By Alexander Britell
Turks and Caicos’ government has been moving forward on a plan to restore the territory to stability, most recently announcing the appointment of five new permanent secretaries who will develop five new government ministries: Border Control and Labour, Environment and Home Affairs, Finance and Economics, Government Support Services, and the largest, the Ministry of Health and Education, the last of which is responsible for about 50 percent of TCI government spending. To learn more, Caribbean Journal talked to Turks and Caicos CEO Patrick Boyle, who began his tenure on Jan. 3, about the new secretaries, the prominent role of women in the government and the 2012 election timeline.
What is the impact of these new ministerial appointments?
It’s a key to improving the efficiency of the public sector – part of that is to create five larger, more powerful ministries. We currently have nine ministries, and this is a real opportunity for us to create a stronger, more effective and impartial civil service. We have just gone through the process of recruiting five new Permanent Secretaries from the pool of 10 candidates we had from within the civil services, and this morning was the appointment of each of these individuals to the new ministries.
Can you talk about the new ministries?
Clara Gardiner is the permanent secretary for the Ministry of Border Control. That is an interesting ministry, which we decided to retain because we have tremendous challenges on the immigration front, and we’re making good progress. Clara has been in the ministry for some time, as a previous cabinet secretary.
Our intention is to make sure that five new Permanent Secretaries have strong support and are able to focus more on their strategic business and not get too embroiled in the details of management.”
The Ministry of the Environment and home Affairs, which will be led by Susan Malcolm, and the Ministry of Finance and Economics, which will be led by Anya Williams – that is a new ministry that has been structured to deal with the micro and macroeconomic agenda. We are also bringing together our current Health and Education Ministry, to create the Ministry of Health and Education, which will be led by Judith Campbell. Judith is the current Permanent Secretary for Health. Bringing all of the resources together means that this will be one of the largest ministries in government – it creates an opportunity to maximize on the resources that are available to the capacity to deliver to a very challenging agenda in both of the ministries. Finally, we are creating a new ministry – the Ministry of Government Support Services, led by Wesley Clerveaux, and the intention in creating this ministry is to have one ministry with the responsibility for supporting all of the other four ministries that deliver services to the public. So this is a new venture for the TCI, and our intention is to make sure that five new Permanent Secretaries have strong support and are able to focus more on their strategic business and not get too embroiled in the details of management.
What does it mean for tourism to be included in the Ministry of Finance and Economics?
Tourism will go into the Ministry of Finance and Economics, which I think is an appropriate place for tourism. However, what we have done today is announce the high-level structure for the government. We have some further work to do with these five newly-appointed Permanent Secretaries to bottom out exactly where all the departments and functions should exist.
What are the biggest challenges right now for the government?
Well, I think certainly we have tremendous challenges that we’ve got to address – certainly you’ve got to strengthen the management of the civil service into one that’s effective and so that the civil service can be impartial in dealing with ministries in the future. So I think that is a big objective for us. Certainly, we have a difficult and challenging position, and this new ministry enables us to maximize on economies of scale, and use our resources to create better capacities to be able to deliver whilst also meeting our financial targets.
It’s notable that four of the Permanent Secretaries are women.
Well, I think that’s a very positive thing for this country. If you look across government, there are many women in very senior positions – and four women and one man are in the top team for this government. So I think we’re very proud of that.
Do these new appointments have an impact on the election timetable?
I think [Governor Todd] has spoken quite widely about that – and there is tremendous potential that we will be able to have elections by the end of the year.