United Kingdom Overseas Territories Meeting in Turks and Caicos

Premier Dr. Hon. Rufus Ewing will host UK Overseas Territories (OTs) Heads of Government in the Turks and Caicos Islands 20-21st July 2016 at The Palms, Turks and Caicos for a Pre Joint Ministerial Conference (Pre-JMC).

The Turks and Caicos Islands will be hosting the event for the first time and plans are well underway to welcome the leaders from the OTs and their delegations for a series of meetings on mutual areas of interest. The Pre-JMC is a precursor to the Joint Ministerial Council that will be held in London 31 October – 4th November 2016 and hosted by the Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO).

Attending the meetings will be the Premier of British Virgin Islands, Dr. the Hon. Orlando Smith OBE, Premier of Cayman Islands, the Hon. Alden McLaughlin MBE, Premier of Bermuda, the Hon. Michael Dunkley JP, Premier of Monserrat, the Hon. Donaldson Romeo, Chief Minister of Gibraltar, the Hon. Fabian Picardo, Representing the Government of Anguilla, Hon. Evans McNeill Rogers – Minister of Social Development and representing the Government of the Falkland Islands, Hon. Roger Edwards MLA.  The Secretary General of CARICOM, Mr Irwin Larocque, will also travel to the Islands to meet with the Leaders of the Caribbean OTs on 20 July, 2016.

OTs who are not able to attend the Pre JMC in person will be represented remotely via teleconference during the two days of meetings.  They include:  Pitcairn Islands, Tristan Da Cunha, St. Helena and Ascension Island.

Premier Ewing, who will host and chair several of the roundtable discussions said; “The Turks and Caicos Government is pleased to welcome the OT Leaders and delegations to our shores.  While the JMC is the highest political forum between the UK Government and elected leaders and representatives, this forum allows us to first meet and outline a clear strategy to address the challenges OTs face prior to the JMC.”

“These pre-meetings allow us an opportunity to have meaningful discussions on issues of common concerns such as economic and social development, health and environmental issues as well as the relationship between the OTs and the UK. Following the vote of the UK referendum to leave the European Union (EU) the first session will explore the implication of the result on the OTs and their relationship with the EU.”

“I have been attending these meetings for four (4) years now, and I am delighted to welcome all the attendees to our beautiful paradise, while we discuss such pertinent issues.”

The Premier and other OT Leaders will hold a press conference and photo opportunity on the first official day of the conference, 20 July 2016, at the Messel Ballroom, The Palms Turks and Caicos.  The meetings will conclude at the Cabinet Room, Office of the Premier, Hon. NJS Francis Building, Pond Street Grand Turk on 21 July 2016. 

 

MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS RETURNS FROM THE 19TH ANNUAL CARIBBEAN POSTAL UNION CONFERENCE 2016

A team from the Ministry of Home Affairs, Transportation and Communication which included the Minister, Honourable George Lightbourne, Head of Secretariat, Mrs Bridgette Newman and Post Master General, Mrs. Elizabeth Garland James returned to the country on Sunday, July 3 2016 following their participation in the 19th Annual Caribbean Postal Union’s Conference hosted by the Postal Administration in Bridgetown, Barbados from June 27- July 1 2016.

The Conference was held under the theme, The Future Post: Standardisation Towards Keeping Post Relevant” and was attended by Ministers and Postal Representatives from around the Caribbean, the United States, United Kingdom, France, Canada, Belgium, Switzerland, the Netherlands as well as representatives from CARICOM.

The strategic objective of the Conference was the effective transitioning of member Posts towards a viable future and at the end of the sessions it was hoped that the Union would:

  1. Develop strategies that would create a paradigm shift with respect to human resource management and development
  2. Products and markets development
  3. Posts remaining relevant to their customers at the national and regional level.

The Union also explored issues around the improvement of parcel delivery and Ecommerce opportunities. The week of activities included a number of plenary sessions, a panel discussion, workshop and closed sessions. The Union’s Work Plan and Budget were presented to member states and the election of the Secretary General and Management Board also took place.

While at the conference the delegation met with the newly elected Director General of the Universal Postal Union, Mr. Bishar Hussein and his Deputy to discuss plans for the Union as well as issues relating to 26th Postal Congress which is slated to be held in Istanbul, Turkey later on in the year.

The 3rd Meeting of the Council of Caribbean Ministers of Postal Affairs convened on Friday, July 1, 2016 at the Accra Beach Hotel & Spa, where ministers met to discuss and share ideas as to the way forward for the Postal Union collectively and their individual countries.

Hon. Lightbourne had the pleasure of being nominated and elected as the Deputy Chair for the Ministers’ meeting and was called on to chair the latter half of the meeting as well as the Ministers’ Caucus.

He stated; “It was indeed an honour to have been nominated and elected to serve as Deputy Chair for the 3rd Council of the Caribbean Ministers of Postal Affairs Meeting and the experience of chairing the Ministerial Caucus and a session will be cherished. My colleagues and I deliberated on a number of important issues concerning Postal matters universally as well as in our respective countries. It was a beneficial exchange of ideas as to the way forward so that our Postal Services continue to remain relevant and that we do our part to ensure the development of new and innovative means to supply the needs of those who most need our services.”

The Minister went on to note that he was impressed by the level of commitment and dedication of the Postmasters and this was evident by the fervour with which they discussed their issues. With all the advances in technology he had not realised the important role that the Postal Administration played in so many countries.

The Minister also took the opportunity to once again offer his thanks and appreciation to the Post Master General for the Turks and Caicos, Mrs. Elizabeth Garland James and her staff for their continued commitment and dedication to Postal Services in the Turks and Caicos and pledged to continue to lobby for better facilities and working environment for them. 

Following the closing ceremony of the Minister’s Conference, a cocktail reception was hosted by the Hon Adriel Brathwaite, Q.C. M.P, Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs in honour of the visit of the Director General of the Universal Postal Union and the 3rd Meeting of the Council of Caribbean Ministers of Postal Affairs.

TCI DEMONSTRATES ECONOMIC STABILITY WITH THIRD YEAR OF SOVEREIGN BBB+ RATING

Global ratings agency Standard & Poor’s (S&P) has maintained its BBB+ rating with a stable outlook for the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) it announced Wednesday, 29th June 2016.

This is TCI’s third consecutive year with such a strong grading.  A team from S&P made the annual visit to the islands in May and met with a range of officials as part of the review process.

 “This rating represents continued recognition of TCI’s economic growth and stability due to sound fiscal policy and prudent financial management. However, as pointed out by S&P, growth is now restricted by short supply in available rooms as new construction is being frustrated by ongoing litigation” said Minister of Finance, Washington Misick.

The S&P report reiterated that TCI’s relationship with the U.K. provides a benefit to local economic policies and judicial and institutional stability, all of which further support the ratings.

“TCI continues to see strong economic growth in its tourist-based economy, largely due to the ongoing economic recovery in its largest visitor market, the U.S. However, we expect that with existing hotels at capacity, tourist activity is likely to moderate in 2016, with real GDP growing about 3% in 2016, down from nearly 6% in 2015. Real GDP growth has been very strong in recent years and we expect it return to more sustainable levels in the medium term. We project that per capita GDP growth could average 1.3% annually in the next three-to-four years,” quoted from the S&P Global Rating Report.

The BBB+ rating is a strong factor in attracting foreign direct investment to TCI and building confidence amongst its existing business community. 
 
Commenting on the announcement His Excellency, Governor Peter Beckingham welcomed the decision, stating; “This is great news for the TCI, and a welcome re-affirmation from a top rating agency that our economy is fundamentally sound and that we continue to strengthen our finances.”

He added; “This is to the credit of everyone involved, and more significant given the recent market turmoil.  I am delighted we have kept this rating for three consecutive years.”