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Bankers’ Association President Samuels Finds Residents Hungry for Housing Financing at policy launch



Dana Malcolm

Staff writer



#TurksandCaicos, August 11, 2023 – Despite the Government’s attempt to create more affordable housing for residents with the creation of the new Housing Policy, many say they left the launch feeling less hopeful than they went in.

After the event, one resident expressed it was time to speed up a government-operated mortgage scheme, and those inside the launch event had a similar lack of faith in their ability to secure bank-backed mortgages.

Marcus Samuels, Head of the Banking Association, was hit with questions about how the Association would seek to help residents secure mortgages to purchase these new government homes, considering how difficult residents on both sides of the employment spectrum (private and public)  found it to get approval for loans.

The pre-prepared question was met with applause from the ample audience who had gathered to hear about the programs.

“Homeownership isn’t rocket science, ” Samuels said, stressing that once residents came prepared with knowledge about their own paychecks and the size of the loan they could be offered they had a good chance of success.

Necessary information included:

  • Level of income
  • Level of previous debt

He also said the cost of housing could be lowered for buyers if the Government decided to decrease or forgo their taxes.

“There are some fees that we genuinely cannot move, like the Government stamp duties, which is usually one percent on the transaction.  Thankfully, the Premier is here— the ball is in his court.”

Zhavargo Jolly, Event Moderator, fielded concerns shared by residents, including that the proposed cost of homes in the example (just over $ 200,000) was lower than the usual market value in the country.

There was also a concern that the mortgages seemed geared toward double-income homes, which was not the case for all residents, alienating single mothers, fathers, and other single-income earners.

While Samuels came prepared with calculations for a hypothetical $230,000 home that he said proved residents could be able to own a home with a down payment as low as $12,500 the audience was unconvinced.  When he questioned them about whether residents believed they could afford a home after laying down the calculations the answer was still a resounding ‘no’.

Following the event, Bishop Coleta Williams, Chaplain to the House of Assembly, also spoke on the programs expressing concern that residents would be paying back the loans for years to come.

Residents, in the comments of the live video which was carried on Facebook, expressed being disappointed that more representatives from the Banking Association weren’t present at the meeting when arguably one of the biggest roadblocks to housing is financing.

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New data reveals Housing pitfalls, government reveals detailed plan to fix it 



Dana Malcolm 

Staff Writer 



#TurksandCaicos, August 11, 2023 – Many Turks and Caicos Islanders are spending unsustainable amounts of money on housing, according to data gathered by the Housing Department via the National Housing Needs Survey, emphasizing the need for affordable homes.

Dominique Durham, Deputy Permanent Secretary of Physical Planning and Infrastructure Development

“Respondents of that Survey provided that the majority of households spend more than 50 percent of their income on housing expenses.  Now, as a rule of thumb, especially in America, if you spend more than 30 percent of your income on housing, it is deemed not affordable,” Dominique Durham, Deputy Permanent Secretary of Physical Planning and Infrastructure Development, revealed.

He shared other significant data collected that showed the dire state of the housing market locally, including that nearly a quarter of residents live in damaged homes.

“It also revealed that 21 percent [of respondents] are living in homes in need of repair and 69 percent are looking to purchase a new home within the next five years,” Durham said.

Despite the intent to buy a home, the survey also revealed that many Turks and Caicos residents thought the housing market needed more affordable options for them to be able to bring that dream to fruition.

The majority of residents (32 percent) voted for the Government to create more options for affordable housing when asked what would best improve their housing needs.

Other popular suggestions included:

  • Creating Government housing loan programs (25 percent)
  • Housing subsidies (15 percent)
  • Home improvement/refurbishment programs  (11 percent)

All of those suggestions voted on by residents have made their way into the Housing Policy as either short-term or long-term programs.

Jamell Robinson, Minister of Physical Planning and Infrastructure Development

“Long-term projects include inclusionary zoning, large-scale housing through public-private partnerships, and eventually, we will be establishing a National Housing Authority and Trust whereby we hope to lend at affordable interest rates.  We also are looking to roll out help-to-buy schemes in the near future as we appreciate that an issue is also access to financing,” he said.

The Government is aiming to use these suggestions, voted on by residents, to fix the gaping hole in the market, but even with these new programs, there’s one thing residents say they need to purchase homes– better pay.

Jamell Robinson, Minister of Physical Planning and Infrastructure Development, was hit with the question of whether the Government would start to pay residents more so they could have more cash to afford housing.

The minister said step one was increasing public cash flow (with a pay and grade review for the public service now being conducted), and step two was upskilling all individuals to make them more marketable in the private sector.

“Our Job– is to ensure that our citizens as Turks and Caicos islanders can add value to themselves so they can participate more in the open market, and one of those ways is by making the community college free so you can access higher education– in a free open market which we have here, it’s hard to dictate to the private sector what they can pay a specific individual so we want to grow our individuals to make sure that they can level up,” he explained.

The Housing Policy launched on July 27th in Providenciales.

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Caribbean News

Trinidad & Tobago Emancipation Day Marked with Major Events Attended by Prime Minister and other Dignitaries



#TrinidadandTobago, August 11, 2023 – Prime Minister Dr the Hon Keith Rowley and Mrs Sharon Rowley attended the Distinguished Open Lecture by His Royal Majesty Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, The Asantehene at The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus last evening (Thursday 3rd August, 2023).

The Asantehene is the Guest of Honour in commemoration of this country’s 2023 Emancipation celebrations.

Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives and Member of Parliament for Tunapuna, the Hon. Esmond Forde, Minister of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs, Senator the Hon. Dr. Amery Browne, Minister of Housing and Urban Development, the Hon. Camille Robinson-Regis, Minister of Education, Dr. the Hon. Nyan Gadsby-Dolly, Minister in the Ministry of Education, the Hon. Lisa Morris-Julian, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Principal of The University of the West Indies, St Augustine Campus Professor Rose-Marie Belle Antoine, Dean of the Faculty of Food and Agriculture, Professor Mark Wuddivira and Lecturer Department of History, Dr. Debbie Mc Collin were also in attendance at yesterday’s lecture.

Prime Minister Dr the Hon Keith Rowley and Mrs Sharon Rowley also visited the Desperadoes Pan Theatre at George Street, Port of Spain last evening (Wednesday 2nd August, 2023).

Dr Rowley welcomed His Royal Majesty Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, The Asantehene and his delegation to the pan theatre where His Majesty was treated to various aspects of Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival which culminated in a performance by the Desperadoes Steel Orchestra and a demonstration on the playing of the national instrument for the Asantehene.

“They now see Africa, not through European eyes, as a dark continent, but as the cradle of human civilisation, citing the discoveries of its great empires. They talk of it glowingly, as the world’s fastest developing economic region in the 21st century, having just overtaken Asia, and of its six of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world and of its minerals, critical and indispensable to the technologies of the 21st century green economies.

Today, recognising the pain of the Middle Passage, and the centuries of colonial brutality, I salute the African community, a people, who through grit and determination, is on the march, striving for further discovery and self-realisation, searching, and transforming themselves for the challenges of the 21st century.

Let us all reflect and educate ourselves as we celebrate African Emancipation Day 2023.”


Dr the Honourable Keith Rowley

Prime Minister of The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago

on the occasion of Emancipation Day 2023

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Caribbean News

Roadmap to Int’l Intervention in Haiti spelled out by Feinstein, US Official for Caribbean Affairs



Dana Malcolm 

Staff Writer 



August 11, 2023 – There are several steps to complete, but it’s looking more and more likely that there will be international boots on the ground in Haiti in the very near future.

The revelation came from Barbara A. Feinstein, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Caribbean Affairs and Haiti, in a press briefing on August 04.  It followed a whirlwind of activity prompted by Kenya’s recent announcement that they would consider leading any multinational force deployed to the beleaguered country.

She explained the process to get soldiers into the country.

“The next steps for the Kenyan Government are to perform an assessment on the ground in Haiti, which we expect to take place in the coming weeks; to engage with a wide variety of stakeholders on the ground in Haiti and New York at the United Nations.  Provided the Kenyans are able to secure approval from their own government, they would then work with the United Nations to secure UN authorization of such a force,” said Feinstein in a press conference covered by Caribbean media firms.

Feinstein said the US is prepared to support by introducing a resolution authorizing the force, and they are fairly confident it will pass, with the Deputy describing the Government as ‘optimistic.’

“I would note that in the recent unanimous renewal of the authorization to extend the UN mission on the ground in Haiti, we [also] saw unanimous support for language that did endorse the idea of a multinational force and called for a report to lay out options,” she said.

That report will be tabled by August 15 and will help shape the multinational force.  As for how this multi-national force would operate, once it gets into Haiti, that depends on the findings of the Kenyan assessment.  What is certain is that it won’t be on the front lines.

Instead, it will: “Jumpstart the process of improving security in Haiti by sending thousands of additional personnel to secure critical infrastructure sites and thereby allow the Haitian national police to increase their focus on battling gangs.”

Haitian gangs have repeatedly taken control of important infrastructure relating to oil and electricity especially, forcing police to split their efforts to try and reclaim them while engaging in front-line battles with the gangs.

The US maintains it is committed to having Haiti lead on the response.

The Bahamas and Jamaica are among the countries which have also committed troops for the international mission should it be approved.

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