Above: the Turks and Caicos House of Assembly
By the Caribbean Journal staff
The Turks and Caicos Islands has had a democratic government for more than three months, and Governor Ric Todd said the UK sees “many positives” in the manner in which the government has conducted its business.
Todd issued a statement to reflect on the first three months of democratic government in the territory since the UK suspended democratic rule in 2009 after evidence of widespread corruption in the TCI.
“The UK remains firmly in the TCI’s corner,” Todd said. “When we made the $260 million loan guarantee to TCI’s debtors, after the maladministration of the past, we provided multi-million dollar proof of this commitment.”
He said the UK was committed to ensuring the “success, safety and sustainability” of all of its Overseas Territories.
“We want a strong two way relationship with the people and institutions of the Islands which is modern, successful and sustainable,” he said.
The Governor also responded to charges that the territory’s political structure effectively created two separate governments.
“Arguments that there are somehow two governments operating here are simply confused,” he said. “The long standing Constitutional arrangement agreed by TCI’s own political and civil leaders as far back as 2006, and refreshed in the TCI Constitution Order 2011, clearly lays out the roles and responsibilities, the checks and balances, that are required to ensure the ongoing good governance of this country.”
But Todd warned that the territory’s national debt, while smaller than at the height of the financial crisis, “has to be brought down by the government,” reminding that, not to long ago, the government was “essentially bankrupt.”
The Governor, who has served since 2011, also addressed the issue of the Value-Added Tax in TCI.
On that front, he said the “advantages of VAT” had not been as well communicated as they might have been.
“The TCI set out upon the path toward VAT some years ago, and it was clearly a feature of the 2011 budget statement too,” he said. “UK Ministers have consistently made clear that they are open to credible and sustainable alternatives to VAT, and have been awaiting proposals on this for some time.”
The UK perspective is that VAT is “good for public finances,” he said, but that it would work with the TCI government to implement a “credible alternative.”
The tax, which has encountered significant opposition in the territory, is slated to be implemented on Apr. 1.
UK Overseas Minister Mark Simmonds has suggested that the tax be implemented now and then reviewed in a year.