|No Decision from PNP||| Print ||
|Written by Administrator|
|Thursday, 18 December 2008 09:49|
In a hastily summoned mini convention at the party headquarters in Providenciales on Wednesday, the Progressive National Party (PNP) failed to reach a decision as to the continued leadership of Turks and Caicos Premier Michael Misick.
Instead, according to party sources in Provo, another convention has been scheduled for February 28, 2009, at which time the issue will be debated again.
The mini convention on Wednesday followed a letter sent to Governor Gordon Wetherell on Monday by nine of the thirteen PNP members of parliament saying they had lost confidence in Misick’s leadership.
The dissatisfaction with Misick appears to have been crystallised by a motion of no confidence in the government brought to the House of Assembly on Monday by the opposition Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM).
However, the motion was neither read nor debated after it was rejected on the basis of "breach of privilege". This breach, it was said, was caused by local media announcing the motion’s existence well in advance of the House session.
While a breach of privilege should not have prevented the reading of the motion, the Speaker of the House, Clayton Greene, who has consistently been accused of bias towards the PNP government, referred the matter to the Privileges Committee, which he himself chairs.
However, this committee, as well as the other House committees, does not currently exist because the Misick government has failed to assign members after its earlier term expired in July.
The Speaker also decided to not allow the reading of the motion due to the required notice of 14 days not being given by the opposition to the government. The opposition pointed out that the notices were provided to the Speaker 21 days prior to the House session.
Greene then admitted and apologised for his failure to forward the notices in time. This announcement came after a 20 minute recess and consultation between Greene and PNP members during the recess.
The motion remains in place, however, and must be faced in the next House session, which has yet to be scheduled by the government. The House rules require that the session must be held by early March, shortly after the PNP’s decision-making convention, now scheduled for February 28.
House of Assembly sessions are broadcast on television and radio for the public to view and listen to.
The crisis within the PNP has reportedly been growing as a result of what is described as Misick’s "style of leadership". Sources have told Caribbean Net News that Misick has already overspent his own ministerial budget for the first eight months of the current fiscal year by some 15 percent despite the fact it had been increased to $30 million annually.
However, this cannot be verified because Misick has also failed to empower the Public Accounts Committee, which is chaired by Opposition Leader Floyd Seymour. The opposition had also planned to present 48 questions for the government to answer during Monday’s House of Assembly session, most of which had to do with government financial conditions.
In the last House session, the government said that revenue for the current fiscal year had increased year to date, but admitted that they continued to overspend.
The government has been late with payrolls and is reported to be months late in making payments to contractors and suppliers. These late payments have apparently continued for some months and are said to have worsened.
The government-sponsored hospital project has resulted in new financial obligations, which include paying down a mortgage of at least $225 million, beginning in a little over 13 months.
A new health care plan, of which 44 percent will be paid by the government, is also due to come into effect next year after the hospitals are complete. The other 56 percent will be paid by residents and businesses.
There will also be limits to the coverage and co-pays will be enforced. This plan has been brought into place under the financial stewardship of Floyd Hall, Minister of Finance. Currently islanders receive health care without cost, as the government picks up the tab. However, this cost has been escalating since Hall himself switched the agents who arrange the overseas care to the Cayman Islands-based Southern Health Network Ltd.
It has been alleged by the Opposition that Southern's CEO, Delroy Howell, a Jamaican national, has business interests with Hall’s brother. The overseas health care spending, while escalating, appears to be no more than the Premier’s tourism promotion budget of approximately $30 million.
By adjourning the house prematurely, the government failed in its attempt to increase the departure tax to a total of $75 per person and failed to act on two other motions brought by the opposition. One, if passed, would have prevented the airline owned by the Premier’s nephew being granted a monopoly on inter-island air travel for ten years.
The other motion, if passed, would have forced TCU, the Grand Turk power company, to provide power to residents who are returning to repaired homes damaged by Hurricane Ike. Numerous Grand Turk residents are suffering financial pressure in the wake of Ike due to home repairs and temporary loss of employment.
The House motion submitted by the PDM would have required TCU to provide a schedule of payments so residents could have power restored to their home. TCU has been refusing to hook up anyone with a open balance on their account.
In the meantime, Misick and other Members of Parliament will be called before a Commission of Inquiry in January, when government officials present and past may be examined under oath by the Inquiry.
The Commission of Enquiry has stated in its most recent press release that public hearings will take place starting January 13 in Provo and extend into February. A number of government officials have failed in the eyes of the Commission to provide adequate information in response to requests for details of their interests and it appears those officials will be the first to be examined.
Those affected were due to receive their appearance notices on Monday, December 15. A schedule of the interviews will be posted online on the Commission’s website on Tuesday, December 23.
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