Above: the Turks and Caicos House of Assembly
By the Caribbean Journal staff
The Turks and Caicos Islands will hold its long-awaited elections Nov. 9, according to United Kingdom Foreign Secretary William Hague.
The Turks and Caicos has met seven of eight milestones set by the government as prerequisites to elections, having made what Hague called “significant progress.”
“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 in a written ministerial statement.
The decision comes three years after Sir Robin Auld’s Commission of Inquiry, which identified a “high probability” of systemic corruption in government and the legislature among the Turks and Caicos’ public officers.
That led to the suspension of Ministerial government in the territory. Since then, an interim government has led the country and pursued a path of strict fiscal management.
In March, an arrest warrant was issued for former Premier Michael Misick for his alleged role in the corruption.
The seven prerequisites for elections deemed to have been achieved included a new constitution order, new ordinances, “robust” public financial management processes, a transparent process for “belongership” (the status of a Turks and Caicos islander), progress with the civil and criminal processes recommended by the Commission of Inquiry, a new crown land policy, public service reform.
The remaining milestone — achieving a fiscal surplus in the financial year ending March 2013 — has not yet been met, Hague said, because it is too early in the year to determine whether the TCI’s government is on track to do so.
The territory had a $26 million deficit in 2011/2012, “considerably worse than the $3 million originally budgeted,” according to Hague, but that represented a “significant turnaround” from a deficit of $70 million in 2010/2011.
The budget for 2012/2013 projects a surplus of $20 million.
Updated: June 12 at 1:14 PM.
“We will support TCI to develop its democracy in line with our responsibility for security and good governance and our positive vision for our overseas territories,” Hague said. “I want to make clear this government’s determination to ensure that there is no repeat of the maladministration that led to the suspension of democratic government in TCI, either there or in any other British Overseas Territory.”