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Turks and Caicos Islands 24 April cabinet meeting update

His Excellency Governor Ric Todd chaired the fortnightly meeting of the TCI Cabinet on Wednesday, 24 April 2013.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Cabinet meeting update from Turks and Caicos Islands

The premier and all ministers were present at the meeting which took place in the NJS Francis House of Assembly building on Grand Turk.

At this meeting Cabinet:

  1. Discussed the draft Companies Amendment Ordinance, following its request for a consultation in December 2012. Although no comments were received from this, in order to prevent any future backlog of business licence applications, it was agreed to invite the Financial Services Commission to brief Cabinet at its next meeting before making a final decision on whether or not to put the draft Ordinance to the House of Assembly.

  2. The Governor briefed Cabinet on the issue of making a statement about tax transparency and mutual sharing of information ahead of their next meeting of Heads of Government. Cabinet noted that it is inevitable that further global measures will be adopted on automatic exchange of tax information, with a particular focus on the ‘beneficial’ ownership of companies for regulatory and tax exchange purposes. Cabinet agreed that it was in the interests of TCI to take a proactive role in global discussion on tax transparency matters and to consider further reform. Cabinet underlined that there must be a level playing field for all jurisdictions and that TCI is not disadvantaged compared to international competitors.

  3. Considered an amended version of the Fiscal and Strategic Policy Statement (FSPS) presented by the Minister of Finance. Cabinet agreed that this would be sent by the Premier to UK Ministers this week. In parallel, the Budget preparations will continue with the view to conclude this year’s budget round in June, following approval for the FSPS by UK Ministers.

  4. Discussed the proposed amendments to the National Honours and Awards Ordinance. It noted that at present the range and eligibility of national awards are limited. It was agreed that to avoid confusion it would be necessary to ensure any future awards or honours created do not duplicate others. Cabinet requested that a process of consultation with appropriate bodies and the public will begin soon, with the aim of having a new awards and honours scheme in place ahead of the 2014 National Heroes Day.

  5. Received a briefing on the temporary interruption of flights to South Caicos last week following the breakdown of the fire tenders there. Cabinet regarded the matter as serious and was pleased the matter has now been resolved. The Premier expressed the Government’s firm expectation that TCIAA ensure sufficient fire safety coverage is maintained at the airport at all times.

  6. Agreed to additional finances being made immediately available to fund an Independent Expert Assessment for a survey of the damage caused to a large section of coral reef near North West Point, Providenciales, by an ocean going yacht in April. The assessment will also contribute to the negotiations on compensation from the yacht’s owners or insurers. Cabinet was also advised that the director of public prosecutions is progressing a criminal case against the captain and engineer and that the TCI Department of Environment and Maritime Affairs (DEMA) has seized the vessel in line with the National Parks and the Fisheries Protection laws.

  7. Agreed to the resubmission of a Planning Application to establish a temporary Juvenile Home (Place of Safety) at Carlsberg House on the Ridge, Grand Turk. Cabinet wishes to ensure that all interested parties are fully informed about the proposal. Cabinet noted that there remains a pressing need for such a facility in the short-term in order for TCI to provide the appropriate care for juveniles.

  8. Agreed to consider a draft ordinance, if one should become necessary, to alter or expand charges for library services (such as photocopying and book fines), as well as other operational matters.

  9. Agreed to waive the minerals extraction royalties normally paid to government for quarrying rock and marl in TCI in the case of the repairing the causeway between North and Middle Caicos. It was explained that if royalties were levied on the construction company they would be charged back to TCIG by the contractor for invoiced work. The decision is ‘revenue neutral’ and will not be financially detrimental to the Government. The rock is required to complete the repairs to the causeway before the main hurricane season and will be extracted from a site previously defined by DEMA and will only be used for the causeway contract.

  10. Decided in response to an invitation following from the UK Overseas Territories White Paper in June 2012 that the TCI flag should fly above the Foreign Office in London every year on National Heroes Day, beginning on 27 May 2013.

  11. Considered the advice of the Attorney General (AG) that there are difficulties in identifying enough uncontested people to sit on trial juries in the TCI. This is a difficulty in other overseas territories too. In TCI the pool of potential jurors is limited to registered electors only. The AG explained that information available on the situation across the Overseas Territories suggests that jury pools need to be broadened. Cabinet agreed that the AG should prepare a paper on the options for TCI for discussion in a subsequent Cabinet meeting.

Further information on the issues addressed by Cabinet will be provided by TCI Ministers in the days ahead.

The next TCI Cabinet meeting will take place on Wednesday 8 May 2013.

Published 25 April 2013