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Turks and Caicos Islands 8 May cabinet meeting update

His Excellency Governor Ric Todd chaired the meeting of the Turks and Caicos Islands’ (TCI) Cabinet on Wednesday, 8 May 2013.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The Turks and Caicos Islands Cabinet members
The Turks and Caicos Islands Cabinet members. Governor Ric Todd is centre left, and Premier The Hon Dr Rufus Ewing centre right.

Following the meeting at the House of Assembly Building on Grand Turk, attended by the Premier, Minsiters and all members, the Cabinet Secretary issued the following report.

At this meeting Cabinet:

  1. discussed the draft Companies Amendment Ordinance and heard from companies registration staff in the Financial Services Commission (FSC) about the nature of the proposed changes. Cabinet was informed that a partial change to company registration dates would reduce the delays currently experienced when filing at present in December and January. The legislation would move the registration of ‘non-exempt’ companies to June of each year, whilst the deadline for ‘exempt’ companies would remain December. The FSC representatives indicated this change would also assist the development of an online submission and payment system. Cabinet agreed the draft Ordinance should be presented to the House of Assembly.

  2. discussed the terms of a new Development Agreement with Beaches resort on Providenciales to cover both the original and former Veranda resort sites. Cabinet agreed that the Governor would be in a position to sign the new agreement subject to further consultation this week, and the finalisation of the document by the Attorney General’s (AG) Chambers.

  3. considered a proposal presented by the AG for a policy on the use and style of signs placed on Crown Land. Cabinet noted that there are similar policies in other countries in the region. The policy would introduce minimum standards for signage, their number and placement, establish a system for businesses to seek permission to erect a sign on Crown land and introduce a schedule of fees. The policy proposal was accepted and the AG was asked to prepare draft legislation to present as soon as he can to Cabinet.

  4. approved the granting of the ‘Authority to Survey’ to Mr Cecil Simmons, as required under Section 4 of the Land Survey Ordinance. AG’s Chambers will prepare the relevant papers for the Governor to sign.

  5. noted, and welcomed, that a contract had been awarded by the Procurement Board for the construction of a new two storey, twelve classroom block at the Ona Glinton Primary School, Grand Turk. The new building should address the shortage of teaching space at the school caused by a fire in late 2010.

  6. received a presentation from the Minister of Finance on proposed changes to the Hotel and Restaurant Ordinance to reflect Cabinet’s decision to broaden the implementation of Accommodation Tax during 2013 to cover various additional tourist related services. The proposed ordinance will also clarify the interpretation of what constitutes ‘accommodation’ and the administrative arrangements on the enforcement of the payment of the tax. Cabinet agreed that the Ordinance should be amended, and instructed the AG to bring forward the necessary draft legislation to be considered again by Cabinet before being forwarded to the House of Assembly.

  7. reviewed a draft of a new version of the Air Transport (Licensing Air Services) Regulations prepared by the TCI Civil Aviation Authority (TCIAA) and presented by the Minister of Finance. Cabinet agreed that the existing Regulations, dating back to 1953, be replaced as proposed. It was noted that the existing Regulations no longer reflected the current practice or principles of modern aviation undertaken by the TCICAA. Cabinet further agreed that the new Regulations will be put into effect as soon as possible.

  8. approved the terms of the draft Development Agreement with Desarrollos Hotelco Ltd for the development of a new branded hotel on Providenciales (it was announced recently by the developer the hotel will be part of the JW Marriott brand.) Cabinet welcomed this further step towards a significant investment in the hospitality sector. The Governor will sign the new agreement after the developer has completed its requirements to receive outline planning permission from the Physical Planning Board and the agreement document has been finalised by the AG’s Chambers.

  9. discussed the specific terms upon which to conclude a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with NCPA Ltd for the construction of a hotel and marina in the North Creek area of Grand Turk and indicated their support in principle for the project. The Minister of Finance was authorised to conclude the negotiations with the assistance of AG’s Chambers. Cabinet concluded that the Governor should sign an MoU with the developer once the negotiations are completed and the MoU document has been finalised. It was noted that the MoU will also set a timetable during which the developer must apply for outline planning permission. When this application is ready the Minister for Environment and Home Affairs will sign the relevant seabed licensing permission, which is a pre-requisite for the Physical Planning Board to consider a planning submission of this nature.

  10. also, discussed the specific terms upon which to conclude an MoU with White Sands Ltd for the construction of a hotel extension in the South Base area of Grand Turk and indicated their support in principle for the project. Similarly, the Minister of Finance was authorised to resolve some outstanding matters with the developer with the view to conclude the negotiations, drawing upon the assistance of AG’s Chambers. Cabinet concluded that the Governor should sign an MoU with the developer once the negotiations are completed and the MoU document has been finalised. Thereafter, the developer must apply for planning permission in the normal way to the Physical Planning Board.

  11. The Premier and Minister of Finance explained their intention to lead a delegation to a special session dedicated to investing in the TCI at the annual Invest Caribbean Now event in New York on 4 and 5 June 2013. This event would be a showcase for TCI and private sector funding has been sought to finance the event. The intention to stage a separate tourism and investment conference in TCI later in the year was also discussed. Further details for consideration will be available in due course, but Cabinet judged that both events were beneficial for the development of the TCI economy.

  12. discussed the relatively high cost of telephone calls, both voice and data traffic, incurred by TCIG under the present telephony arrangements. To ensure the best possible value for money is achieved Cabinet, requested the Ministry of Finance and the IT Unit consider the scope for a market testing exercise and report back on the potential savings if a comprehensive cross-government telephony package could be secured.

  13. approved a new Telecommunications Policy to broaden the licensing and regulation of standards to include broadcast and internet print media. A working group under the auspices of the Telecommunications Commission will bring draft legislation to Cabinet within the next few weeks.

  14. agreed to the emergency funding of a replacement reverse osmosis plant for Salt Cay. Given the importance of the matter, it was agreed to go ahead with the procurement immediately, subject to final confirmation of some particular details between the CFO and Minister of Government Support Services.

  15. noted a plan put forward by the Minister of Government Support Services for a three-year Water Undertaking investment programme for Grand Turk and the family islands. This plan for the way forward on each island was accepted in principle, subject to allocation of capital spending in the budget process, with an additional requirement that the Ministry also consider options involving the possible co-funding of improvements with the private sector.

  16. considered a proposal by the Minister for Environment and Home Affairs for an increase in the regulated taxi fares and to review these fares every two years. The basis upon which the fares are calculated for each journey would also be changed where two or more passengers are carried. An announcement will be made by the Minister in due course. There will be no change to the fares charged by the Grand Turk Cruise Centre taxi cabs, which were subject to a separate agreement in 2011.

  17. agreed, following an strong indication of support from the residents of Grand Turk in a public consultation, to support the development proposed by Dolphin Cove on Grand Turk. The support is subject to the developer submitting a planning application and complying with planning and other relevant requirements. The Minister for Environment and Home Affairs will sign the relevant seabed licensing permission, which is a pre-requisite for the Physical Planning Board to consider in due course a planning application from the developer.

  18. received from the Premier a draft of the Government’s legislative agenda to be pursued during the life of the Parliament. This agenda is being reviewed and prioritised by Ministers and the AG. Cabinet will review the draft agenda again at the next meeting with the view to finalising and publishing it as soon as possible thereafter.

  19. The Minister of Government Support Services informed Cabinet will be attending a conference in Trinidad between 22 and 24 May.

Further information on the issues addressed by Cabinet will be provided by Ministers in due course.

Cabinet took the opportunity to offer the Deputy Premier Akierra Missick congratulations and best wishes on the forthcoming occasion of her 30th birthday.

Cabinet will meet next on Wednesday 22 May 2013.

Published 9 May 2013