“For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.” Psalm 100:5
It is because of the assurance of the faithfulness of God that I draw inspiration from the words of the hymn writer Frances Ridley Havergal: “Another year is dawning, dear Father, let it be in working or in waiting, another year with Thee Another year of progress, another year of praise, Another year of proving Thy presence all the days.”
To the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands, everywhere, I am forever grateful to God almighty for His appointment, and to you for choosing me to lead at this crucial time.
I am delighted to speak to you and the countless others who reside and visit, on the cusp of the old and the New Year. It is a time to retrospect - to measure performance, course correct, to adjust plans in light of emerging circumstances, to make fresh plans, and to set new targets.
In so doing, I dedicate anew my efforts through God’s help, to the collective dreams and aspirations of us all.
Secondly, I extend well wishes from my government and my immediate and extended family to you and yours. As with any year, 2023 has had its share of challenges and opportunities and disappointments and successes; but in the end, we have much to celebrate.
I am thankful to God almighty that my government continues to deliver its ambitious mandate to uplift our people. I am especially grateful because:
• Our economy is strong.
• Our critical tourist industry continues to grow and outperform many of our
• Investor interest has never been better, and the pipeline of new development
projects has never been deeper, better resourced, or of a higher quality.
• Although not enough, more and more Turks and Caicos Islanders are entering
the Tourism Industry, aided by targeted concessions including stamp duty rebates, duty exemptions, and MSME grants.
• Critically, the category of businesses qualifying for grant funding has
expanded; and assistance has been rolling out at an increased pace by Invest
TCI. You would be pleased to know that additional funding is being made
• Agricultural grants and relief have been made available to qualified farmers;
• The fishing industry is targeted for special funding assistance.
My government is committed to three principles of justice – equity, equality, and need; and is walking the talk and delivering for its people’s social development. You can see all the interventions made, whether it be in education, healthcare, social assistance, housing, childcare, or assistance for the elderly and the infirmed.
My government is not tone-deaf to the cry for relief from the mounting impact of price inflation and has:
• removed duties on food staples and supplies.
• permanently reduced CPF from 7.5% to 5%.
• increased the minimum wage.
• and has provided day-care and afterschool support to families in need.
My government promised to put the “service” back into “public service;” and on this, we have not made the strides that we had hoped, but the commitment remains, and significant progress is now being made to deliver.
More investment has and will continue to be made in reorganising public service management, providing the strategic tools and manpower to measure performance and speed up service delivery. Critical to demanding more from public servants was the need to improve their working conditions and remuneration.
My government has now put in place a compensation package for public servants that recognises the skills required and the weight of responsibilities of the differing roles and is moving rapidly to improve the working environment of staff.
My government has uplifted the pension of public servants employed by TCIG before 1992, recognising that value was eroded by inflation. My government has also announced the launch of a financial assistance program for needy seniors over seventy (70) years old. This is expected to take effect in April 2024.
My government will use moral suasion to encourage the private sector to move towards a better and more equitable pay system for certain categories of workers.
Bearing in mind our achievements, I am humbled by the patience and forbearance of those who have not yet fully felt the benefits of this buoyant economy. I want to assure you that this government has your best interests at heart and is working assiduously to ensure that your needs are met and that opportunities are in place for you to survive and thrive, right here in the TCI.
It is not possible in this message to recount all that my government has done over the last year let alone over the last thirty-four (34) months. Therefore, I will deliver a more comprehensive account of the stewardship of my government at the State of the State Address in February 2024, God willing.
An abridged list of accomplishments over the past year includes the following:
• Setting up of the Informal Settlements Unit;
• Grand Turk Enhancement and Sustainability Agency;
• Progress on Constitutional Amendments with the UK;
• Progress on several Priority Projects including the South Dock Port
Development, linking the islands by fibre optic connectivity and the
• The Housing Policy Launch and establishment of the Housing
• Consolidation of Immigration and Customs to include one Border
• Implementation of the Social Enrichment Programs, including the daycare and after-school programs;
• Progression of plans and initiatives toward the Howard Hamilton International Airport Development
• Digitisation of Police Records;
• Launch of the Destination Management and Marketing Organisation –
Experience Turks and Caicos;
• Debt forgiveness of the former TOLCO and Invest TCI Loans; and
• A New Residential Crown Land Policy and Amnesty Program.
These boxes could not be ticked, except for the dedications of the work teams among Ministries, Departments and Agencies, who toiled to effectuate policy and execute the Government’s vision.
As I turn now towards 2024, my government will work to accelerate the delivery of yet unrealised promises in the Citizen’s Contract; many of which are at various stages in the pipeline. Additionally, in light of changing circumstances, there will be a reprioritising of government’s objectives which may result in swapping some projects for others that may be more critical.
My government will focus particularly on housing, the environment, community renewal, operationalising the credit union, agriculture, and fisheries, MSME with linkages to tourism, road and infrastructure improvements, and government office accommodations etc.
Step by step and block by block we are committed to building a stronger safer country. So, it would be remiss of me not to mention, that we are deeply concerned and feel the pulse of the nation when it comes to the recent uptick in violent crimes and gun-related incidences.
The communities of the Turks and Caicos can remember a time when petty crimes such as disorderly conduct, public intoxication, vandalism, and theft made up the bulk of the matters to be policed and handled by the court. As a former police officer, I have genuine empathy towards the Police, and officers working in areas such as Border Services.
The varied issues and challenges that they are confronted with daily are cause for alarm. Many factors make a country a good place to live. Safety, law, and order rank high on any quality-of-life index.
My government will continue to resource the Police Force and other complementary agencies and will encourage partnerships with public safety personnel. We call on residents to be vigilant, prepared, and organised as we tackle crime together. We strive for a country that is safe and affords a high-quality of life and prosperity for all.
There is so much to do! be and become in the TCI for those who would seize the opportunities that my government is creating. Your role is to position yourself for the ongoing shift in economic opportunities.
I implore us in 2024 to think big, even if we have to start small. This is the best time to awaken our entrepreneurial spirit - to be ambitious and to take risks.
This is as good a time as ever to strive for excellence and if excellence is further away from our reach, it is enough to strive for continuous improvement.
This is as good a time as ever to upskill, to take on a new hobby, and to monetise it. This is as good a time as ever to find a niche and to consistently work it into a successful venture.
The New Year always ushers in the belief that it is as good a time as ever to change or become more adaptable to change. Looking back over the past three (3) years, I am reminded of my inaugural conversation with you as Premier of the TCI. I promised to be a transformational leader – transformation connotates change.
I did not promise you a smooth ride or harmony all the time, but I promised you an environment where creative friction will be stimulated, and where there will be progress.
Today, I reiterate the promises to listen, to be empathetic, to be supportive, transparent, and accountable. I promise that every decision made in Cabinet and every decision made in the House of Assembly that affects every one of us will be for the greater good of the TCI.
To all residents of the Turks and Caicos Islands, I say thank you, for your commitment to the growth and development of this country and encourage you to become a part of the change you want to see.
I end as I began with a hymn authored by Lawrence Tuttiett:
“Father, let me dedicate All this year to Thee, in whatever worldly state Thou wilt have me be. Not from sorrow, pain or care, Freedom dare I claim; This alone shall be my prayer: Glorify Thy name.”
On behalf of my government, my lovely wife, and family I wish you and all you hold dear, a bright and prosperous new year. May it be filled with joy, peace, security, prosperity, and good health.
Happy New Year, God bless you.