By Deandrea Hamilton
#TurksandCaicos, October 12, 2022 – The Government of the Turks and Caicos Islands is constitutionally required to maintain a cash reserve capable of covering 90 days of public sector expenditure. E Jay Saunders, the Department for Finance, Investment and Trade, during the debate in the House of Assembly last week, revealed that the government had exceeded mandatory savings for raising $240 million in cash at the bank.
“I would like to reiterate again that all debt sustainability ratios agreed between the Government of the Turks and Caicos Islands and the UK Government continue to be met, including: • liquid cash reserves now stand at 240 million, which equals 212 days of cash; (What does that mean Mr. President? That means if the TCI economy shuts down today and our government is not in able to generate not even 1 dollar or revenue, we could pay all our bills for up to 212 days.
This exceptionally healthy revenue will allow the Turks and Caicos Islands government to accumulate enough cash to operate for well over 90 days.
“For reference, Mr. Speaker, the UK government requires us to keep a minimum of 90 days of cash reserves, we are down to 212 days! And Mr. President, my long-term goal is to increase that to 365 days. God forbid, if we ever return to another extended lockdown, one thing is certain, TCI won’t have to, as the saying goes, “beg, borrow, or steal” to pay its bills. It is prudent financial management. And it is your government, the people’s government, that works on behalf of the people,” Saunders said during his presentation to parliament on October 6.
Turks and Caicos debt is also incredibly low; drops slightly to less than half a million dollars.
“Mr. President, net debt as a percentage of basic income is negative (that’s a good thing), and national debt service is currently below 0.1% of basic income – c i.e. it is less than $400,000.”
The CFO also outlined TCI’s economic performance, which continues an upward trend where it beats estimates.
“Mr. President, as I reported on Monday, government revenues have increased and are expected to reach $404.2 million (including a $670,000 payout under the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility and grants and contributions over $790,000) This is an improvement of $1.45 million.
I had visions that we could hit $400 million in revenue by the end of our tenure in mid-2025, but God, in His infinite wisdom, saw fit to get us there sooner. Mr. President, what we see today is well summed up in Psalms chapter 107, verse 37, where it is said that “they sowed fields and planted vineyards which brought forth a fruitful harvest”.
Through these Supplementary Estimates, Mr. Chairman, our government is seeking to increase our projected expenditures for this fiscal year by an additional $18.4 million (4.5%), bringing them to a historic $420.3 million. dollars,” said the Minister of Finance.
The Turks and Caicos Islands agreed to a budget shortfall to facilitate several key budget increases, including $3 million for the increased defense needed in the face of an out-of-control and deadly multinational gang, turf war. The government also approved $2.5 million for FortisTCI; a move touted to see residential electric bills cut by hundreds of dollars.
“Mr. Speaker, our government has allocated $2.5 million (let’s call it a ‘mini Stimi’) to subsidize the electric fuel factor, where it is capped at $0.20 during the September period. to December 2022. Mr. Speaker, as the Fortis TCI bills came out last night, October 5, 2022, this initiative of our good government is already saving our residents hundreds of dollars on their monthly electricity bills .
The supplement, which is the second pitch for additional funds in the current budget cycle, will include support for victims of Hurricane Fiona and more resources for payments still in progress in government stimulus programs.
“Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister’s Office is getting $2.7 million to facilitate stimulus payments ($700,000) to people who did not receive the $500 stimulus payment or the stimulus payment current $1,000, and $2 million to help citizens affected by Hurricane Fiona.
Minister E. Jay Saunders opened his presentation with the appeal and explanation.
“Through this Supplementary Estimates, Mr. Speaker, our government is seeking to increase our projected expenditures for this fiscal year by an additional $18.4 million (4.5%), bringing them to a historic $420.3 millions of dollars.