When the news of Dr Ubaldus Raymond’s resignation from the Senate and, consequently, as Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Commerce, Business Development, Investment and Consumer Affairs to allow him to take up the post of Chief Economist in the Government of the Turks and Caicos Islands, came as a swift and sudden surprise, I chuckled with cynicism and immediately reached out to my sources.
Melanius Alphonse is a management and development consultant. He is an advocate for community development, social justice, economic freedom and equality; the Lucian People’s Movement (LPM) critic on youth initiative, infrastructure, economic and business development. He can be reached at[email protected]
For weeks, there has been a rumbling of a cabinet reshuffle, discontent in certain quarters and, at the same time, celebration at the ministry of infrastructure, port services and transport, and the prime minister’s office, where two new appointments helped reinforce big government ideals and political patronage.
Whether anyone of these gave rise to Dr Raymond’s exit remains a mystery, for now. But, Dr Raymond’s departure, based on my observation, is emblematic of a progressive personality that is not comfortable with the status quo and quite rightly; a professional who is not comfortable with the Kenny and Tony version of Keynesian economics and blind plantocracy that requires obedience, and no dissenting viewpoints, even when basic arithmetic trumps liberal ideology.
Why is this so important? Every country needs an economic strategy. What is Saint Lucia’s strategy to help the development of businesses that will create jobs and profitable opportunities for the financial sector to invest in and realize economic growth?
The knowledge and experience of any economist recognizes that basic principle and will not indulge in playing politics with the future of a country and its people.
The habitual lapse of judgment and the lack of aptitude to engage knowledgeable minds, and civic and professional groups to harness the best ideas and solutions are reflected in the 2012/2013 budget that is laden with an accelerating ideology of big government, spending increases and high taxes that will not solve the debt problem and grow the Saint Lucian economy.
As a result, an economist’s modus operandi requires results that are achievable via an economic strategy with a foundation that works with consistency and efficiency, and one that is proactive to change in this global sphere.
The resignation of Dr Raymond may very well equate to a development setback for Saint Lucia to attract and keep excellence. And to wish him well and continue to make his country proud is an affront, as someone who is not essential and valuable in the development of his country, but is better off in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
In today’s global challenge to economic growth, the search for knowledge, innovation and creativity is a critical component that comprises three Ts – Technology, Talent and Tolerance that must synchronize to power and distinguish Saint Lucia in the marketplace.
Yet, in this modern-day, level-headedness is carelessly displaced in favour of a political philosophy that is antiquated in terms of the economic realities of Saint Lucia.
Perhaps this is part and parcel of the grand scheme to export knowledge, expertise and wisdom to the Turks and Caicos Islands and elsewhere around the world in return for issuing work permits and visas at will to work in Saint Lucia.
And maybe, it is just what the constitutional Doctor prescribes as the possibilities to develop and build a vision to suit narrow political and cultural borders, and a choir that can only coexist in the framework, principles and performance as set out in the fine print of the blueprint to growth.
Who knows? Most of that could be adding up, but the performance review and subsequent reports will tell the story. Either way, we’re in a mess. The sensible thing to do is to take responsibility for changing things and move forward.
But, that requires envisioning a twenty-first century with leadership that embraces visionary needs, strategic planning and guidance for tomorrow’s workforce; suitable thought processes and astuteness to absorb and process arguments that cut across ideology with methods that actual works.
This is not complicated and it shouldn’t be all that hard, to extend a sense of responsibility that transcends fiction, and is committed to building a nation on the principles that contribute to socioeconomic development.
At this juncture it is time to trash antiquated ideology and bring to the table ideas, experience, creative imagination, values and results-driven solutions into positive change, to improve the quality of life of citizens and to advance a new era.
n July 2008 The Governor of Turks and Caicos – representing the UK Government – appointed a Commission to conduct an Inquiry into “possible corruption or other dishonesty” in Turks and Caicos Government with Premier Michael Misick and his ministers.
Hearings were held – presided over by His Lordship, Mr. Justice Sir Robin Auld – in January of 2009, concluding in February of the same year.
In August 2009, His Excellency, then the Governor of the Turks and Caicos islands, Gordon Wetherell brought into force an Order in Council suspending portions of the Turks and Caicos Islands Constitution. Under this move Ministerial Government, and the House of Assembly – which is the only means of representing the people – was dissolved and all representative seats were vacated, with the promise of elections in 24 months. Amongst the astounding changes was that the basic right in the European Declaration of Human Rights to a Trial by Jury was also suspended, and confirmed recently by law. The sole political power in the Turks and Caicos Islands is now the Governor, appointed by the British government. He has appointed an Advisory Council and a Consultative Forum. However, as the appointment documents make clear, the Governor has no obligation to follow or regard their recommendations. This undemocratic move, which is totally inconsistent with Article I of the United Nation’s Charter on the Right to Self-Determination, is still the case in Turks and Caicos, and still, now nearly 3 years later.
My involvement in the Turks and Caicos dates from early 2005. In June of that year we purchased a private island called Dellis Cay, to develop a USD$1 billion project with the Mandarin Oriental Hotel and villas with world famous architects – including Zaha Hadid, David Chipperfield, Kengo Kuma, Shigeru Ban, Piero Lissoni and Carl Ettenspenger. The development proceeded in an unremarkable fashion, with usual succession of planning permits, from the start construction date of June 2008 to October 2009. A mixture of funds from my own resources, sales of residential units and loans from the Trinidad & Tobago Unit Trust Corporation funded the development.
In June of 2008, we bought a second island, Joe Grant Cay, from the Crown (The government of Turks and Caicos), presented the deal structure to the British Governor of Turks and Caicos – who was then His Excellency Richard Tauwhare – with the development agreement signed in November of 2008 by the new Governor, His Excellency Gordon Wetherell, with the objective of developing a resort with Bulgari Hotel and Villas.
In January 2009, in the course of hearings by the Commission of Inquiry, the Premier of Turks and Caicos disclosed political contributions by several businessperson and companies toward his party’s elections, two years before, in 2007. He disclosed a political contribution made by our company as well; which is normal all over the world, including in Britain.
Neither the Inquiry, nor the Judge, nor the Governor made any request of me or my representatives to provide answers about these contributions. Yet, our actions were remarked upon adversely in the Commission’s report.
In June 2009, we asked the High Court of Turks and Caicos Islands to undertake a Judicial Review of the Final Report of the Commission of Inquiry, with the result that the Supreme Court called for the removal of any and all adverse references to my or our companies. In his ruling the Chief Justice agreed with us, that there was a “Clear and almost total failure by the Commission to follow its own procedures”. His Lordship stated further that I had not been given a fair hearing, and said that if any adverse statements were included in the Final Report, they should not be published.
It must be understood that even though this court is in Turks and Caicos, it is an English court, applying English law and procedures. Yet, four (4) weeks later, in July of 2009, the Final Report was published, with text unredacted, so that the adverse statements made about me and my companies, which were judged to have been unfair and unlawful, were made public; even after the Chief Justice ruled they should not be published.
Despite my attempts to cooperate and assist the lending bank for our projects to understand the issues relating to the Commission of Inquiry and their unlawful published reports, it was no longer possible to avoid the entrance into Receivership of the Dellis Cay project in favour of the Trinidad and Tobago Unit Trust Corporation in October 2009.
This failure of the Commission to follow the law has therefore done me harm because I provided personal guarantee to the Trinidad and Tobago Unit Trust Corporation.
Since that time – January 2010 – the bank has obtained a worldwide freezing order against me. The Attorney General of Turks and Caicos issued a Writ and Statement of Claim regarding Joe Grant Cay in July 2010.
I have appealed both actions.
After three (3) years, in October 2011, I was finally able to explain my side of the allegations of bribery for the political contributions above. In the meantime, my assets in Dellis Cay and the assets of buyers in that development have been destroyed; even though I have never bribed anyone in Turks and Caicos, or anywhere else.
Now after 10 months of this voluntary statement in Istanbul the Prosecution Team (SIPT) obtained an arrest warrant and a Red Notice through Interpol.
I am innocent.I did not received any benefits for any of my political donations.
I have been made a victim of the politics of Turks and Caicos. In English law, the saying is that “justice must not only be done, but it must be…seen to be done”. I speak now to warn that this is not the case in Turks and Caicos and to say that human rights, and property rights, democracy and justice are under threat in Turks and Caicos.
Dr Kinay practiced medicine at the General Hospital of Vienna in Austria. He received his PhD from the University of Vienna Medical School in 1984. He is a Turkish and Austrian Citizen, Belonger of Turks and Caicos Islands. In 1987, Magister Oguz Serim, his other Austrian citizen partner, and Dr Kinay set up a tour operator by the name of Gulet Touristik, the largest tour operator in Austria. In 1990, they founded the Magic Life Group. Magic Life owned and managed luxury properties in Turkey, Greece, Tunisia, Spain, Egypt and Bulgaria. In 1997,they established a further tour operator, Gulet Touropa Touristik. In 2004, they sold Magic Life and Gulet Touristik to the German tour operator TUI AG, one of the world’s largest tour operators.
Dr Kinay is widely recognized for his contributions to the travel industry, In 1996 he was lauded as Austria’s “Tourism Manager of the Year” and in 1997, as “Man of the Year” and Finally on 2007, he has been honored with “State Medal Of Austria”.
I understand that Sotheby’s has been instructed to act for the Government, and has placed the 200 acres parcel 30101/25 of Joe Grant Cay on the market for sale at US$9.95 million. The parcel was recovered last year for the government following a claim by the Civil Recovery Team against my companies. I appealed the decision. The Appeal Court will decide later this year whether the Court’s decision was just and fair, as it was not.
The people of Turks and Caicos Islands must know that according to the Court documents submitted by the Attorney General:
on 7 November 2006, Mr Shaban Hoza, Government’s own valuation officer, reported a freehold value of this land for commercial use to be $230,000 per acre, but advised that the Government (or the Crown) could negotiate a price of up to $330,000 per acre. Those figures produce a valuation of between US$46 million and US$66 million for this 200 Acres land for commercial use ;
on 10 June 2008, this time Mr Hoza has produced a valuation of US$50 million for this 200 acres land for commercial use .
The Attorney General has quoted these valuations to build the Government’s case against our companies. The Court on the other hand, disregarded the Government appointed BCQS Limited’s US$3.2 million valuation for this 200 acres land for commercial use which was the basis for our purchase of Joe Grant Cay through our companies back in June 2008.
Now they are attempting to sell it at US$9.95 million.
The Government owes to TCI people, to declare the true value of the 200 acres of Joe Grant Cay, is it worth USD 50 million? US$250 million ? Or US$3.2 million that BCQS, a reputable Caribbean commercial firm has reported when they worked for the Government to confirm what must be the fair market price of this 200 acres?
If US$50 million is true, somebody is going to benefit US$40 million of Turks and Caicos People’s money.
If US$3.2 million is true, the Government should give us back our land,, that it claimed we bought at undervalue at the absence of a Development Agreement, in the midst of Worldwide economic crisis.
In any case, The Government must immediately stop the illegal sale of the 200 acres of Joe Grant Cay. This land is still the subject of an upcoming appeal between our companies and TCIG.
I appeal His Hon. Governor Richi Todd to suspend the sale of 200 acres of Joe Grant Cay. I also appeal to Sotheby’s Turks and Caicos Islands to immediately stop the sale of this land, which is still in dispute. I appeal to Temple Trust, to wait the results of the upcoming appeal.
Joe Grant Cay is a remote uninhabited cay located in a remote section of the archipelago between Middle Caicos and Easy Caicos, accessible only by sea. This Cay has no dock, no road, no electricity, no water neither any form of other infrastructure. The cay is composed mainly of consolidated rock with the ocean frontages consisting of either sand or “iron shore”. The elevation is low and the shallow water depths at some parts of the island for do not allow visitors to access other areas.
In 2008, We took a huge risk when we decided to invest into this property encouraged by his Hon. Governor Tauwahare, and ex Chief Minister Michael Missick.
I condemn the statements of certain people who claim that Joe Grant Cay will pay off TCI’s US$ 260 million debt to the UK. The best 200 acres of beach front parcel of Joe Grant Cay is up for sale US$9.95 million and it is unlikely that it will meet any buyer, unless the Government promise a preferential Development Agreement never seen before, with huge subsidies. Perhaps a preferential Development Agreement is already on the table, and the lucky buyer is already known. We will see what will come up behind the decision to sell this land so swiftly, without waiting the result of the appeal.
Dellis Cay and Joe Grant Cay Development Agreements:
Whether the Government has on the offer a preferential Development Agreement to the new buyer of Joe Grant Cay’s 200 acres, our Development Agreements had nothing unusual in them.
My companies have invested in Mandarin Oriental Dellis Cay and Joe Grant Cay projects since 2005 until August 2009. We were the largest investor of TCI history.
We have bought Dellis Cay at the time of His Hon. Tauwhare in June 2005 for USD 18 million from Mrs Dini Zingone. This deal was the largest private deal in TCI. I signed Dellis Cay’s development agreement dated July 2005 with Hon. Governor Tauwhare.
Further, on June 2008, we bought 200 acres of Joe Grant Cay island after 1,5 years of negotiations directly with the Attorney General, at the prices and terms determined by third parties appointed by His Hon. Tauwhare. On November 2008, our companies signed a Development Agreement for Joe Grant Cay after 2 years of intense negotiations, with the Attorney General. The signature on the Joe Grant Cay Development Agreement belongs to His Hon. Governor Wetherell.
Both Hon. Governors, have executed all Cabinet resolutions for Dellis Cay and Joe Grant Cay throughout their respective terms. I read in the press speculations about the Development Agreements of these projects. I have taken the decision to immediately publish in public both the former Development Agreement executed for Dellis Cay with Mrs. Zingone Dini before me, and the current Development Agreement for Dellis Cay signed by Hon Governor Tauwhare on July 2005.
I will also publish to public the Sale & Purchase Agreement signed by His Hon. Governor Tauwhare for Joe Grant Cay on June 2008, and the Development Agreement signed by His Hon. Gov. Whetherel for Joe Grant Cay on November 2008.
I am all for transparency. Therefore, I invite His Hon. Governor Richi Todd who is currently in office, to disclose all Development Agreements signed by TCI Government for the past 20 years. At the end of the day, these Development Agreements are negotiated and provided to the Investors for the benefit of both the Investors as well as the TCI people. TCI people have a right to know what is going on in these agreements. Why to keep them secret? Why let people speculate? Publish them and show to the people of Turks and Caicos Islands, who got what?
There is not a single developer who did not make a perfectly legal donation to the political parties in the TCI, but I am picked as a victim with a select few other to pay a deer price. I hope one day, all developers will disclose their development agreements and their donations to the political parties. Only then, the TCI people will see the truth.
The Responsibility of the his Hon. Governors
On July 18th 2009, His Hon. Governor Whetherell published the Commission of Inquiry’s Final Report which provided access to the unredacted text that contained our good companies name, ruining our reputation, and causing the banks to pull funding. Later on, His Hon. Governor brought into force the Order in Council suspending parts of the Turks and Caicos Islands constitution. The House of Assembly was dissolved and Members’ seats were vacated. The constitutional right to trial by jury was suspended. Shortly after in October 2009, a receiver was appointed to our project Dellis Cay by TTUTC.
Since then, I am exposed to numerous claims, in breach of my human rights. I am really sorry that two principal players between 2005- 2009 are not in the TCI today. They are the ex Hon. Governors Tauwhare and Whetherel
It is my strong belief that these Hon Governors have caused major damage not only to my companies but also to the TCI people. They have ruined the properties and lives of many people, by abusing their responsibilities.
Governor Tauwhare and Governor Whetherel represented the principal office ruling TCI, and they must be accountable for both good and bad things that happened in the TCI. They have chaired every Cabinet meeting along with the Attorney General. They have executed each and every resolution in the TCI. If the Courts one day, prove there has been “widespread” corruption at TCI, the Governors must surely be hold accountable as well.
I am very pleased that the elections are now proposed and finally we see the possibility to return to democracy after 3 years of interruption. I believe that TCI people deserve democracy and hope that both PDM and PNP will fulfil their responsibility in this respect.
ONE VICTIM OF POLITICS IN TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS
By Hayden Boyce: Publisher & Editor-in-Chief ,SUN TCI
Prominent businessman and Queen’s Counsel Clive Stanbrook is spearheading a team of businesspersons from the Turks and Caicos Islands who are sending a “clear warning” to Britain’s Finance Minister George Osborne that the imposition of a Valued Added Tax (VAT) would be inappropriate and undesirable in this British Overseas Territory.
In a press statement issued from London on behalf of the newly-formed Turks and Caicos Independent Business Council (TCIBC), Stanbrook, who is the group’s chairman, stated: “We are sending a clear message to the British Government. It is the view of virtually the entire business community in the Turks and Caicos that a VAT tax is inappropriate, costly, cumbersome and unnecessary at this stage in the development of these Islands. In the short term it is clear that the existing taxation systems can be relied upon to raise such extra revenue as may be needed. ”
The press release said that the British Government “has a major battle on its hands over the proposed implementation of VAT in The Turks and Caicos islands”, following the formation of TCIBC by a broad group of concerned individuals from all sectors of the economy and business community throughout the TCI.
Stanbrook, is the owner of IGA Graceway, the largest supermarket chain in the Turks and Caicos Islands, and a former partner in the prestigious law firms Misick and Stanbrook. An anti-VAT online petition, (www.ipetitions.com/petition/just-say-no-to-vat) was started on May 29, 2012. Its first signatory was a Fleur Stanbrook, the name of one of Stanbrook’s daughters.
Meantime, the press release quoted a TCIBC spokesman as saying: “We have a common purpose in that we are all unified in our opposition to the introduction of VAT in the Turks and Caicos Islands. We send a clear warning to Chancellor George Osborne that we represent the interests of all the leading businesses in the country and indeed it can be said that our views are representative of virtually every business concern. We are deeply concerned about the expected negative effects of the hasty introduction of VAT into the island’s tax structure. As business professionals we do not have a problem with taxation and recognize the need to fund government.”
The TCIBC said it has a major problem with this particular type of tax and its inappropriate nature for the Turks and Caicos Islands and its unique economy at this time and at this specific point in its young development.
“We believe that the recent gains in economic sustainability will be lost with the imposition of this “boiler plate”, cookie cutter, tax system,” the TCIBC added. “This new VAT tax is not driven by a “grass roots” initiative, but is a politically driven tax imposed upon us by distant bureaucrats based in Europe without effective due process and regard to our specific economy and its future development. One size does not fit all. It is our intention to continue the debate on VAT through wider public education and dissemination of information and to oppose and resist its introduction through whatever legal mechanisms are open to us. This will include public consultations and education through the press, TV and radio.”
The TCIBC noted that this task has already begun with over 3000 people having already signed an on-line petition opposing VAT, adding that many more are joining us daily.
“This is not a done deal as many think. No government or administration can impose any policy upon a community if that community refuses to accept the policy,” the TCIB added.
Discussion on the implementation of Value Added Tax (VAT) in the Turks and Caicos Islands has reached the House of Commons in England.
On June 18th, MP Andrew Rosindell asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is his policy on the introduction of VAT in the Turks and Caicos Islands; and if he will make a statement.
Mr Henry Bellingham, who was recently in the Turks and Caicos Islands to announce that elections will be on November 9th, 2012, replied: “The introduction of VAT is a decision for the Turks and Caicos Islands Government. Their decision was based on thorough research and an assessment that VAT would offer a simpler, equitable and stable revenue source. A decision to introduce VAT was announced in the 2011-12 budget statement. A Green Paper on VAT implementation was published in May and consultation is under way on this.”
Chief Financial Officer Hugh McGarel-Groves in response to a local anti-VAT campaign, said last week that introducing VAT in the Turks and Caicos Islands offers the opportunity to further strengthen the country’s fragile recovery by introducing a simpler, equitable and stable source of Government revenue.
He said: “As the community of the TCI continues to discuss the implementation of VAT, critical questions must continue to be asked of both of the Government but also of the anti-VAT campaigners: what are their alternatives to the benefits of VAT to a renewed TCI; is opposition to VAT borne from a desire to continue not to pay tax at all in some business sectors?
“Given the difficulties endured by the TCI economy since the collapse of the last Government, it is in the best interests of the entire community to ensure that Government finances are secure and that it can continue to develop expenditure plans in line with local peoples’ priorities – a process already begun in this year’s Budget. VAT is a proven system across the Caribbean. It is straightforward to administer and is beneficial here in that this single form of taxation replaces five different sets of ordinances that both Government and business need to keep abreast of.”
The Interim Administration continues to try to have its cake and eat it as well as to operate in a very non-transparent way. When you take into consideration the premise on which they took over the country from the duly elected local representatives, the actions so far have not been to show you how best to get the job done, but how best to carry on the process by which cronyism is the hallmark of the day and picking winners of your own choosing is the best was in which to do business.
The British Government, FOC, DFID, SIPT and the Civil Recovery team declared that the original sale of land by the TCI government to Platinum was a corrupt transaction and as such should be recovered and redound to the benefit of the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands. Steps were taken through the Court system to have the land returned to the Crown and the court agreed that the land should be returned. No sooner than this exercise was completed (Platinum seem not to take an interest in appealing the court’s decision), there seems to be a concerted effort being made to now ensure that the Turks and Caicos Islands’ people do not benefit effective from the return of that land.
The first part of the deception and deceit started with the decision to sell the land to satisfy a mortgage that had been placed on the property by Temple as a result of Platinum borrowing some $2M and using the property as collateral. My understanding of the legal system is that if a leaf of the fig tree is tainted, then the whole tree is tainted. As it relates to this particular transaction, if it was corrupt for Platinum to obtain the land in the first instance, then any subsequent transaction had to be corrupt also.
So why was there a rush on behalf of the Interim Administration to satisfy Temple Mortgage? There can be one inference to be drawn and that is that someone in the Administration or very close to the Administration had something to be gained by the sale of the land by the government to satisfy the debt to Temple!
According to all previous pronouncements by the Interim Administration, all of the land that had been reacquired as a result of some fraudulent activity would be kept in the land bank for future generations to benefit from. So what is the real rush to dispose of this land at this time? Something smells fishy here.
Now in the proper scheme of things, if the Interim Administration had a real reason to dispose of the land for the benefit of the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands, the first thing it should have done was to specifically say so. Following on from that, it should have issued a Request for Proposals. If as they like to claim they are operating in an open and transparent manner, and they want to get the best value for money, that is what would have happen. But they have decided to pick winners from “their side of the ledger”. What is that called? Is it Insider trading? Or is it nepotism? I thought those were the common faults and flaws identified by Sir Robin Auld as being part of the systemic weakness and corruption in the previous political administration that had to be rooted out. But like Courtney Missick likes to say, corruption has only changed its colour, from black to white!
Now let us look at the local firm that got to market and sell the 200 acres of land on Joe Grant Cay. It is Sotheby’s and its local affiliate is Connolly-Zahm! Is it just coincidental that one of the principals of Connolly-Zahm if Mrs. Josephine Connolly, the wife of Advisory Council member Joseph (Joe) Connolly? As Ernie Clarke likes to say “I have the documents”. I will definitely like to see the documents showing that there is no nexus at all!
The old Finance and Audit Ordinance and Financial Instructions, followed by the now brand new Public Finance Management Ordinance, all speak to a transparent process with respect to the procurement of services by government.
As I have indicated before, there should have been a tendering process set up and the firm with the best proposal selected to carry out the work. The worst case scenario would have been to short-list say six of the local real estate firm that have international connections and ask them to submit proposals, I could live with that. I would have thought that that would have given me some piece of mind that I would have been getting value for money.
What I still cannot fathom is how the governor fixed his mouth to call the initial land transaction of Joe Grant cay corrupt and it had to be returned to the people, but no sooner was that done, he is out there secretly trying to sell that asset. Something untoward must be afoot here. I just cannot for the life of me understand the amount of double standard that is being used by this Interim Administration, save to say that a concerted effort is being made dispose of everything of value that belong to us, in a manner that they feel and say that it is in our best interest so to do.
I have never seen so many thing done in my best interest, that am totally opposed to as is happening with these bumbling idiots at the helm. As time progresses, everyone is seeing that the Emperor has on no clothes and is operating in a clueless manner.
How the Interim Administration hopes to be able to get away with such blatant disregards for the rules that they say they came here specifically to enforce and demonstrate the ethics of doing things in the proper manner?
However, what they have and are demonstrating to us is that what we were doing was child’s play and they are certainly showing us how bad business should operate. That does not give us faith and comfort in these operators. That is why on the streets there is now total skepticism as to the real reason the intervention took place.
We must by now be in a position to determine for ourselves that what is currently being done to us is neither right nor fair! The reset button has now been pushed by the setting of the date for elections. We should all go out and get registered so that we can send a clear and unambiguous message to the Interim Administration that business as usual will not be the order of the day. Joe Grant Cay has not been sold as yet and it is not too late to restart the process on a proper footing.
There cannot be a rush as there is a surplus budget proposed, so the money from the sale is not critical to our financial position except that the Interim Administration is hell bent of getting from under the loan guarantee as quickly as possible and to hell with whatever adverse consequence to the Turks and Caicos Islands people!
The People’s Democratic Movement (PDM) kicked off its political campaign Wednesday night, April 11, with a high-energy rally at its headquarters down town Providenciales, to drum up support among its base and the wider public in anticipation for elections this year, also using the event to express its readiness to take the reins of government once again.
Distributing party campaign T-shirts with a call for elections this year emblazoned across the front, many of the speakers, including party leader Derek Taylor, announced that a PDM Government would reverse majority of the laws now being implemented by the Interim Administration, while easing the current economic and social burden now being faced by the populace.
Taylor announced that the 10-year vision that the PDM crafted for the country sometime ago, which would bring prosperity for all the people of the country, was still relevant, and would be used as a vehicle in the party’s pursuit for political office.
He said that the PDM would reopen the civil service for employment, while balancing the budget without putting the people under duress, a feat he said was accomplished in the past by that party. Taylor said also that he would introduce legislation to create a development bank so that local businesses would be able to access loans at cheaper interest rates, while seek to introduce an equal pay law, so as to create income parity in the respective categories within the job market.
Party members said the PDM would also revisit the InterHealth Canada contract, which they said was not serving the best interest of Turks and Caicos Islanders, especially those who had lost their jobs. They said also that the Immigration and Labour laws would also be put under the microscope so as to safeguard the borders, while giving Turks and Caicos Islanders a fair shake in the job market.
“We envision a Turks and Caicos Islands with long term economic stability, and that can only happen under a People’s Democratic Movement government. We are not going to have this nonsense again,” Taylor said, referring to the economic abyss in which the country has found itself. “And we are going to engage each other every step of the way. You are going to have a government that is open, that you can challenge, that you can honestly sit down and talk to.”
“We envision a vibrant economy of Turks and Caicos Islanders that are able to sustain and exceed the growth of the past. And we envision a Turks and Caicos Islands where a strong economy and social empowerment are the order of the day for all Turks and Caicos Islanders.
“We will introduce equal pay legislation, to ensure that all workers are paid based on the work performed rather than on race, colour, gender or national origin. This will give further emphasis to what have already been expressed in the Constitution of the Turks and Caicos Islands,” Taylor said.
Addressing the issue of setting up a financial institution that would provide Turks and Caicos Islanders, especially those who would be able to access loans from commercial banks, with loans at cheap interest rates, Taylor declared: “In 2003, we had already engaged the Caribbean Development Bank; we had already engaged European investment bank, with the intention of making sure that Turks and Caicos Islanders and Turks and Caicos Small businesses are able to access loans at lower interest rate.
“We are going back and we are going to engage those two financial institutions – one in the Caribbean and the other in Europe with the intention of lowering the interest rate, and we are going to again legislation for a development bank.”
In the meantime, the PDM Leader lashed TC Invest for not serving the interest of small businesses, stressing that the interest rate that it was imposing was higher than that of commercial banks.
“TC Invest was not put in place to make a profit at the expense of our people. Yes, we have to take care of administration overheads, but there should be no reason why the interest rate from TC Invest should have been higher than the commercial banks.
Taylor said also that a PDM government would utilize the Small Business Enterprise Development Centre to provide training for small business entrepreneurs and those facing problems in their businesses.
On the matter of education, Taylor pointed out that monies collected from the private sector for scholarships would be placed in a special fund by his administration, that would go solely towards its intended purpose, instead of funneling into the consolidated fund, which he said was the current practice.
“We are going to make sure that the private sector contribution towards scholarships would be placed in a special fund as we had it before, in order that you can know exactly the contribution from the private sector towards scholarships, and we are going to make sure that the private sector businesses benefit from the same also.
“Under a Derek Taylor administration, you can go sleep and wake up in the morning knowing that the public purse is intact, and it would not be attacked. You can rest assured that there will be responsibility and accountability,” he said.
Among the other speakers at the event were National Chairman, Reuben Hall; National Treasurer, Dwayne Taylor; National; Secretary General, Euwonka Selver; her father and former deputy leader of the party Clarence Selver; Cheryl Astwood-Tull; O’Neil Delancy; and Samuel Harvey.
published in SUN,Turks and Caicos Islands 17th of April