His Excellency Governor Ric Todd chaired the meeting of the Turks and Caicos Islands’ (TCI) Cabinet on Wednesday 27 Feb 2013.
During a recess in Cabinet the Governor, Premier, Deputy Premier and Minister for Government Support Services visited the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Wave Knight docked at Grand Turk and had lunch with the Commanding Officer, Captain Ferris. They discussed the ship’s role in disaster management recovery across the TCI, the other UK Overseas Territories in Caribbean and the region. Cabinet also congratulated the Premier on his birthday.
Cabinet was briefed on the review of the TCI by the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes created by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). It agreed to that the TCI Government take all appropriate steps to prepare for this, and that the Exchange of Information Unit in the Ministry of Finance had enough resource to do this. Cabinet agreed to review this at its next meeting.
Cabinet agreed to support a draft bill on Fractional Ownership and decided that this should be the subject of a consultation lasting four weeks. It would then take a final decision on whether to approve it and send it to the House of Assembly.
Noting the exchange of letters between the Premier and Minister Simmonds on VAT, Cabinet agreed that the Ministry of Finance would complete the draft Financial Strategy and Policy Statement (FSPS) as soon as possible. The FSPS contains the latest public financial data and estimates. When agreed by Cabinet the FSPS will be sent to the Secretary of State. Meanwhile preparations for the 2013/14 budget will continue..
Cabinet agreed to put to the House of Assembly Supplementary Budgets on the Integrity Commission, the Human Rights Commission and the purchase of pumps for the Grand Turk Reverse Osmosis water plant. It also agreed an additional capital budget payment of $2.7m to the Consolidated Fund as a consequence of the agreement between National Insurance Board and the government in final settlement of the issues between the two parties. This agreement involves the transfer of NJS Francis Building from NIB to TCI Government (TCIG) and the Headley Durham Building from to TCIG to NIB; payment of outstanding liabilities by both parties to the other; conclusion of all outstanding issues; and the balancing sum of $2.7m.
Cabinet agreed to provide a grant of up to $15,000 to establish a community based and part private sector funded not for profit organisation to promote the development of small to medium businesses. Cabinet further agreed to a proposal from the Ministry of Finance that TCIG would neither lend money to nor guarantee loans to such organsitions. Cabinet also decided that it should refund to Carnival this $395,000 for non performing loans made to small businesses under the TCIG/ Carnival Loan scheme, disbursed through TCInvest.
As part of the modernisation of TCIG revenue and payment processes, Cabinet agreed a pilot project for six months from 1 April 2013 for the use of official credit cards by Permanent Secretaries. Subject to satisfactory results, the policy will be continued and extended.
On transport issues, Cabinet postponed a decision to increase the maximum age limit for Public Service Vehicle Operators from 75 to 80 years, pending the result of an application for judicial review that the existing regulation is discriminatory. Secondly, Cabinet invited the Minister of Environment and Home Affairs to undertake research into and make proposals on the regulation of illegal jitneys on TCI.
Cabinet discussed with the TCI Airport Authority the proposal for the $10m extension of the Terminal at Providenciales airport and its financing model. It emphasised that the airport is critical to the economy of TCI. Cabinet approved the proposal which, subject to final endorsement from the Secretary of State, will begin as soon as possible. Cabinet stressed that work should also begin on planning for the potential phase four, a new terminal.
Cabinet decided to put to the House of Assembly technical but necessary amendments to the Financial Services Commission Ordinance and approve amendments to the regulations on Anti-Money Laundering and the Prevention of Terrorist Financing, Companies Fees, Non Profit Organisations and Telecommunications Fee Structures.
On the advice of Cabinet, the Governor agreed to make the appointments to the Telecommunications Commission proposed by the Minister for GSS; details will be announced by the Minister.
Cabinet agreed to take forward, subject to planning permission and finalisation of budget allocation, the establishment of a Juvenile Home (Place of Safety) on Grand Turk as proposed by the Minister of Environment and Home Affairs. This would provide urgently needed safe and appropriate accommodation while consideration is given to a longer term Juvenile Home.
Cabinet agreed that the next session of the House of Assembly should be held on 14 and 15 March.
Further details on the issues discussed will be provided by Ministries in due course.
The next meeting of Cabinet will be on 13 March 2013.