With April 23, 2021 marking this government’s first 50 days in office, the Premier, Honourable Charles Washington Misick, held a press conference to update on the progress made to date. Their 200 Day Agenda document outlined a healthy number of plans to be tackled in their first 200 days.
Amongst the progress points, Honourable Misick reported on the ongoing pandemic relief package. This has included the removal of import tariff on certain items including PPE; a suspension of the mandate to be NIB and NHIP compliant in order to receive benefits; a waiver of NIB and NHIP interest fees; COVID-19 vaccines and vaccination drives; and the citizen relief stimulus grant.
The government is also moving towards the eighth ministry which they promised in their Citizen’s Contract – a ministry of Digitalisation and E-Government. According to the Premier, there is hope that a ministerial appointment could be made in June of this year to head the new portfolio. This will allow for the further transition to a digitised government. Progress has, in fact, already begun in this area as certain services have already been electronically revamped (e.g. the online business license portal).
More developments come in the form of new institutions with work already underway for their establishment. The country can look forward to seeing the formation of the following statutory bodies in the near future:
- Turks and Caicos Islands Revenue Authority;
- Turks and Caicos Islands Financial Services Promotion Agency;
- Tourism Turks and Caicos Islands;
- Turks and Caicos Islands Development Finance Company; and
- A credit union.
The Premier also brought positive news for the nation’s capital to ease the minds of those questioning the date of return of the Carnival cruise ship. Although he gave no specific date, there is a chance that the cruise company would be back once they acquire a larger vessel. This could be around July this year.
In addition, the government has plans of increasing the investment in Grand Turk for more authentic cultural development of the environment.
As for the other islands, district boards are temporarily disbanded to enable the shift towards a local government framework.
2021/2022 Budgetary Measures
Commenting on this year’s spending plans, the Premier and Minister for Finance outlined the following allocation of funds for the year 2021/2022:
- $2 million USD for the reinstatement of pensions for civil servants;
- $1 million USD for the investment in agriculture;
- $6 million USD for land acquisition;
- $2 million USD for the reinstatement of public servants’ retirement benefit;
- $500,000 USD for health information systems;
- $100,000 USD towards a Citizens Hotline to receive comments, queries and complaints from the public;
- $2 million USD for a Police, Immigration and Customs Academy for training purposes;
- $250,000 USD for credit union;
- $15 million USD towards the Ministry of Finance for the value exchange in grants;
- $100,000 USD for early childhood education; and
- $1 million USD for sports while encouraging sports tourism.
In the Q&A portion of the press conference, the Premier stated that the TCI will not see any new taxes in 2021/22 nor any increase of current taxes. He did indicate, however, that the chosen tax measure this government will introduce would be beneficial to our country’s people.