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Press Statement from Michael Misick in Prison Brazil

Press Statement from Michael Misick in Response to the AG Statement
Published in TCI POST on 01st February

I have read with amazement the comments of the Attorney General Huw Sheppard as to why I cannot return home voluntarily.
Firstly, I nor my legal representatives have ever given any previous assurance of my return nor was I ever ask to show up at any police station at any given time to answer any questions.
Sometime during 2011 my legal representatives received a letter from Helen Garlick saying that she would be inviting me to return for questions. My lawyer responded by asking for full disclosure and subjects of the questions so that I could be prepared to answer them. My lawyer never received full disclosure or the subject matter of the questions.
The next time I heard anything from SIPT or Helen Garlick was in February 2012 when they issued an Interpol Red Alert for my arrest. By that time, because of my belief that I could not get a fair trial and that me and my colleagues are being prosecuted for our political beliefs I had already applied for political asylum in Brazil. Once the Red Alert was issued, I was stuck in Brazil and could not travel home freely. There was no window of opportunity given to me to voluntarily show up.
I am a political prisoner having been arrested illegally at the request of the Attorney General Huw Shepheard and the British Government and documents they filed in the Brazilian Supreme Court requesting my detention and extradition to the Turks and Caicos Islands. For that reason, the only way that I can be released from prison is if the AG and the British Government withdraw the prison order and agree to my voluntary return. My stay in jail is not up to the Brazilian authorities as the AG asserted but it is up to the TCI Attorney General Huw Shepheard, Special Prosecutor Helen Garlick and the British Government.
In spite of still holding the belief that I cannot get a fair trial, I and my lawyers have offered for me to voluntarily return home in exchange for the AG and the British Government withdrawing my prison order. I was arrested on December 7th 2012. Today is Janurary 27th 2013. If the AG and others were truly interested in me coming home to face justice why for almost 60 days they had not made the official request for my extradition or accepted my offer to voluntarily return home?
It is obvious that the delay is about revenge and my continued political prosecution, they want to punish me by keeping me locked down in a maximum security prison in Brazil for as long as they can. Reality is that I have applied for political asylum in Brazil and there is a Red Alert out for me so how am I a flight risk? Why would I abandon my asylum application and leave Brazil? In fact I cannot do anything without the AG and Helen Garlick agreement to lift the Red Alert.
By these facts I again call on the AG and Helen Garlick, if they are truly interested in fairness and justice, to allow me to come home voluntarily so that I can answer questions and begin to prepare my defense since they have already decided that I will be charged even before asking me the first question.
It makes no sense to waste more of the TCI tax payers time and money on a long and drawn-out extradition process. The AG knows that extradition is a process and that the process must be followed wether I consent to be extradited or not. I have publicly declared my willingness to come home voluntarily, I am interested in justice. I am interested in coming home to clear my name.
The Ag and others can facilitate my speedy return so I can face their justice or they can continue to make excuses and continue their prosecution of me and punishing me without a trial by leaving me in jail in Brazil because they are upset that I did not return home a year ago. This is revenge, not justice. The choice is theirs not the Brazilian authorities.
I could be home to face whatever charges they choose to place on me in 24 to 48 hours of the AG and the British Government agreeing to my voluntary return.
There is recent president for this in England where at least one high profile prisoner did agree to voluntarily return there to face charges after being away for many years. My situation is no different from theirs.
It is highly unusual for a person that is a country’s most wanted to want to voluntarily return and the authorities of that country refusing to accept him or to expedite his return.
Something is wrong with this picture. It is up to you Mr. Attorney General.
Michael Misick
Former Premiere of the Turks and Caicos Islands
From Prison
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
27-01-2013

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Categories
News

VAT Discussions in Turks and Caicos.PNP Government against VAT

FORMER PNP GOVERNMENT WAS NEVER IN SUPPORT OF VAT

By Floyd Hall – Former Minister of Finance
Published in SUN TCI

It is most gratifying to see that the two political parties and the business community have finally gotten together to unify around a common cause in the best interest of the people of the Turks & Caicos Islands.

Sadly though, it seems as if it has taken the British Governor and the FCO stepping on the toes of some people or some groups directly before they could appreciate the gross injustice that has been meted out on this beautiful country before unified action is taken. Having said that, it is a good thing that we have achieved some modicum of cohesion, even if this may only be for the benefit of some business owners’ personal self-interest.

However, I wish to address a point that is dear to me and my former colleagues in that the former PNP administration is being misrepresented by Neil Smith in the Governor’s Office as it relates to his comments on VAT.

In Mr. Smith’s statement to the press on 15 January 2013 addressing the implementation of VAT, he stated that the former PNP Government was in support of VAT. That statement is completely false.

While it is the case that the former PNP had agreed to explore the option of selecting one of four taxation models being imposed on us by advocates for the Organization for Economic Corporation and Development (OECD), the European Union, IMF and the FCO to obtain compliance with international tax standards in our Financial Services Industry and to achieve revenue sustainability, it was never the case where VAT was selected as a done deal for implementation in the Turks & Caicos Islands by our PNP administration.

For Neil Smith to suggest that the noble intentions by our government to search for sustainable revenue streams for our country as an endorsement of VAT is grossly misleading and is typical of how the Governor’s Office has been conducting the affairs of this country for the last three years.

It was in my budget address of 2007 when I first informed the people of the Turks & Caicos Islands about comprehensive revenue reform for our country. A direct quote from that address follows:

“While recent revenue growth has been positive, it is concentrated in a few areas. We need to lessen our dependence on import duties as global tariffs reduction become more commonplace. If we do not do likewise, our competitiveness in attracting foreign investment could be eroded. The current tax regime also needs to be widened if we are to raise the necessary revenue on a sustainable basis to implement our plans. We also need to have a tax regime, which incentivizes positive behaviours and penalizes negative ones. Mr. Speaker, these objectives can be achieved through the introduction of alternative broad based taxes that are elastic, and the introduction of user charges where they can serve to defray costs. The time to act is now – we plan to consider all options.

In this regard, Mr. Speaker, I led a delegation to the Bahamas last week to discuss their revenue regime and strategies, and develop technical cooperation and exchanges in this area. We have already held discussions with the Caribbean Area Regional Technical Assistance Centre (CARTAC) concerning technical assistance to prepare a Tax Policy Study for consideration by government. This study would look at our economic structures, tax regime and recommend reforms to increase revenue yield on a sustainable basis. We are committed to this worthy task. I look forward to keeping this Honourable House and the nation informed of activities in this area.”

I later made a follow up reference to broadening our revenue base in the 2008 budget but never did I offer support for VAT or any other comprehensive tax mechanism. Unfortunately the study referenced to in the 2007 address never materialized as the country was hit by two successive hurricanes in 2008 causing extensive damage throughout the country and the global financial collapse that immediately followed in 2009 made the exercise untenable.

Our administration back in 2007 was asked to consider four different models: income tax, property tax, sales tax and VAT.

Preliminary indications from the business sector at the time suggested that the real estate and hotel industries had no appetite at all for income tax or property tax. It was believed that the real estate market was just getting its legs firmly established and that any form of taxes on income or property would be a serious deterrent to investment and would derail the real estate sector. The sales tax and VAT likewise had vociferous opposition to them albeit less so than the others but never was there any decision nor was there any canvassing of support for one tax over the other by the former PNP administration.

To the best of my knowledge, the deliberate promotion of VAT was only done when the hand-picked members of the Advisory Council and Consultative Forum ill-advisedly passed legislation implementing VAT, Trials With-out Jury, and Hearsay Evidence legislation. My recollection at the time was that there was a public outcry against all three pieces of legislation. The radio talk shows vented the opposition of the people to these Bills and so did the print and televised media.

Ironically some of the very same people who were a part of these hand-picked bodies gave credibility to the same pieces of legislation that they are now vehemently against. Similarly, the very same Governor’s office who seeks to castigate and vilify the former PNP administration at every opportunity it gets now seeks to use this same administration to fortify its promotion of VAT.

There is a popular saying that I believe resonates universally which states “you cannot have your cake and eat it too”. I think this saying applies aptly to the Governor’s Office promotion of VAT as well as those who now oppose it and gave validity to its imminent implementation. I know some will be quick to say that they opposed those pieces of legislation when they sat on those bodies. To that I will use the other popular maxim which states “the devil is in the details”.

However, I believe that the entire country is relieved that the voices that seem to matter are speaking out in unison regardless of the channels that may have brought them to this central point. To that I say thank you to all and sundry as I do wish you success in this worthy undertaking to begin the New Year.

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