UK won’t let up on good governance in TCI
(CNS): Despite the introduction of the Turks and Caicos Constitution, which paved the way for a return to democracy for the local people, the UK has made it clear that it will not be taking a back seat. Ric Todd, the territory’s governor, said the administrative arm of government will have a vital role to play in “ensuring transparency and good government” on the islands. He also warned there would there no let-up in the investigation following the findings of the corruption inquiry which triggered off direct rule in 2008. Meanwhile, the TCI’s business council has started the second phase of its battle against VAT, which was introduced by the UK interim government in the run-up to the elections.
Governor Ric Todd said Monday that significant progress had been made in the corruption investigation following the commission of enquiry. He said that since the Special Investigation and Prosecution Team (SIPT) and a Civil Recovery Programme were set up 13 people, including four former cabinet ministers, had been indicted with serious criminal offences, including bribery, conspiracy to receive bribes, conspiracy to defraud the TCIG, conceal or transfer the proceeds of criminal conduct, and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
“International arrest warrants and Interpol Red Notices have been issued in respect of the former Premier Michael Misick and the developer Kem Cinay. Collectively, 2,462 acres of Crown land have been recovered and various financial settlements received,” he added.
“There will be no let-up in the prosecution of those who have been indicted and of any further accused who may be charged,” Todd said, adding that the work of the team would continue, directed by the Special Prosecutor Helen Garlick. He promised resources for the Royal Turks & Caicos Islands Police Force (RTCIPF) to improve its capability to investigate serious and organised crime, including drug trafficking, money laundering, bribery and corruption, as the special team is integrated into the local police force.
“In order to assist the RTCIPF and pass on their expertise, over the coming months, the Special Investigation Team will be gradually integrated as a self-contained team within the RTCIPF. The SIPT will be tasked with supporting the on-going prosecutions, ensuring that the current outstanding corruption investigations are concluded and equally important ensuring that their expertise and the information it has gathered is passed to specialist RTCIPF officers,” he said. “I have the constitutional authority to ensure that necessary investigations and prosecutions continue and the necessary resources are allocated for this.”
Meanwhile, as the country prepares for elections next month, the business community is not letting up either, as it continues its opposition to VAT. Business leaders are deeply concerned about the adverse effects the implementation of VAT will have on the islands’ economy and local businesses and have accused Governor Todd of a high handed, arrogant colonial-style attitude and failing to consult business stakeholders.
“The London-imposed interim government is currently in power in Turks and Caicos. However the people will have their own free elections on November 9th and the leaders of both parties have publicly opposed the introduction of VAT. The TCIBC believe that VAT should be a decision for the newly elected government,” officials from the group stated in a release.
The business community says that the interim government hastily introduced a complex tax that is expensive to implement, expensive to collect and places additional burdens on the business community. Over half of the country’s electorate have signed an anti-VAT petition demanding that the government delay the VAT for more analysis on the impact it will have on the local economy.
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