DON’T SPEAK TO TODD,APPEAL TO BELLINGHAM

By Royal S. Robinson, MBE

This past Sunday, which was Fathers’ Day, I attended an appreciation service for “Pops”, “Art” or “Butterfield” as he is called and Momma, Aunt Cita as she is called.
It was truly a service where the roses were given while the persons are alive and kicking and could appreciate it, rather than when the cold icy hands of death have touched them and they cannot hear the accolades!  But in all of that, what was really touching for me was the Sermon preached by Rev. Derek Hamilton. Of particular importance to me were the works captioned above! In our present context, the Reverend coined it correctly.
We must in the end remember that Governor Todd is only a messenger and that the real decision makers are in London. He acts as the conduit for transmitting information between us, the governed and the masters in White Hall! We must be cognizant of the fact that sometimes the message gets twisted in the translation and transmission. So in some instances we cannot always take the “shoot the messenger approach”. I know that at times I have been guilty of that especially at times when the messenger seems to be speaking with forked tongue.
The Progressive National Party, having solved its leadership battle, will soon be announcing its slate of candidates, first for the “At Large” seat, and subsequently for the other 10 single member constituencies. With the People’s Democratic Movement going through a similar exercise by the end of the month, the people will begin to see how both sides are shaping up.
Following on from that, must come a position paper that both parties can agree on, and that must be given a public hearing here in the Turks and Caicos Islands so the “buy in” and ownership at home are assured. Once that is done, it must be proclaimed far and wide as the united position of the people of this country. I know that it is not going to be easy as both sides in the past looked at each other with suspicion for whatever reason. But having come through the bruising crucible meted to us by this imposing Interim Administration, clearly, there are a number of issues on which the parties can and must agree on in the interest of the people of this country.
I think that for too long we have, by our own pettiness allowed the Interim Administration to hold sway in our country to the equal detriment to both parties and the people. We have to remember that these people are masters of “divide and rule” as they invented and subsequently perfected that process which allowed them to have had one of the greatest empires of any of the colonizing powers. Do you remember the saying that “the sun never sets on the British Empire”? That was by design and not an accident. So it is incumbent on all of us to come together for the common good of the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands. It certainly cannot in anyone’s wildest dream be “business as usual”.
We have to fully understand who we are dealing with and make our plans accordingly. Now in London, even though Minister Bellingham is the point man for the Overseas Territories, it is, in our case right now, that the DFID Minister, Alan Duncan who wields the real power. He is the one responsible for getting the loan guarantee in place and for driving the process to ensuring that there is no contingent liability that the British have to deal with, with respect to us.
Every piece of legislation, particularly the CFO bill is geared to ensure that outcome. So do not let us be blindsided by any of the platitudes that might be emanating from these people. They are the masters of disguise! In our present circumstances, do you see who they have sent to be the top man here? The man, as part of his career profile was and in all probability is a spy. That is not any news out of school!
They have been sowing the seeds of distrust among our people towards one another. We have to beat back that nonsense and see it for what it is. It is nothing more than a ploy to continually justify their existence here. Nothing more, nothing less!
All of these platitudes are nothing more than that. All they have been trying to do and succeeding to a great extent is “thiefing our sense”. At this juncture in our political and educational life, we cannot allow that stupidity to be perpetrated on us and we are lapping it up like it is some manner falling from Heaven.
It is time that we away those nonsense theories and get down to real basics. We have a county to build. It has been clearly demonstrated to us that the British are not really interested in helping us to build this country. All of their previous actions and those of today speak clearly to that fact. Flawed in some ways as the scholarship programme might have been, it least we can say that a large number of students availed themselves of the opportunity and made good on being granted the privilege.
A case in point is Dr. Harvey, who has returned as a dentist. Had the British been in place during those days, he would not have been able to avail himself of such a scholarship as that profession was like many others not appropriate to the needs of Turks and Caicos Islands.
All of the major advances that this country has made were done so when we had a duly elected government, by the people and for the people. Do not for one brief moment lose sight of that fact. In the recent “surplus budget” that was just unveiled in the Consultative Forum, Stevie Wonder and members of the Forum saw that the priority areas were not in sync with what the general public wanted, even though it was said that that was in our best interest. Old John C. said “far be the thought”!
These people have been winning the public relations battle in the world’s court of public opinion. The first real shot across their bow came from the Anglican Bishop Boyd who is responsible the flock of the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands. Make no mistake about it, that was a shot that rang true and home. No matter what they have tried to say to the contrary, and no matter how much spin they have tried to put on it, the dagger stuck home. While it is still in place, we have to turn the handle for every ounce of what it is worth!
Our campaign for fairness and equality can start at our shores, but must equally be waged in the Caribbean, but more importantly in London. So I end at the point on which I began, forget Todd, we have to carry the fight to Bellingham, Duncan and the steps of Number 10 Downing Street. Nothing an Englishman hates more than being embarrassed, particularly on his door steps!

PUBLISHED IN SUN TCI

MR STANBROOK TAKES ANTI-VAT FIGHT TO UK

 

 
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 Sale of Joe Grant

By Royal S. Robinson, MBE

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!

published in Sun TCI

Independence Is Up To The People of Turks and Caicos

Mr Henry Bellingham
INDEPENDENCE for the Turks and Caicos Islands is up to the people, according to Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), Mr Henry Bellingham.

There has been much talk about an independent TCI by local politicians and Progressive National Party (PNP) leader, Dr Rufus Ewing, last week confirmed that independence will be a part of his platform going forward.

An independent TCI is appealing for many TC Islanders who are disgruntled with the Brits after three years of interim administration rule.

Bellingham, in an interview with the Weekly News, acknowledged the people’s sense of dissatisfaction, but noted that the decisions made by the interim administration were in the interests of a better TCI in the long-term.

“We have had to make some tough decision so I can understand the interim administration was somewhat unpopular,” he said.

The Under Secretary noted that these decisions are what will allow the new TCI Government to take over a very strong position, with a reformed public service, a budget surplus and a new constitution.

ESTABLISHED ROUTE
He said the new constitution sets out clearly what needs to be done if the TCI people decide they want to be an independent nation.

“There is a well-established framework in the constitution for the TCI people to have self-determination,” Bellingham said.

However, he stressed the need for decision makers to be realistic.

He said, “It will have to be a transition to have home rule, we have elections coming up and that is one step toward what is looking to be a bright future for the TCI.”

The Under Secretary added that the United Kingdom government in their White Paper, which will be published shortly, shows commitment to its territories.

Bellingham said, “We will invest in our territories to make our partnership a true reality.

“We want to give the territories a bankable proposition, for example, so that when they go into the capital markets they have all the support, partnership and protection they need.

“We believe that the Overseas Territories benefit a great deal from the UK, it is a mutually beneficial partnership.

“But we also make it clear in the White Paper that the future of the people is in their own hands and so we believe in self-determination, we are not neutral on this.”

According to him, once there is a majority vote in Parliament, a referendum will follow and independence will be granted to the TCI because it is the wish of the people.

He said, “It is very simple, the people of the TCI, if they want independence it is up to them, self-determination means exactly that.”

CHECKS AND BALANCE
Until then, Bellingham maintained that there will be some checks and balances in place to support good governance and accountability, for example with the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) ordinance.

Having a CFO appointed by the UK was one of the conditions set by the UK government in the provision of the $260m loan guarantee, which was agreed on in 2010.

Without the guarantee, it would not have been possible for TCIG to access the funding it needed to function and to provide public services.

The agreement allows for the CFO to be retained for as long as any UK loan guarantee is in force – currently up to 2016.

The Under Secretary said once the loan is repaid and the guarantee is no longer needed a UK appointed CFO will no longer be a condition, a fact corroborated by the current CFO, Mr Hugh McGarel-Groves.

Bellingham said, “Working together we can achieve a great deal…the future is very bright for the TCI.”

Asked if the UK wanted to retain control of not only the TCI, but also the five other British Overseas Territories in the Caribbean, he reiterated that the UK supports self-determination.

Along with the TCI, the other Overseas Territories include Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands and Montserrat.

Bellingham stressed that the future of the people is in their own hands.

NOT READY
Retired politician and former PNP Leader, Mr Daniel Malcolm, maintained that this is a future that the TCI is not ready for.

“Self-determination is where the government and the people of TCI, and other territories like us, make advances toward greater political, social and cultural determination or say within the framework of their own situation,” he said.

Malcolm contended that the Turks and Caicos Islands is much too young for independence, but noted that achieving a measure of self-determination is a move in the right direction.

He said, “We are at least 10 years away from being ready for independence…we must develop our country and our people so that when we move to independence we will do so from a position of strength.”

According to him, the ultimate goal of decolonisation is independence, but there are other options that can be looked at on that road, such route taken by Bermuda.

Bermuda is a self-governing British overseas territory in the western North Atlantic Ocean.

The original system of government was created under the Virginia Company, which colonised Bermuda, accidentally in 1609, and deliberately from 1612.

The country’s 1968 Constitution provided the island with formal responsibility for internal self-government, while the British Government retained responsibility for external affairs, defence, and security.

The Bermudian Government is always consulted on any international negotiations affecting the territory.

Legislative power is vested in both the government and the Parliament.

Currently, most of the Overseas Territories have a House of Assembly, Legislative Assembly (Cayman Islands), or Legislative Council (Montserrat) with political parties.

The Executive Council is usually called a cabinet and is led by a Premier or a Chief Minister (in Anguilla), who is the leader of the majority party in parliament.

The Governor exercises less power over local affairs and deals mostly with foreign affairs and economic issues, while the elected government controls most ‘domestic’ concerns.

Malcolm maintained that the road ahead will be a long one, but with the right expertise and strategic moves, the TCI will be in a position of strength when the time comes for it to take its place as a nation independent of the UK.(Vanessa Narine)

published in Turks and Caicos Weekly News

Elections on 09th of November in Turks and Caicos Islands

 

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General elections, which will return the Turks and Caicos Islands to self-rule, will be held on November 9, 2012.
This was announced by the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs William Hague in London on Tuesday June 12th.

“I am pleased to inform the House that the interim government in TCI, led by the Governor and supported by TCI and UK public servants and specialist advisers, has made significant progress with an ambitious reform programme. We now judge there has been sufficient progress, on the milestones and on putting in place robust financial controls, to set 9 November as the date for elections,” Hague said.

Turks and Caicos Ready for Independence

Ewing says TCI ready for independence

NEWLY elected leader of the Progressive National Party (PNP), Dr. Rufus Ewing, contends that the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) is ready for independence.

Ewing, speaking at a press briefing at the PNP Headquarters on Wednesday, noted that the party has taken a resolution to support the move towards independence.

He made it clear that the PNP is pro-independence and going forward any moves the party makes will take into consideration an independent TCI.

The PNP Leader acknowledged that there are a few things that can be improved on before the step towards independence is taken.
According to him, the people need to be educated on the pros and cons of independence.

However, he reiterated that the TCI has long been ready to assert itself independent of the United Kingdom.

Ewing stated that before any decision is taken the views of the people have be taken into consideration, adding that the new PNP will move towards an approach that seeks to increasingly involve the people of the TCI in decision-making.

When asked about a possible timeframe for the attainment of independence, the PNP Leader noted that because this is something that needs to be approached strategically, setting a timeframe would be premature, particularly considering that the return to democratic rule has not been confirmed to happen this year.

Ewing said in going forward, independence has to be planned and strategically implemented in stages to achieve the vision leaders have for the TCI.

He maintains that independence is not to be rushed.
In a prior interview in April, Ewing made it clear that independence is ultimately up to the people, adding that developmental milestones that are advanced by an elected government will indicate the country’s readiness for independence.

“My duty is to prepare the people for that day,” he said then.

10 YEARS AWAY
Former PNP Leader and retired politician Daniel Malcolm addressed the issue of independence in an interview with the Weekly News in the latter part of March.

He contends that the TCI is too young for independence, but noted that achieving a measure of self-determination is a move in the right direction.

“We are at least 10 years away from being ready for Independence…we must develop our country and our people so that when we move to Independence we will do so from a position of strength,” he said.

However, Malcolm, like Ewing, stressed that TCI must prepare for that eventuality down the road.

“Self-determination is where the government and the people of TCI, and other territories like us, make advances toward greater political, social and cultural determination or say within the framework of their own situation,” he posited.

The former PNP Leader was recently been invited to join the Special Committee of experts with regard to the implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence of Colonial Countries and Peoples.

This endeavour is supported by the Decolonization Unit of the Department of Political Affairs, which is part of the United Nations (UN) Secretariat, via monitoring the implementation of the Declaration, hearing statements from the non-self governing territories, organizing an annual regional seminar and making recommendations regarding the dissemination of information on the decolonization process.

Governor Ric Todd in addressing the issue of independence in the past has said unequivocally that the United Kingdom would grant independence to the TCI, if that were the choice made by the TC people. (Vanessa Narine)
published in TCI Weekly News on 12th of June 2012

British Minister Bellingham Pays surprise Visit To Turks and Caicos

 

PROVIDENCIALES, Turks and Caicos Islands — Britain’s minister with responsibility for the Overseas Territories, Henry Bellingham, arrived in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) on Monday, on a previously unannounced visit, accompanying Governor Ric Todd on his return from a five-day trip to the UK to consult on the progress towards the “milestones” previously set down by Bellingham.

These milestones must be completed or clearly on the road to completion before Britain will agree to elections being resumed in the TCI to return a democratically chosen government to replace the current interim administration by Britain following the imposition of direct rule in 2009.

Hopes are high locally that the purpose of the surprise visit by Bellingham will address this issue of elections.

One of the issues relating to the election is voter registration, which is moving much more slowly than expected. 

In the last election of February 2007, almost 7,000 people turned out to cast their votes. As of this week, only approximately half of this number has registered, with a registration deadline at the end of June.

In addition to the 7,000, it is estimated that approximately 2,000 more TC Islanders have come of age and are therefore qualified to vote. It is, however, not known how many of the past voters may now be excluded under the new registration qualifications. 

Another problem being reported is the slowness in the issue of the required birth certificates. The presentation of an original birth certificate must accompany each voter registration.

One Providenciales resident, who is a former candidate for public office, has made several visits to the government offices in Provo attempting to expedite his birth certificate, which he applied for six weeks ago. While the interim government has since reduced the cost of the certificates from $40 to $20, this prospective voter had already paid his $40. 

Another factor affecting the election is the current status of the political parties. The Progressive National Party (PNP) has had its senior executive gutted as a result of criminal charges brought against its former leader, five former ministers and one backbench member, who are scheduled in court next month to answer various allegations of bribery, corruption, money laundering and related charges. 

However, the PNP now appears to be ahead of the other main party, the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM), in setting up its new executive in anticipation of resumed elections.

While former chief minister Derek Taylor was elected to lead the PDM in November last year, it now appears he may not survive a strong challenge by another former chief minister, Oswald Skippings. Sources within the party, most media commentators and other local observers believe that, due to Taylor’s recent inactivity, he must be replaced. It also appears that, if Skippings is successful, this could signal a change in other elected and appointed party executives.

 published in Caribbean News Now on 12th of June.

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