Former Minister of Tourism Hon. Ralph Higgs has deviated from suggestions by Finance Minister Hon. E. Jay Saunders, to those not needing government issued stimulus checks to not collect them so the funds could use for other areas.
“To take taxpayers money and give it to persons who don’t really need it is a waste and should be decried by conscious and concerned people of our country,” Saunders said in the House of Assembly on Tuesday, July 26, as he tabled the first supplementary budget, which included the $14m stimulus, geared to cushion rising inflation.
In a social media post, Higgs said he would be donating his $1,000 to his alma mater the Raymond Gardiner High School on North Caicos.
“My $1,000.00 stimulus will be donated to my alma mater, RGHS, previously North Caicos Junior High School. I'm making my donation today, July 27th, 2022, in anticipation of receiving my stimulus before the start of the next school year, in September,” Higgs wrote.
Higgs, whose bid for a second term in office was defeated by current Immigration Minister Hon. Arlington ‘Chuck’ Musgrove, was quick to point out that his move was not a political one and should not be misread as such.
“I hope my gesture is not misconstrued, as I am no more prosperous than the majority of the 15 or 20% of Turks and Caicos Islanders who do not need the government's $1,000.00 stimulus. I am not seeking political attention…there will be an appropriate time and place for that,” he said.
Higgs also had suggestions for the government concerning the issuing of the relief checks.
“If this government truly wants to help Turks and Caicos Islanders, it should find meaningful ways to uplift our people. Instead of giving out $2.5 million of the 16 million stimulus package to people who don't need it, TCIG could have used this amount to provide an additional $500.00 on the stimulus checks to those who do need the help.
“Now is unquestionably the moment to invest in progressive community activities. Spending more money on those who need it the most is, real investment for real people with real needs,” he argued.
He added: “To begin, TCIG could utilise some of this money to beautify Providenciales; consider the median along Leeward Highway. Is this something we can be proud of at this time? The answer is a resounding no.”
Higgs, in the meantime, urged those who do not need the government checks, to donate them to a worthy cause.
“If you know you don't need the $1000.00, donate it to your favourite charity. Better yet, let's get together and choose Meaningful National Impacting Projects, which we should insist TCIG spend our money on in this fiscal year, given that they have the money,” he suggested.