for success. Over the coming year, the Youth Department officials will host similar listening sessions and discussions with youth across the country.”

During the conversation at the H J Robinson High School Auditorium, the young people raised varying issues which emphasized the importance of education, sport and activities for their lives and for their future. The youths participating in the discussion courageously offered their honest feelings, experiences and desires.

Almost all of those who spoke up, suggested the government promote more sporting activities, programs for both males and females, so that they could stay away from negative influences. They stated their desire for a youth center, dance classes, a better school canteen, sidewalks to avoid the mud when it rains, lockers and more vocational subjects to be taught in schools. There were personal feelings expressed about the role of teachers and even experiences that were negative coming out of classrooms.

The minister was encouraged by the participation and assured the youths: “we hear you! I hear you!”

EMERGENCY OPERATIONS CENTER TRAINING AND EXERCISE 2017

The Department of Disaster Management and Emergencies (DDME) hosted a 3-day training exercise on Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands.  The purpose of this exercise was to certify 30 Emergency Operations Center (EOC) staff and chairs of subcommittee in Emergency Response for all-hazards EOC activation. 

Facilitated by General, Earl Arthurs (Operations Specialist) and Ms. Joanne Persad (Programme Manager-Response and Recovery) of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), the training was designed to enhance capacities in the principles of management, logistics, operations, planning, and finance within the context of an activated EOC. Additionally, the training course focused on the ability to maintain flexibility during dynamic events when managing disasters and emergencies of all types and intensities. Real-world examples of successful and unsuccessful emergency management situations was used to provide a more realistic and legitimate evaluation of emergency management challenges and best practices. Team building and exercise scenarios were also incorporated into the training as a strategy for increasing effectiveness of the TCI’s EOC team.

During an information brief on this important training exercise, Dr. Virginia Clerveaux, Director DDME commented that “One of the major benefits of the training was that it enabled persons who needed to work with each other for coordinated management of emergencies, to better know and understand each other’s capacities, strengths and propensities within the context of stressful emergency operations. The interactions and dynamics afforded by the training fostered development of long lasting relationships which would only helped to serve and improve the effectiveness of the EOC during future activations in support of real-world incidents.”

A functional table-top exercise was held on the March 23rd, 2017 which gave the participants an opportunity to execute their training. In so doing, this exercise also tested the operability of the National Disaster Management Plan and aid in the identification of gaps that need to be addressed.

 

Statement Made By The Hon Premier and Minister of Finance On The Occasion Of The Laying Of The Estimates for 2017/18

Mr. Speaker, in fulfilment of section 3 subsection (4) and section 20 subsection (1) of the Public Financial Management Ordinance 2012, I rise to lay before the House the 2017/18 estimates of revenue and expenditure.  The estimates being presented are in line with the fiscal targets set out in the Fiscal Strategic Policy Statement (FSPS) paper that was tabled in this Honourable House on March 22.

Further that, in accordance with Section 20a, 20b and 52(1)-(2) of the PFM Ordinance, I lay the estimates of the Statutory and Constitutional  Bodies.

Mr. Speaker, it is the dawn of a new Era.  My Government is proud, to announce to the people of these beautiful Islands, that we have met all the debt sustainability indicators that were set out in the framework document agreed between the Governments of the United Kingdom and the Turks and Caicos Islands.  Thus, this budget did not require the approval of the UKG. Mr. Speaker we had to resist the calls and the cry for us to expend monies and spend widely and wildly  on becoming the Government for many reasons but more importantly we were mindful of the sacrifices our people we were forced to endure during the period of austerity imposed on them under the Interim Government and the former PNP Government  - for us to have achieved this fate; and we are committed to continue on the path of fiscal prudence and accountability in a manner that does not punish our people as we advance the mandate of the people, through the ‘Change Agenda’.

Revenue estimates of $273.5 million will be funded through existing revenue streams and a $20 million loan through the CDB or a Commercial Bank.  The major revenue streams are:

  • Import and Other Customs Duties will account for $101.2 million that is 37% of the revenues.
  • Accommodation Taxes $63.7 million, or 23.3% of revenue
  • Stamp Duties $29.4 million or 10.8%
  • Work permit and other immigration fees $26.9 million or 9.8%

The expenditure budget of $267.9 million is 6.2% higher than the budget that was approved for 2016/17.

  • Recurrent Expenditure – $223.5 million
  • Non-Recurrent Expenditure – $6.0 million
  • Capital Expenditure – $38.3 million

Operating surplus of $6.0 million is projected.  

The major areas of spending in the budget are:

·         $66.7m or 25.0% of total expenditure for the Ministry of Health, Agriculture and Human Services;

·         $41.0m or 15.3% for the Ministry of Education, Youth and Library Services.  Allocations to support the Tertiary Education programme in the Community Colleges have been increased by $0.5 million, new staffing for Long Bay Phase 3.  Capital Expenditure allocations for Long Bay Phase 3.  A new primary school in Providenciales is being funding through the EDF 11 programme.

·         $24.5m or 9.3 % - is proposed for the Ministry of Infrastructure, Housing and Planning, including $4.0m for road repairs and improvements.

·         $29.8m or 11% of total expenditure can be announced for the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force.  Funding has been allocated to support the CCTV programme across specific areas and 18 new staff.

·         $20.3m or 7.6% for the Ministry of Finance, Trade and Investment; an additional Officers will be assigned to the Customs Department and the Canine Unit will be re-established.

·         $14.8m or 5.5% - can be announced for the Ministry of Home Affairs, Transportation and Communications including 10 new staff for the Prison and 2 for the Fire Department.  A National Emergency Operation Centre is being proposed over the two years 2017-18 and 2018-19.

·         $9.9m or 3.7% for the Ministry of Border Control and Employment including 8 new Immigration Officers.

·         $9.5m or 3.5% for the Ministry of Tourism, Environment, Heritage and Culture

·         There will be a $9.6m or 3.6% budget for the Judiciary.

·         Finally, there will be $7m or 2.6% for the Attorney General’s Chambers.

Within the proposed budget there will also be:

  • $18.4m for pensions and gratuities, contingency fund and debt servicing.
  • $6.6m for the Governor’s Office
  • $3.3m for the House of Assembly
  • $2.5m for the Premier’s Office and District Administration
  • $2.3m for the Deputy Governor’s Office
  • $1.6m for the Director of Public Prosecutions

Mr. Speaker there is much to celebrate and before false claims are made in order to misguide or mislead the people of this country, let me make it clear, this is the sole accomplishment of this Government and the call for a December election has proven to be one of the worse decisions for our country. When we were sworn in as Government on 20th December, 5 days before Christmas, there were absolutely no Budget plans in motion. All Budget discussions had ceased. On December 29th, 2016, the Ministers met in a Capital Board Meeting to agree the Projects that were possible and priority for the people that were slated for 2016/2017 at a very end of the third quarter. This presented challenges that cannot and must not be repeated.

As a result, late tenders, decisions and evaluations were done to the very end of the financial year and a specially called Cabinet meeting was held on Friday, March 31st, 2017 the very last day of the Financial Year to note a remaining 24 projects so as to commit monies and projects to the new financial year so that funding is not lost. We therefore continue into this year, many projects from last year and even the year before. As a new Government we are in debt to the hardworking civil servants who made this accomplishment possible and I dare say this is the most outstanding accomplishment for my Government in its first 100 days. Early on we have already noted the importance to resource the Departments who are responsible to manage such an active Capital Program and my Government is more than grateful to the Budget Team, SPPD and PWD for the hard work in realizing these projects to this stage.

As the Budget work had not yet begun, we were then forced to begin an ambitious Budget Plan to pass an early Budget: early enough to give the projects a fair chance of completion and to ensure that much needed capital is injected into communities.

A normal 8-month job from FSPS preparation and submission for approval to Budget Lay was completed in less than 3 months. It was only achievable because of the support of Cabinet colleagues, the hardworking Team in Finance as mentioned earlier, the Permanent Secretaries whom I know were not pleased when the new spend was returned for further consideration, the Management of Statutory Bodies who were for some challenged several times, the Finance Managers the HODs and not at all least the CFO (who left the Islands on Friday.)

This is a noble feat and we are pleased to lay before the House the 2017/18 estimates of revenue and expenditure and the estimates of the Statutory and Constitutional Bodies for the work of the Appropriations Committee.

Mr. Speaker with 3 more Budgets to go in this first term, we are satisfied that priorities and important foundation is being signaled and laid.

Mr. Speaker, we will deliver on the Change Document.

Can you feel the change Mr. Speaker? Mr. Speaker, the people are feeling the change!

CONGRATUALTIONS TCI: Our Government success is our people’s success.

We are well on our way!!