More than $250,000 invested so far; minister urges residents to apply before funds run out
PROVIDENCIALES, TURKS & CAICOS ISLAND — For the next six months, the government intends to spend some USD$5 million hiring contractors throughout the nation as part of its $8 million-dollar COVID Works Programme.
The programme “seeks to support many who have lost jobs and livelihoods while providing labour-intensive work for economic exchange opportunities for persons to be engaged”, according to Minister of Physical Planning and Infrastructure Development Akierra Mary Deanne Missick.
Elaborating on what the initiative entails, Missick said, “We are very much mindful of the impact that restrictions introduced by government in an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 have had on the islands. Many continue to experience financial hardship.
“Whilst the hospitality and construction sectors in Providenciales have rebounded well, as an administration, we cannot rest knowing that other industries are still limping along.
“As a result, during the remainder of this financial year, the Turks & Caicos Islands government has now launched the COVID Works Programme to provide an opportunity for petty and small contractors to assist the government in the enhancement of our communities through programmed works, to the benefit of all of us as residents.”
Missick added, “This programme is set to the tune of US$5 million and works will be rolled out across the islands in batches, as we have to ensure that we do not go beyond the allotted expenditure and that financial oversight and transparency are maintained.”
Most of the work will involve either construction, demolition, repairs, maintenance or cleaning; and Missick said the government is “also contemplating having the installation of sidewalks”, all as part of its plan “of getting people into work”.
“I don’t want to say ‘back to work’ because if you were never a contractor before and this is your first foray into it, because you’re interested [in] this, then it’s an option until whatever your normal work was pre-COVID resumes — whether it’s in the cruise or hospitality industry — or you’re interested in going into a different working direction,” she said.
But she urged TC Islanders to act quickly as $250,000 has already been invested since the programme’s launch just a little over two weeks ago and “if we keep up this burn rate, we will be out of money by December”.