|Statement by Lillian Misick on budget, CFO, independence|
|Written by Lillian Misick|
|Thursday, 24 May 2012 17:18|
Chairwoman Lillian Misick made this statement at the opening of the Consultative Forum meeting May 21.
The main item on our agenda today is debate on the Turks and Caicos Islands budget for 2012-13. Of course, given press statements by politicians, reports in the media and gossip in the streets, Turks and Caicos Islanders can be forgiven for thinking that our debate will be anticlimactic, if not meaningless.
But I urge the public to withhold judgment on this budget until a fully reconciled bill has been approved by this body. Not least, because, criticisms about it being drafted in secret by U.K. officials will be somewhat mollified by the open and transparent way we voice our concerns and recommend changes during today’s debate. The public should also be informed that U.K. officials considered submissions by our new permanent secretaries in producing this draft budget.
Having said that, it would be remiss of me not to acknowledge why our people are developing a visceral distrust of everything the British say and do. Therefore, as a point of privilege affecting not only this forum but our whole nation, I shall digress here for just a minute or two.
On more than one occasion I have given voice from this chair to the growing perception amongst Turks and Caicos Islanders that U.K. officials are only interested in the appearance of consultation. In this respect I lamented the neo-colonial class of expatriate advisers who are restructuring every aspect of our public lives.
To be fair, there have been notable exceptions in this context; namely, the very collaborative effort that produced our Constitution Order 2011, the new Crown Land Ordinance and the Pathway to Citizenship Ordinance.
Unfortunately the imperious way U.K. officials presented the draft Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Bill recently only reinforces this visceral distrust and makes a mockery of the mutual respect, mutual trust and mutual cooperation they keep telling us they seek.
It is nothing short of remarkable that this bill confers plenary powers upon the U.K.-appointed CFO that rival those our Constitution confers upon the governor. Granted, U.K. officials invited forum members to submit comments. But given the way this bill will subjugate the ministerial powers of our elected leaders to the discretion of this CFO, it is regrettable that they did not allow us to debate it the way we are debating this budget bill here today. Not just because the principles of good governance demanded it, but because the public had a truly compelling interest in witnessing such a debate.
Far more troubling though is that this CFO Bill actually codifies the prevailing view amongst Turks and Caicos Islanders that the British act as if we do not have the intelligence and integrity to manage our own public finances. And that none of the 27 or more advisers retained by this interim administration has been a Turks and Caicos Islander, supports this view.
This is why I believe it is important to state for the record that it was the intelligence and integrity of Turks and Caicos Islanders that compelled us to plead with U.K. officials during the Misick administration to exercise the oversight over our public finances that was required of them under our Constitution. Regrettably our pleas were met with administrative incompetence and salutary neglect by them for years until the critical point at which the only way for U.K. officials to finally exercise their oversight was to suspend that Constitution.
But that was then. Yet it is equally important for everyone from the British governor at Waterloo to the expatriate manager at Beaches to understand that this record of frustration and futility in our dealings with U.K. officials is why we resent and reject all attempts, no matter how brazen or subtle, to impose collective guilt upon us for the misdeeds of a few. We especially resent and reject being treated as if there isn’t a single TC Islander capable of advising the U.K. government on how best to reform and restructure our own government.
But let me hasten to stress that it does not reflect well on our intelligence and integrity that so many local politicians seem only interested in hurling belligerent, self-promoting and plainly feckless rhetoric about firing British officials, taking our country back, rolling back legislation, and declaring independence. For no matter our disaffection and disillusionment with the British, it behooves us to be ever mindful that we are in these dire straits far more because of the betrayal of public trust by our own people than because of any failure or mistreatment by the British.
They are too polite and sensible to say so openly, but the British must regard such rhetoric as nothing more than a symptom of the political immaturity Sir Robin outlined in his Commission of Inquiry Report. Especially since they all know, and any sensible TC Islander should know, that even after elections no local government will have the power to do anything that contravenes what the British deem to be not just in our national interest, but perhaps more importantly, also consistent with our debt repayment obligations to the U.K. government. And if their suspension of our Constitution taught us anything, it is that the British will retain and exercise this veto power for as long as we remain a U.K. Overseas Territory.
This brings me to the talk about independence that is becoming infectious — for which I feel obliged to prescribe this bit of advice to our long-suffering and impressionable people:
Ignore anyone talking about independence unless that person is laying out a credible and comprehensive plan that shows how an independent TCI will fare better in the rough seas of this globalized world than a TCI that remains, for better or worse, securely moored to the U.K. ship of state. You would also do well to bear in mind that the British are probably just as eager to get rid of us as some of our misguided politicians are to get rid of them.
In the meantime though I urge you to demand that those who aspire to lead our country put aside personal political ambition just long enough to work with those of us who are trying steadfastly to engage the British in constructive ways to build a relationship between our two countries that is truly based on mutual trust, mutual respect and mutual cooperation.
With that I shall open debate on the draft budget 2012-13 by calling on the Permanent Secretary of Finance to present it for the edification of the public.
Latest Local News
Tourist Board expands adding two new staff members
The Turks and Caicos Tourist Board announced this week it welcomed two new staff members to further More...
Cruise terminal to open April 8
Beginning Monday, April 8, thousands of cruise ship passengers will again begin to enjoy the More...
2013 TCI Elecrotal List Available
TCI 2013 Electors’ Register is Ready! Supervisor of Elections Mr. Dudley Lewis has announced More...
Misick Declared By-Election Winner
Supervisor of Elections Dudley Lewis has advised that the Progressive National Party's (PNP) Amanda More...
New Board leads TCHTA
On Wednesday, March 13, Turks and Caicos Hotel and Tourism Association (TCHTA) bid farewell to its More...