Deputy Premier Astwood Responds To Genuine Concerns Raised By The Public Of The Turks & Caicos

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Turks & Caicos Government Press Release

The decision to delay the Service Charge (Hotel and Restaurant) Ordinance start date was an important one to safeguard the rights of our workers and to achieve a smoother implementation whilst protecting the objective of the Bill which is to ensure that the largest work force are greater benefactors of our most lucrative Industry. We wish to assure all workers in the Hospitality Industry that this is by no means a denial but a short delay of this benefit.

We have passed a Bill that achieves this, and also one that protects the Operators from what would have been loss revenue with the implementation of a facility fee for up to 5% which is more than the 4% of the service charge split under the current law.

We are pleased that even ahead of the official start date, registrations were being received by my Ministry who has the responsibility for labour and is properly placed with its management and oversight. We are however disappointed by the actions of a number of our people and PNP operatives who continue to try to undermine the implementation of this benefit and encouraging operators of Restaurants in particular to not cooperate. We remained baffled by the few members of the House of Assembly who thought the benefit too good for the hard workers in the Industry and who continue to fight something that is good for our people and in the most underhanded way.

The Hospitality Sector employs the majority of workers in the Turks and Caicos; it is a lucrative sector and those who work hard in the Industry must be further incentivized. I wish to remind us all, that all Laws are always under review and we maintain that the Bill is not flawed but certainly will be improved following the consideration of these final submissions. Despite the consultation on this matter beginning in 2015, we have received some late submissions including from the diverse villa rental sector, that we believe are worthy of consideration and which will help to tighten the Bill to ensure its objective is achieved and there must be further education and clarification on these new proposed inclusions. Despite the criticism that we know was sure to come, as a mature Government it is important that we allow additional time to complete this process and to include any further ideas that will help to enhance the Bill. We recognize that persons are disappointed with the delay but also wish to further clarify that there would not have been a major increase seen in pay slips in December if at all as the December 1st deadline was in respect of bookings made after this date and TCI has a history of the average bookings being made 30 to 90 days before travel.

We wish to remind everyone that despite the rhetoric and attempts to change facts, the record accurately reflects that not one amendment was made or suggested on the floor of the House save for those by the Government and furnished to the Clerk the day before the Debate for circulation. During the Debate not one member of the Opposition or Independent members made any substantive motion to amend and to suggest otherwise is to mislead the people of this country. The PNP were largely calling for the exclusion of the expatriate workers from the scheme and we remain oppose to this as it is important to compensate all that work hard in this Industry as we expect all to perform to high standards. We remain concerned about those who contributed opposing arguments to the Debate and who continue to have a vested financial interest.

We are committed to the full implementation of the Service Charge (Hotel and Restaurant) Ordinance and its new start date of February 1, 2019 which will allow any proposed amendments to be debated and passed in the House of Assembly.

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