Press Statement from Leader of the PDM,Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson on VAT and Other Pressing Issues
Published in TCI Post on 27th February 2013
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While the Bill itself has not been repealed, I say kudos to Backbencher Hon Norman Saunders for bringing the Bill alongside my Private Members’ Motion and I must thank the Appropriations Committee who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.
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.
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.
Sharlene Cartwright Robinson