HE the Governor, Peter Beckingham, chaired a meeting of Cabinet on Wednesday 22 October 2014 at the Hilly Ewing Building, Providenciales
All Ministers were present.
At this meeting Cabinet:
- Agreed to extend the Development Agreement currently in place with Grand Caicos Holdings to allow for commencement of construction of a mixed-use hotel, marina, residential and commercial development on Middle Caicos. The extension will require the development to commencement construction by 1 March 2015;
- Considered and agreed the supplementary appropriation requests that will be forwarded to the UK Government for approval before being tabled at the next House of Assembly meeting;
- Confirmed the next meetings of the House of Assembly would be the 17-19 of November and the 15-17 of December;
- Approved amendments to the Domestic Financial Services Sales Tax Ordinance 2011 to limit the imposition of the tax to money transfers only, and to increase the rate to 12%;
- Agreed that the Turks and Caicos Islands Airport Authority excess revenues for financial years 2014/2015 and 2015/2016 should be used for the redevelopment of South Caicos Airport;
- Approved an amendment to the current Business License fee structure on ‘Commercial Space Rental’ to reduce the fee from $0.50 per square foot to $0.25 per square foot; the minimum amount payable will be $300, and the maximum $5,000;
- Agreed to submit to the House of Assembly a Validation Bill that will retrospectively regularise the payment of various benefits paid to beneficiaries since 2004;
- Agreed to amend the Hotel and Restaurant (Taxation) Ordinance 2014 to comply with the terms of Carnival’s existing Development Agreement that relate to its operations on Grand Turk;
- Agreed to consider the approval of amendments to the Business Licensing Regulations, Section 30. Details will follow in due course;
- Agreed that where there had been an overpayment or underpayment of Business License fees as a result of early license renewal ahead of the implementation of the July 2014 structure revisions, refunds or collection of outstanding amounts should be made. Cabinet also noted and endorsed the establishment of the multi-agency Revenue Compliance Programme;
- Agreed the National Insurance (Amendment) Bill 2014, National Insurance (Benefit) (Amendment) Regulations 2014 and the National Insurance (Contributions) (Amendment) Regulations 2014 and for these amendments to be forwarded to the HOA for debate and passage and published in the Gazette respectively and then laid before the House of Assembly. These proposals mostly do the following –
- Increase the maximum earnings limit (wage ceiling) on which contributions are paid from $2,600 per month to $4,000 per month in three steps in April 2015, April 2016 and April 2017.
- For Retirement pension, use a five-year average of insurable wages instead of only three years of insurable wages and, if the ceiling is increased as recommended above, adjust downwards the average insurable wages for those with earnings in excess of the current $600 per week ceiling when calculating pensions.
- Introduce reduction factors that will be applied to Retirement pensions awarded prior to age 65 thus making pensions selected prior to age 65 actuarially equivalent with those awarded at normal retirement age.
- Legislative provision for the NIB to make all of its investments in accordance with the Investment Policy Statement.
- Make provision for the Permanent Secretary Finance to be ex officio a member of the Board and for his/her representative to deputize in his/her absence.
- Make provision for self-employment to be continuous unless notification of discontinuance of the employment is given to the NIB by the self-employed person.
- Increase the maximum period for payment of maternity allowance from 12 weeks to 14 weeks to bring it in line with the Employment Ordinance;
- Introduce a disqualification provision for persons in receipt of invalidity pension who perform remunerative work whilst receiving the pension.
- Reduce the amount of hours from 10 to 5 for the purpose of determining liability to pay contributions as a self employed person.
- Introduce a provision to protect contributions in cases where warrants or distress is executed against the property of delinquent contributors;
- Amend the Ordinance to state that corporate bodies and the officers of those bodies can be proceeded against at the same time in cases where offences against the Ordinance have been committed and widen the provision to include other unincorporated bodies of persons.
- Require all employers to submit monthly to NIB a statement of contributions.
- Make provision for the Minister to consult the Board prior to appointing the Director/CEO and to ensure that the Director has the necessary qualifications and experience.
- Make the Investment Committee and the Audit Committee statutory committees.
- Make provision for surplus funds in the short term branch of the Fund to be transferred to the long term branch in accordance with the Actuarial reviews.
- Amend the provision requiring the NIB to pay medical reimbursement to TCIG to make the amounts payable to NHIB based on actuarial assessments to bring the law in line with the NHIP Ordinance.
- Amend the Ordinance to expressly state that investments and loans can be paid or met out of the Fund.
- Consistent with legislation governing other statutory bodies, introduce sanctions for Board members who are present and fail to disclose their personal or pecuniary interest in a matter being discussed and determined by the Board.
- Consistent with legislation governing other statutory bodies, introduce a confidentiality provision where officers, employees or agents of the Board acquire information in their official duties.
- Make provision for the Minister to act in circumstances where the operation of the Board is not being conducted in the best interest of the subscribers.
- Make provision for contributions to be paid by means other than by cash or cheque and at designated places other than NIB offices.
Ministers will provide further details on these matters in due course.