Press Statement From Opposition leader Sharlene Cartwright Robinson in Turks and Caicos Islands

Press Statement from Leader of the PDM,Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson on VAT and Other Pressing Issues
Published in TCI Post on 27th February 2013

PRESS STATEMENT
Delivered by Party Leader and Leader of the Opposition
VALUE ADDED TAX
I am pleased at the response to this letter.
Whilst we celebrate we are cognizant of the fact that the Repeal Bill has not been assented to and we deem it important for the people of this country to understand the victory we celebrate and what remains on the Table.
Minister Simmonds’ letter of January 14, 2013 flat out said no to the PNP Government’s request for a delay. Together as a unit on a national issue of grave importance, we now have some breathing room/ the delay (as it were) originally sought by the PNP Government. This we celebrate.
The ball is now in the PNP Government’s hand to meet the conditions set out so that VAT can stop lurking in the shadows. I had expected that the Government in submitting its last letter to Minister Simmonds would have prepared the required Fiscal and Strategic Policy Statement for completeness knowing that this would be requested and which is also required in law before a Budget can be passed so I am disappointed that we are still at this place and I call on the Government to resubmit this as a matter of urgency. We are also aware that the Government in the last Cabinet Meeting in January agreed to restrict expenditure and in the HOA Meeting of February 1, our colleague, Hon Derek Taylor led our position on the issue and made inquiries as to the areas that will be affected by the Government’s decision to accept this path. We again in the interest of transparency now call on the Government to inform the people of this country as to the areas that will be affected.
We are still of the opinion that there must be real efforts to grow this economy and to market this country. The PDM remains committed to this and believe that there must be a meeting of the minds and supporting legislations must be put in place to make TCI more inviting. We believe that the key to moving this country in the right direction is to first elect the Party that has already led in similar times first and then to encourage investment in existing businesses and the encouragement of new ones. We must attract fresh monies and this will also help in the creation of jobs, an issue on which there is now no representation.
While the Bill itself has not been repealed, I say kudos to Backbencher Hon Norman Saunders for bringing the Bill alongside my Private Members’ Motion and I must thank the Appropriations Committee who met without hesitance. I believe the work of this Committee cannot be underrated. To the members of the VAT Implementation Team, this is no indictment on you and I am sure you will do well in collecting the existing taxes. I am pleased that we will finally see the much needed resources in compliance which is what is needed in many aspects of Government.
In getting these type results, it is tempting to get caught up in one’s self and I am careful to not let this be said of me, but this was a marriage of leadership in many fronts and I pay tribute to the Business Sector and the Clive Stanbrook led Independent Business Council, Jerzy of the Private Sector in Grand Turk and the Business community generally who invested in promotional material and also the Study by Prof Teather which helped me in preparing in the Appropriations Committee and in my Party’s Official Position.
VAT taught us many valuable lessons – we must take the time to research issues and I thank Edith Cox for her valuable lecture on the issue and her assistance in preparing members of our Party’s Executive on the issue so that they can educate others and for her assistance in preparing the only written Political Party’s Position on VAT. Proper research and positions must be set out in writing with sound reasoning, (after all this is what we asked of HMG noting that valuable studies and research was nonexistent in support of VAT). We also learn that going it alone is never as strong as coming together – so much more can and was achieved. We celebrate this historic unity of the Government, Opposition and the Business community. The education sponsored by the business community, the HOA’s stance together with the failure of businesses to register made this feat possible.
Lest we forget, we joined the Business Community’s fight and I was glad when my Team was asked to make the statement of the century in TCI Politics. I say thank you to the Opposition members for their support for the Motion drafted only the day before and then of course to the Government for supporting it at that eleventh hour and again to Hon Saunders for seconding it.
This is in all respects a delay until the Government of the day completes its part and we call on the Government to inform the people of this country, in the interest of transparency and good governance on the areas where the spending will be restricted. We await an update on when the revised Fiscal Strategic Policy Statement is submitted.
REINSTATEMENT IN CARICOM
I am pleased that the Turks and Caicos Islands has been welcomed and reinstated as an Associate Member of Caricom. There is much to be gained from our Association. I am disappointed that a more united position was not presented overseas in that an invitation was not extended to the Opposition to be a part of the delegation. I believe that though we are in a Bi Election campaign, there are national and regional statements to be made and the presence of the Opposition would have signaled a strong message. However it is my Party’s intention to govern differently and to at all times present a united position and presence on national issues locally, regionally and internationally.
HEALTH CARE AND AUDITS
In light of the conditions set by Minister Simmons to avert the implementation of VAT in the mean time, the Government has to urgently begin to pay real attention to the health care monster that it has created. We are disappointed that the former Minister of Health misled the people of these Islands when she said that the Audits had already begun. Healthcare costs is the single largest challenge to us next to the repayment of the debt. This country cannot continue as is with the costs and state of healthcare. Aside from being a financial burden, our people are still being turned away. We believe that the PDM has the moral authority to handle this issue and there are many persons that have valuable contributions to be made on the state of healthcare in these Islands. To this end, my Party will be calling a meeting with the Medical Association and other Institutions to meet with them and discuss the all important topic of healthcare. We therefore call on the Government to delay not further and to ensure that the Audits begin and a PDM Government will handle the rest.
UNEMPLOYMENT
Our people remain without jobs and without real opportunities to obtain jobs and to move up in their work place. This Government continues to pay lip service to jobs while our people are sleeping in darkness and cannot feed their families. After three months, no real effort or steps have been taken and the people of this country are disappointed that jobs are not a priority for this Government. We are committed to reducing the level of unemployment in this country and also to the creation of more jobs. We rest on our plans contained in our Blue Print and are ready to take office and govern from Day One.
YOUTH ISSUES
Finally, I wish to say congratulations to Delano Williams and Angelo Garland on their recent accomplishments. Our young athletes continue to make us proud and we remain committed to creating opportunities for studies overseas based on athletics.
As Team Carifta gets ready to represent us, let us support our youth by traveling as a part of the delegation and/or contributing financially to the Team. Sports is an excellent teacher of many valuable lessons and we as a Party remain committed to Sports development as our record has shown through the opportunities provided for youth to compete overseas and the establishment of Sports organisations.
Congratulations to the Little Bees who took part in the National Spelling Bee especially little Trayvon Walkin. There is bright promise for our youth and this is why we must invest time and energy into our youth by providing real opportunities and programs for them.
The PDM remains committed to its contract with them and will be conducting in short order a tour around the Islands to meet with its youth.
I speak now to our troubled youth and applaud the Youth Department and the Youth Parliamentarians for the topic chosen for the upcoming sitting. The topic speaks to the provision of a Juvenile Center where we can assist our troubled youth. There are too many issues that remain underrepresented and we believe that there must be real attention paid to the emergence of gangs and youth in crime. We cannot afford to lose more youth to Prison and a life of under productivity. To this end, I remain troubled at a recent incident that occurred in which a young man was badly beaten. Too many incidences of this sort are not being addressed head on. We must admit that many of our youth are in trouble and many of our parents need help with them. It is time that we admit that and put programs and policies in place to support these homes, our schools and to protect our children sometimes from themselves. I have heard horror stories from our youth about school related incidents and I intend to address them in a more appropriate place. I just want to say to our people that this requires a community effort and we cannot continue to sweep them under the rug and close the doors of our schools to “outsiders” so as to contain the stories and I say no more. I intend, very early in our Administration, to take bold steps and introduce legislation to address many of the “taboo” issues.
The PDM are excited that DESTINY is now giving us and these Islands a chance to elect a PDM Government. We believe that this is a second chance to take this country in the right direction with the right candidate and the right leadership. On Friday March 1, 2013, Oral Selver will be officially nominated by the PDM Party. We support Oral because we know that he is the right man for the job.
Endorsement of Hon Oral Selver
Oral Selver has over 30 years stable employment in the Hospitality Industry. He is an example of hard work, strong work ethics and what one can achieve when they are committed to these ideals. Oral Selver rose from bread boy to bus boy to eventually management level where he championed the cause of the underrepresented and was instrumental in designing the gratuity system at 100% benefit to the hospitality workers. He is an accomplished businessman and a fine example of hard work and how it pays off. We are pleased that Hon Selver has a firm grasp of his national issues as well as his constituency issues and we are honored to have him represent such a diverse constituency and we endorse his constituency plans. He will tell more of his plans during the Destiny Rally.
Today, we officially launch our Endorsement Document for our candidate and we include our priorities for national concerns. This list is not exhausted but we are committed to addressing jobs and unemployment, health care, immigration and education and youth as matters of high priority.
PDM is the right direction. Destiny has given us a second chance. We have strong leadership, solid experience, vision, diverse skills and real plans that will allow us to govern from Day One.
Thank you.
End
Sharlene Cartwright Robinson

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Press Release from the Governor of Turks and Caicos Islands about VAT

Press Release From the Governor’s Office Re-Decision Not To Implement VAT

The UK Government has agreed that VAT will not be implemented in the TCI at this time. The TCI Government and opposition have clearly stated their opposition to the implementation of VAT.
It remains Her Majesty’s Government’s (HMG) view that VAT would provide a more stable, fairer and broader based system of revenue for TCI than that which is currently in place.
The Government of TCI has a responsibility to ensure sound finances in the Territory. This includes constraining expenditure within the legally binding fiscal framework which is now in place and being able to refinance its debts in 2016 without a further UK Government loan guarantee.
The TCI Government will face more difficult choices to ensure stable and sustainable revenues and expenditures in the absence of VAT.
HMG is clear that we will not accept a return to the dire financial situation in TCI which prevailed before the Interim Administration.
FCO Minister, Mark Simmonds, issued a letter to TCI Premier the Hon Dr Rufus Ewing yesterday evening, Mon, 25 Feb 2013. This was also sent to the Leader of the Official Opposition in the TCI simultaneously. This was issued in response a letter from the TCI Premier dated 29 January 2013 which raised a number of concerns about the proposed implementation of VAT in the TCI from 1 April 2013.

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Turkey and Suriname on Trade Mission .

Suriname vice president to visit Turkey on trade mission
Published on February 26, 2013 in Caribbean News

By Ray Chickrie
Caribbean News Now contributor

PARAMARIBO, Suriname — At the invitation of the Turkish government, the vice president of Suriname, Robert Ameerali, will lead his country’s first high-level visit on March 7 to Turkey and hold bi-lateral talks with Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, which is seen as a major boost for a small developing state like Suriname in developing ties with Turkey, an emerging global and economic power that is expect to join the BRICS group soon.

The aim of the visit is to strengthen political and economic relations between the two countries.

Ankara and Paramaribo are expected to sign four trade agreements during Ameerali’s visit. Also, Suriname and Turkey are expected to adopt a visa-free regime for their respective nationals travelling between the two countries.

Ameerali was chairman of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Suriname and has been praised for his advocacy on behalf of Surinamese entrepreneurs. He participated regularly in national, regional and international conferences using his knowledge and experience about entrepreneurship and negotiating missions on behalf of Suriname.

Ankara’s honourary consul in Suriname, Jim Bousaid, and director of the Hakrinbank, said that Turkey is the world’s15th biggest economy and that the country has emerged as a global economic and political power and is very interested in the Caribbean, as well as South and Latin American markets.

According to Bousaid, Turkey would love to invest in Suriname and is interested in the mining, logging and agriculture sectors of Suriname. Suriname in turn is keen to attract foreign direct investments.

“We can make good use of the possibilities, but on the other hand, Turkey is also interested in buying Surinamese products, such as wood,” said Bousaid. According to him, the imports from Turkey are increasing. The products are slightly more expensive than those from China, but they are of a better quality.

A great deal of diplomacy and planning went into this upcoming mission to Ankara. Turkey’s ambassador to Suriname, Ersin Erçin, who is based in Brazil, made over three visits to Suriname to flesh out some of the upcoming agreements that are expected to be signed in Ankara between Suriname and Turkey.

Turkey has since expanded relations with Suriname, Cuba, other Caribbean countries and Latin America. According to Erçin, Suriname is very important for Turkey. Suriname is seen as a bridge to markets in the Caribbean and Latin America. Erçin noted that Suriname will soon assume the chair of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR).

Turkey has already set up an embassy in Havana and will also open an embassy in the Dominican Republic. In addition, Turkey already opened several embassies in South America.

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VAT IMPLEMENTATION FROZEN IN TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS

Published in TCI News Now on 26th of February 2013

VAT implementation frozen

Britain’s Overseas Territories Minister Mark Simmonds wrote to Premier Rufus Ewing on Monday accepting the TCI government’s proposal not to implement value added tax (VAT) on April 1, 2013.

Britain’s minister for the Overseas Territories, Mark Simmonds
Simmonds said that Governor Ric Todd will not give his assent to the Private Member’s Bill to repeal VAT introduced by Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson, opposition leader and leader of the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM).

At the same time, the governor will not sign the commencement notice that would have brought VAT into effect on April 1.

Simmonds went on to issue a strongly worded warning in his letter to Ewing that he cannot and will not allow a reversal of the financial progress achieved by the interim government.

Although the VAT Repeal Bill was passed by the House of Assembly with only the two governor’s appointed members voting against it, a more cogent reason for the freeze on VAT may be the revelations during a recent Appropriations Committee meeting, also chaired by Cartwright-Robinson, which indicated chief financial officer (CFO) Hugh McGarel-Groves and his VAT team were nowhere near prepared for the implementation of the new tax.

It was revealed at the meeting that McGarel-Groves had not yet purchased the software required to operate the complicated tax plan.

Businesses covered by VAT must pay the full tax and then apply for a credit against future taxes by submitting elaborate tabulations of each and every item imported and import duty tax paid.

It became clear as Cartwright-Robinson and other members of the committee questioned the CFO that neither he nor the permanent secretary of finance had studied the issue adequately and was unable to estimate what revenue VAT would raise.

Also revealed was that local businesses had not signed up for VAT. In fact, the Chamber of Commerce itself had come out against VAT.

In related news, Ewing appeared on local television trying to assume credit for the freeze on the new VAT. He said he wanted both the motion and a repeal bill but, after listening to Cartwright-Robinson’s arguments, agreed with her planned course of action.

Ewing on two previous occasions had asked for a delay of VAT and was twice refused.

He said that, if Cartwright-Robinson’s motion and the overwhelming support of the Assembly had not resulted in stopping VAT, he was ready to call for demonstrations.

TCI News Now spoke to Cartwright-Robinson as Ewing’s interview ended and she said it was clear that this has been a PDM issue and that Ewing had tried twice and been refused.

“We have been on record against VAT since early last year and it was our actions in the Appropriations Committee meeting that revealed that VAT had not been considered carefully,” Robinson said.

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ATTORNEY GENERAL IN TURKS AND CAICOS EXPLAINS THE ERROR

Published in TCI Weekly Now on 22nd February 2013

Attorney General Huw Shepheard on Wednesday issued another follow up press release in an attempt to explain why he reacted to a news report on the government radio station. Based on information supplied by family members of former premier Michael Misick, the early RTC news broadcast had announced that Misick had been granted bail and released from a Brazilian prison.

Misick had been arrested in Rio de Janeiro on an international warrant on December 7 last year and had been held in custody pending an application for extradition by Britain on behalf of the TCI.

Shepheard issued his own press release that same morning denying that Misick had been released. Later the same day, Sheapheard issued a second release saying that a Brazilian court had in fact released Misick on bail while extradition procedures were worked through,

In his latest statement, the attorney general says he was incorrectly informed by Brazilian authorities when he issued his first denial of the bail report. Shepheard has again repeated his earlier remarks stating that his office had sent the required extradition documents within the required time frame and Misick’s extradition is pending.

“My initial statement on the release of Michael Misick from custody in Brazil, was truthful to the best of my belief and was based on credible information that had been received from the authorities in Brazil. It turned out that they were mistaken and therefore that I had been misinformed and accordingly I corrected my statement,” Shepheard said.

“I take this opportunity to repeat that the extradition request has been made properly and in accordance with normal law and procedure. The TCIG has met its obligations under the Extradition Treaty to serve the papers on the proper authorities in Brazil within the set time limit. Due process must now be followed, that complies with the Treaty and with Brazilian law,” he added.

Reportedly, Misick had been granted bail because the papers from Shepheard arrived late in Brazil.

Meanwhile, Radio Turks and Caicos is claiming they are a fair and balanced media site. However, the government sponsored station has in the past come in for criticism for employing two well known members of the Progressive National Party (PNP) — current speaker of the house Robert Hall and PNP-appointed House Member Ruth Blackman — to host the Expressions radio show

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CARICOM expressed Grave Concern about Turks and Caicos Islands Affairs

by Hayden Boyce – Publisher & Editor-in-Chief,
Published in Sun TCI on 20th of February 2013

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has expressed “grave concern” about the state of political affairs in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

In fact, the regional leaders are taking matters in this country so seriously that they intend to raise concerns indentified by Premier Dr. Rufus Ewing with representatives of the British Government.

In a communiqué issued at the conclusion of the 24th Inter-sessional Heads of Government meeting held in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, the Caribbean leaders stated: “The Conference noted with grave concern that, though the elections of November 2012 had led to the restoration of representative government, the overall state of political affairs remained less than desirable and the restoration of true democracy was still a far way off. The 2011 constitution, conceived in London and thrust upon the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands when they were without representation, was viewed as a mere by-law for the continuance of direct rule under the pretext of representative democracy.”

The CARICOM report added: “Of additional concern were the challenges emanating from the workings of the justice system in relation to the criminal investigations that followed the commission of enquiry, and what was portrayed as “constant infractions of democratic principles and insults to the ideals of elected government”.

The Conference noted the reaffirmation of the Turks and Caicos Islands Government’s commitment to the Caribbean Community as well as the expressed appreciation for the pronouncements of the Community on the situation in TCI. It was decided to continue to keep the situation under close review and to raise concerns with representatives of the British Government.”

The communiqué said that the conference “received with interest” the address made by the Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands, Dr. Rufus Ewing.

It was the first meeting of the Community at which the Turks and Caicos Islands had been officially represented by a democratically elected Government since the suspension of its constitution in August 2009, and a three-year period of direct rule by the United Kingdom Government.

In his maiden speech to a CARICOM Heads of Government meeting on Tuesday, Premier Ewing called on CARICOM (Caribbean Community), to advocate on the international stage for the full restoration of the institutions of true democracy in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

He also asked regional leaders to “support our (Turks and Caicos Islands) cries for removal of the spectre of colonial influences of the past, as we fight for our rights on our journey towards true self governance and self determination”.

Dr. Ewing’s said then: “The current state of affairs in the Turks and Caicos Islands has the potential to throw our Country into chaos. For so long as I am the leader and principal spokesman of the Government of the Turks and Caicos Islands, I will use every means available to me to ensure that does not happen.”

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Premier of Turks and Caicos Dr Rufus Ewing Address to CARICOM

20130219-210839.jpgTurks and Caicos Islands Premier Dr. Rufus Ewing Address to CARICOM

PREMIER OF THE TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS
HON. DR. RUFUS W. EWING
ADDRESS TO THE CARICOM HEADS OF GOVERNMENT AT THE TWENTY-FOURTH INTER-SESSIONAL MEETING
PORT AU PRINCE
HAITI
FEBRUARY 18th 2013
His Excellency Michel Martelly, President of the Republic of Haiti and Chairman of CARICOM, Hon. Laurent Lamothe, Prime Minister of Haiti, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, Secretary General of CARICOM, Heads of State of CARICOM and other Delegates present, friends all. I bring you greetings on behalf of the Government and people of the Turks and Caicos Islands. I would like to thank the CARICOM Secretariat and you the CARICOM Heads of Government for affording me the opportunity to address this gathering on matters concerning the Turks and Caicos Islands.
It is indeed an honour to be here and I consider it a privilege to address you at this very significant Twenty-Fourth Inter-Sessional Meeting. This meeting is of significance, because it is the first meeting of CARICOM at which the Turks and Caicos Islands is being officially represented by a democratically elected Government since the suspension of our Constitution in August 2009. It is also of significance, because it the first of such meetings to be held by one of our closest neighbours and important trading partner. Given the long relationship between the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands and the people of Haiti, my own father captaining many voyages to Haiti, I feel able to say that Haiti’s membership in CARICOM, is a recognition within the region, of our brotherhood with Haiti. Haiti is a part of us and we are a part of Haiti.
The Turks and Caicos Islands extends its congratulations to His Excellency Martelly and the people of Haiti and do look forward to both our nations growing from strength to strength within the Caribbean Community.
On November 9th 2012, the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands were granted the ability to exercise their democratic right to elect a representative government following a three year period of direct rule by United Kingdom Government. Though these elections have indeed led to the restoration of ministerial government, the overall state of political affairs remains less than desirable in our islands. The restoration of true democracy is still a far way off. In the Turks and Caicos Islands, we are today being governed by a constitution that was conceived in White Hall, and was for all intents and purposes thrust upon the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands, at a time when they were without representation. The 2011 Constitution is merely a by-law for the continuance of direct rule under the pretext of representative democracy.
Distinguished colleagues, friends, we seize the opportunity of this audience to reflect briefly on the evolution of events in our country over the past three years, so that you may better appreciate our realities and come to understand that our yearnings are not unique. The people of the Turks and Caicos Islands, wish simply to serve democracy because they are confident that if they serve democracy, democracy will in turn serve them.
In 2008, a Commission of Inquiry presided upon by a sole Judge; found that there was evidence of systemic corruption, by politicians, senior government officials and co-conspirator developers. The findings of the Inquiry also suggested that there were significant deficiencies within the administrative arm of Government. Following on from his findings, the Commissioner made several recommendations including the investigation of those persons accused of wrong-doing, but more importantly, the suspension of vital parts of our 2006 constitution, allowing for direct rule from the UK by an Interim Administration from August 2009.
During the period of direct rule from the United Kingdom, all power was vested in the office of the Governor, so that he wielded absolute power. The Advisory Council and the Consultative Forum, whose members were appointed by the Governor, were institutions established by the Interim Administration designed to mimic respectively the Cabinet and the House of Assembly. His Excellency was not however bound to take the advice of either body. Under the Direct authority of the United Kingdom Government the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands witnessed the following:
The implementation of new laws such as “The Trial Without Jury Law” and amendments to the laws governing the admissibility of Hearsay Evidence. To the extent that these laws are intended to be retroactive, they erode the confidence in the Judiciary that must underpin every democracy and challenge the very rule of law that the Interim Administration was charged to promote.
The approval of budgets without debate, so that there was no opportunity for the ordinary citizen to influence in any way, how his tax dollar was being spent,
The transfer of protected pension funds from the National Insurance Fund to the Consolidated Fund
The implementation of laws facilitating the imposition of taxation against the wishes of the people
Such were but some the abuses of the United Kingdom Government visited upon the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands in the name of Democracy and Good Governance during the rule of the Interim Government.
Your Excellency, I wish to assure the Community, that the Government and people of the Turks and Caicos Islands are committed to all the principles of democracy and the tenets of good governance. As a Government, we are committed to strengthening where they exist and creating where they do not exist, all those institutions that promote democracy and good governance. Guided by that commitment, the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands by and large welcomed the need for reforms and for the strengthening of governance systems. By and large we acknowledged that the allegations of corruption and maladministration necessitated investigation, we have however, always been concerned that the inquiry was left to a lone Commissioner and we have always maintained that the suspension of our constitution and the establishment of an Interim Administration, was an inappropriate response to the Commissioner’s findings and ran counter to every principle of democracy and good governance.
Our sense of what is right and decent and fair compels us to question even to this day, why it is that former Governor Tauwhare, who was a member of the Cabinet for a significant period of the last elected government’s term, has not been required to speak to his involvement in the alleged wrong doings. Your Excellency, as you would expect, I am slow to comment on judicial processes, but I would betray my duty to the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands if I did not express our concern that in relation to the criminal investigations that followed the commission of inquiry, persons who were charged criminally have avoided the criminal process by paying millions of dollars into the treasury before they were even called upon to answer the charge. This type of action is abusive and nothing short of corrupt. It is the more egregious, because those who have to date been able to purchase their justice, have not been Turks and Caicos Islanders. When those who dispense justice are allowed to see black or white, rich or poor, expatriate or belonger, what they dispense ceases to be justice. When justice is for sale and when laws are implemented and made retroactive, arguably in an effort to secure particular convictions, the justice system and the system of justice is being challenged and democracy is under siege.
On the issue of taxation without representation, the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands by its duly elected Parliamentarians have just recently unanimously voted in support of an ordinance to repeal the Value Added Tax Ordinance that was passed by the Interim Administration and that is scheduled to come into force on April 1st of this year. The unanimity of the vote to repeal the VAT Ordinance, did not come as a surprise, as both political parties campaigned against its immediate implementation and sought its delay in order to allow the elected Government to explore alternative measures. We have made representations to the effect that VAT is not in the best interest of a small economy such as ours and have provided sound alternative revenue generating measures. While we maintain that VAT will not work in the Turks and Caicos Islands, we are more concerned, as you can see, that the principle of Democracy and Good Governance, which mandates that the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands through their elected officials, must have an opportunity to consider any measure that seeks to impose an additional tax burden on them or to otherwise alter their tax structure, is a principle that is being sacrificed on the altar of despotism. If His Excellency The Governor refuses to assent to the repeal bill, he would have said in no uncertain terms that the voice of the people is the voice of God, only so long as God and the United Kingdom Government are singing in chorus. I cannot stress with sufficient strength nor overstate the significance of these events. The question is not one of taxation, but rather, one of democracy.
An additional insult to the democratic process, is the continued presence of a UK appointed CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER, whose office controls government expenditure without the authority of the elected Minister of Finance. Friends, imagine if you could, an elected Government unable to give a clear undertaking to the works because this strange, unelected creature, the CFO, is deciding upon the operations of Government without the authority of the Minister of Finance.
Your Excellency, Ministerial Government in the Turks and Caicos Islands is not yet 40 years old – younger in fact, than the treaty of Chaguaramas. In that time, we have by any standards, made significant strides and by the same token, we have made mistakes. Your Excellency, fellow heads of Government, I assure you that the Government of the Turks and Caicos Islands has constantly under review, the successes and failures of those Governments that came before us. We will not be afraid to emulate the actions that lead to successes and avoid those that lead to failures. I wish also to assure you, that so long as I am entrusted with the office of Premier, I will stand in opposition to any individual or group of individuals, whose purpose it is to reverse the social, political and economic gains of past governments.
On February 10th 2013, moved by dismay over the constant infractions of democratic principles and insults to the ideals of elected government, I caused a letter to be forwarded to the First Secretary of State, The Rt. Hon. William Hague, MP – Minister of Foreign Affairs – requesting the recall with immediate effect, of the UK appointed dignitaries responsible for these infractions, namely His Excellency the Governor, the Attorney General and the Chief Financial Officer.
For some time Your Excellency, perhaps blinded by the euphoria of success, the Turks and Caicos Islands may not have been as public in its support for CARICOM as it could have been. We may not have been as bold as we could have been in championing the ideals of the Community. We may have failed to look within the region for the assistance in strengthening our institutions and building our democracy. The Turks and Caicos Islands have a vested interest in CARICOM, not least because we have living and working among us, citizens from perhaps every member and associate member of the Community. Your Excellency, please know that the Government of the Turks and Caicos Islands is committed to this region as we strive to build our small nation.
Even as I make public my Government’s commitment to the Caribbean Community, I want to make clear that that commitment is not at the expense of our willingness to continue work with the United Kingdom Government. The Government of the United Kingdom must by now realize that the Turks and Caicos is not prepared “to go along”, with all that they propose just “to get along”. The Partnership only works, if, notwithstanding our status as overseas territories, Her Majesty’s Government recognizes that we also carry the mandate of a constituency, whose interest we have a duty to represent.
In the words of Sir Lynden Pindling “We (the Government), must take the worst and make them Better. We must take the lowest and take them Higher. We must take the saddest and make them Happier. We must take the sickest and make them Healthier and we must take the poorest and make them Richer.” I have no doubt that all the Governments represented here today subscribe to that vision. It was that vision that propelled Toussaint L’Ouverture in to action. That vision drove Eric Williams, Alexander Bustamante, Forbes Burnham, Errol Barrow, Lynden Pindling and a slew of others, to challenge the status quo. So too, are the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands Inspired.
Your Excellency, There has always been a commitment in CARICOM for democratic values and a concern for basic human rights. CARICOM has never been afraid to condemn any circumstance that is an affront to democracy or denies the basic human rights to any people. In this regard we wish to thank the Community for its pronouncements thus far.
The current state of affairs in the Turks and Caicos Islands has the potential to throw our Country into chaos. For so long as I am the leader and principal spokesman of the Government of the Turks and Caicos Islands, I will use every means available to me to ensure that does not happen.
Today therefore, on behalf of the Government and peoples of the Turks and Caicos Islands, I am calling on the Community and the individual member states, to keep the situation in the Turks and Caicos Islands under review. I urge you to stand with us, not on one or other specific policy, but on the question of democracy. I invite you, to advocate on the international stage for the full restoration of the institutions of true democracy in our islands and to support our cries for removal of the spectre of colonial influences of the past, as we fight for our rights on our journey towards true self governance and self determination.
On behalf of the people of The Turks and Caicos Islands, I thank you.

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