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Premier Dr. Rufus Ewing asks CARICOM for assistance in dealing with the UK Government

By Hayden Boyce
Publisher & Editor-in-Chief

TCISUN: Turks and Caicos Islands Premier Hon. Dr. Rufus Ewing has called on CARICOM (Caribbean Community), to advocate on the

TCI Premier, Rufus Ewing

TCI Premier, Rufus Ewing

international stage for the full restoration of the institutions of true democracy in this country.

In his maiden speech to a CARICOM Heads of Government meeting, Dr. Ewing asked regional leaders to “support our (Turks and Caicos Islands) cries for removal of the spectre of colonial influences of the past, as we fight for our rights on our journey towards true self-governance and self-determination”.

Dr. Ewing’s Tuesday morning speech which was carried on several television stations through the Caribbean, was well-received by the CARICOM leaders and other regional delegates who are attending the 24th Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM which is being held in Haiti.

“The current state of affairs in the Turks and Caicos Islands has the potential to throw our Country into chaos. For so long as I am the leader and principal spokesman of the Government of the Turks and Caicos Islands, I will use every means available to me to ensure that does not happen,” Dr. Ewing asserted.

The TCI Premier told the CARICOM meeting that although the November 9th 2012 ended three years of British direct rule and returned the Turks and Caicos Islands to self-rule, the overall state of political affairs remains “less than desirable in our islands”.

“The restoration of true democracy is still a far way off,” said Dr. Ewing, a 45-year-old surgeon by profession. “In the Turks and Caicos Islands, we are today being governed by a constitution that was conceived in White Hall, and was for all intents and purposes thrust upon the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands, at a time when they were without representation. The 2011 Constitution is merely a by-law for the continuance of direct rule under the pretext of representative democracy.

Noting that there has always been a commitment in CARICOM for democratic values and a concern for basic human rights, Dr. Ewing stressed that CARICOM has never been afraid to condemn any circumstance that is an affront to democracy or denies the basic human rights to any people.

He stated: “I wish to assure the Community (CARICOM), that the Government and people of the Turks and Caicos Islands are committed to all the principles of democracy and the tenets of good governance. As a Government, we are committed to strengthening where they exist and creating where they do not exist, all those institutions that promote democracy and good governance. Guided by that commitment, the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands by and large welcomed the need for reforms and for the strengthening of governance systems. By and large we acknowledged that the allegations of corruption and maladministration necessitated investigation. We have however, always been concerned that the inquiry was left to a lone Commissioner and we have always maintained that the suspension of our constitution and the establishment of an Interim Administration, was an inappropriate response to the Commissioner’s findings and ran counter to every principle of democracy and good governance.”

Dr. Ewing, the country’s third Premier, added: “Our sense of what is right and decent and fair compels us to question even to this day, why it is that former Governor (Richard) Tauwhare, who was a member of the Cabinet for a significant period of the last elected government’s term, has not been required to speak to his involvement in the alleged wrong doings. As you would expect, I am slow to comment on judicial processes, but I would betray my duty to the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands if I did not express our concern that in relation to the criminal investigations that followed the commission of inquiry, persons who were charged criminally have avoided the criminal process by paying millions of dollars into the treasury before they were even called upon to answer the charge. This type of action is abusive and nothing short of corrupt. It is the more egregious, because those who have to date been able to purchase their justice, have not been Turks and Caicos Islanders. When those who dispense justice are allowed to see black or white, rich or poor, expatriate or Belonger, what they dispense ceases to be justice. When justice is for sale and when laws are implemented and made retroactive, arguably in an effort to secure particular convictions, the justice system and the system of justice is being challenged and democracy is under siege.”

 

On the issue of taxation without representation, Dr. Ewing told CARICOM that the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands by its duly elected Parliamentarians have just recently unanimously voted in support of an ordinance to repeal the Value Added Tax Ordinance that was passed by the Interim Administration and that is scheduled to come into force on April 1st of this year.

 

He said the unanimity of the vote to repeal the VAT Ordinance, did not come as a surprise, as both political parties campaigned against its immediate implementation and sought its delay in order to allow the elected Government to explore alternative measures.
“We have made representations to the effect that VAT is not in the best interest of a small economy such as ours and have provided sound alternative revenue generating measures. While we maintain that VAT will not work in the Turks and Caicos Islands, we are more concerned, as you can see, that the principle of Democracy and Good Governance, which mandates that the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands through their elected officials, must have an opportunity to consider any measure that seeks to impose an additional tax burden on them or to otherwise alter their tax structure, is a principle that is being sacrificed on the altar of despotism. If His Excellency the Governor (Ric Todd) refuses to assent to the repeal bill, he would have said in no uncertain terms that the voice of the people is the voice of God, only so long as God and the United Kingdom Government are singing in chorus. I cannot stress with sufficient strength nor overstate the significance of these events. The question is not one of taxation, but rather, one of democracy,” Premier Ewing stated.

The Premier also complained to CARICOM aboutpai the continued presence of Chief Financial Officer Hugh McGarel-Groves “whose office controls government expenditure without the authority of the elected Minister of Finance”.

Additionally, he told regional leaders that on February 10th 2013, “moved by dismay over the constant infractions of democratic principles and insults to the ideals of elected government”, he wrote a letter to the UK First Secretary of State, The Rt. Hon. William Hague, MP – Minister of Foreign Affairs – requesting the recall with immediate effect, of the UK appointed dignitaries responsible for these infractions, namely His Excellency the Governor, the Attorney General Huw Shepheard and the Chief Financial Officer.

Photo: of Rugus Ewing, Premier

 

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

By Hayden Boyce
Publisher & Editor-in-Chief

TCISUN: Turks and Caicos Islands Premier Hon. Dr. Rufus Ewing has called on CARICOM (Caribbean Community), to advocate on the

TCI Premier, Rufus Ewing

TCI Premier, Rufus Ewing

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international stage for the full restoration of the institutions of true democracy in this country.

In his maiden speech to a CARICOM Heads of Government meeting, Dr. Ewing asked regional leaders to “support our (Turks and Caicos Islands) cries for removal of the spectre of colonial influences of the past, as we fight for our rights on our journey towards true self-governance and self-determination”.

Dr. Ewing’s Tuesday morning speech which was carried on several television stations through the Caribbean, was well-received by the CARICOM leaders and other regional delegates who are attending the 24th Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM which is being held in Haiti.

“The current state of affairs in the Turks and Caicos Islands has the potential to throw our Country into chaos. For so long as I am the leader and principal spokesman of the Government of the Turks and Caicos Islands, I will use every means available to me to ensure that does not happen,” Dr. Ewing asserted.

The TCI Premier told the CARICOM meeting that although the November 9th 2012 ended three years of British direct rule and returned the Turks and Caicos Islands to self-rule, the overall state of political affairs remains “less than desirable in our islands”.

“The restoration of true democracy is still a far way off,” said Dr. Ewing, a 45-year-old surgeon by profession. “In the Turks and Caicos Islands, we are today being governed by a constitution that was conceived in White Hall, and was for all intents and purposes thrust upon the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands, at a time when they were without representation. The 2011 Constitution is merely a by-law for the continuance of direct rule under the pretext of representative democracy.

Noting that there has always been a commitment in CARICOM for democratic values and a concern for basic human rights, Dr. Ewing stressed that CARICOM has never been afraid to condemn any circumstance that is an affront to democracy or denies the basic human rights to any people.

He stated: “I wish to assure the Community (CARICOM), that the Government and people of the Turks and Caicos Islands are committed to all the principles of democracy and the tenets of good governance. As a Government, we are committed to strengthening where they exist and creating where they do not exist, all those institutions that promote democracy and good governance. Guided by that commitment, the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands by and large welcomed the need for reforms and for the strengthening of governance systems. By and large we acknowledged that the allegations of corruption and maladministration necessitated investigation. We have however, always been concerned that the inquiry was left to a lone Commissioner and we have always maintained that the suspension of our constitution and the establishment of an Interim Administration, was an inappropriate response to the Commissioner’s findings and ran counter to every principle of democracy and good governance.”

Dr. Ewing, the country’s third Premier, added: “Our sense of what is right and decent and fair compels us to question even to this day, why it is that former Governor (Richard) Tauwhare, who was a member of the Cabinet for a significant period of the last elected government’s term, has not been required to speak to his involvement in the alleged wrong doings. As you would expect, I am slow to comment on judicial processes, but I would betray my duty to the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands if I did not express our concern that in relation to the criminal investigations that followed the commission of inquiry, persons who were charged criminally have avoided the criminal process by paying millions of dollars into the treasury before they were even called upon to answer the charge. This type of action is abusive and nothing short of corrupt. It is the more egregious, because those who have to date been able to purchase their justice, have not been Turks and Caicos Islanders. When those who dispense justice are allowed to see black or white, rich or poor, expatriate or Belonger, what they dispense ceases to be justice. When justice is for sale and when laws are implemented and made retroactive, arguably in an effort to secure particular convictions, the justice system and the system of justice is being challenged and democracy is under siege.”

 

On the issue of taxation without representation, Dr. Ewing told CARICOM that the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands by its duly elected Parliamentarians have just recently unanimously voted in support of an ordinance to repeal the Value Added Tax Ordinance that was passed by the Interim Administration and that is scheduled to come into force on April 1st of this year.

 

He said the unanimity of the vote to repeal the VAT Ordinance, did not come as a surprise, as both political parties campaigned against its immediate implementation and sought its delay in order to allow the elected Government to explore alternative measures.
“We have made representations to the effect that VAT is not in the best interest of a small economy such as ours and have provided sound alternative revenue generating measures. While we maintain that VAT will not work in the Turks and Caicos Islands, we are more concerned, as you can see, that the principle of Democracy and Good Governance, which mandates that the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands through their elected officials, must have an opportunity to consider any measure that seeks to impose an additional tax burden on them or to otherwise alter their tax structure, is a principle that is being sacrificed on the altar of despotism. If His Excellency the Governor (Ric Todd) refuses to assent to the repeal bill, he would have said in no uncertain terms that the voice of the people is the voice of God, only so long as God and the United Kingdom Government are singing in chorus. I cannot stress with sufficient strength nor overstate the significance of these events. The question is not one of taxation, but rather, one of democracy,” Premier Ewing stated.

The Premier also complained to CARICOM aboutpai the continued presence of Chief Financial Officer Hugh McGarel-Groves “whose office controls government expenditure without the authority of the elected Minister of Finance”.

Additionally, he told regional leaders that on February 10th 2013, “moved by dismay over the constant infractions of democratic principles and insults to the ideals of elected government”, he wrote a letter to the UK First Secretary of State, The Rt. Hon. William Hague, MP – Minister of Foreign Affairs – requesting the recall with immediate effect, of the UK appointed dignitaries responsible for these infractions, namely His Excellency the Governor, the Attorney General Huw Shepheard and the Chief Financial Officer.

Photo: of Rugus Ewing, Premier