Good afternoon to you Mr. Speaker, my fellow Turks and Caicos Islanders, Colleagues and those listening by way of radio and internet.
Mr. Speaker I rise today in support of this Supplementary Appropriation Bill 2021/2022. I would like to particularly mention a few areas of concerns and those that I am happy about. The first being Special Needs.
Mr. Speaker, for many years the area of special needs has been neglected. While I appreciate the strides that have been made, there is always more that can be done and should be done. Throughout these islands we have families who are struggling to get help for their children with special needs to the point where many resorted to leaving their homes to seek help abroad and without any financial support from government.
To this end, I am happy to see that this government is listening to the cries of the people and have allocated $150,000 to assist with overseas care for children with acute disabilities and also assist with bringing in specialist in speech, behaviour and development to provide these much needed services which are not available here in the TCI.
I am happy to also see that this government has begun the process of partnering with organizations such as the Ashley Learning Center and other schools that offer Special Needs Services.
Mr. Speaker on the issue of textbooks, I would like to remind the Oppositions Appointed Member that funding for the purchase of textbooks ceased under the former PDM administration. It is this government through our Minister of Education that has allocated funding to reintroduce the purchase of textbooks.
Thanks to this venture, parents who would otherwise purchase those expensive school textbooks from private entities can in short order purchase them through the Ministry of Education throughout the country.
Mr. Speaker it is also pleasing to see that the Department of Home Affairs and Transportation will receive funding for License Plates. For many of us all living on the island of Providenciales, we can attest to the large number of vehicles with no license plates. I am furthermore pleased that we will not only return to the pervious plates which were categorized under residential, private and rental but that we will have a proper system in place that will assist with the detection of crime.
COMMUNICATION AND PROTOCOL OFFICE
Mr. Speaker, It is also pleasing that we have begun the process of funding for the establishment of a Communications Directorate and Protocol Management Unit to address public concerns and to govern in a transparent way, which will in turn keep the public informed and updated on what this government is doing. This, Mr. Speaker, is another campaign promise being fulfilled.
JOB VACANCIES AND GOVERNMENT SALARIES
Finally, Mr. Speaker everyone who spoke today spoke about the alarming number of vacant positions within government that has not been filled. However, my view is different. Mr. Speaker while the recruitment process and Human Resource is not under the direct remit of elected government, I feel we can do more. As legislators it is incumbent on all of us to make representation and were necessary propose legislation to protect our Turks and Caicos Islanders in all aspects of employment.
Mr. Speaker, I personally applied for a government job before accepting this role and before being self-employed but got no response. Our Turks and Caicos Islanders are applying for the jobs in government over and over again and are getting no response. In addition, Mr. Speaker, another reason too is that the salaries are simply too low and we need to fight for better pay of our civil servants.
Mr. Speaker, we have persons in the services in this day and age still making $1600.00 per month, having to decide if they should pay rent or pay Fortis on any given month. Mr. Speaker, this is wrong. Working for the government is a noble profession and we will continue to lose good people and talent to the private sector if we do not fix this very soon.
Mr. Speaker, I strongly believe that Turks and Caicos Islanders will remain uninterested in working for TCIG if we continue to overlook our local talents and recruit overseas to pay expatriates top dollar and allowances that will never be otherwise offered to our own people.
And Mr. Speaker to add insult to injury, it is our experienced Turks and Caicos Islanders that has to turn around and train that expat worker who came to this country and can now live more comfortably than us in our country on our dime. I am a true patriot of this country and I make no apologies in this regard.
Mr. Speaker, under previous PNP governments, millions have been spent on scholarships and I can assure you that we have qualified Turks & Caicos Islanders who can fulfil any role in government.
Mr. Speaker, my background is in Human Resources and until we get serious about recruiting our own people in government and placing them to the top key positions, it is hyprocritical to dictate to our private sector that they should hire Turks and Caicos Islanders especially in managerial positions. We have to lead by example.
I thank you.