TCI News

Perception corrected; UK not micro-managing TCI money and spending says Governor

#Providenciales, Turks and Caicos – Thursday April 12, 2018 – The PDM Administration has been encouraged by the United Kingdom to draw from the country’s healthy financial reserves to expedite reconstruction following 2017’s hurricanes Irma and Maria.

The statement came as Governor, His Excellency, Dr. John Freeman opened a first-of-its-kind media breakfast meeting in Provo – where members of the TCI media core were given unfiltered access to the Governor on anything and everything related to TCI governance.

In concluding his opener, the Governor shared with media that, “I should add that in terms of identifying funding to meet immediate post hurricane renovations and repairs the UK has not restricted this in any way, and has encouraged TCIG to draw as necessary on its financial resources including if necessary on it comparatively large reserves.”  

This position contrasts starkly with the popular view that the Government has been encumbered by the British when it comes to more swiftly spending public monies on public needs.

The Governor, when questioned directly about this perception said that view is one of the long held perspectives which paints an incorrect picture of the UK’s role in TCIG spending.  The Governor, Dr. Freeman at his office in Raleigh House on Leeward Highway explained that much stringency has disappeared with the nullification of the role of the CFO.

“There is a framework agreement between TCIG and the UK Government..  is designed to help ensure the finances are soundly administered but provided the strategic goals set under that framework are being met, and currently they are.. the UK is not imposing any restrictions.  It is quite wrong when people blame the UK as some awful gorgon out there stopping you getting your hand in the till; after all the big difference between a few years ago and now is that there is not Chief Financial Officer.

The Governor frankly expressed that there was a time the CFO was controlling and approving spending directly as a UK appointed official, but those days are over.  

“The Chief Financial Officer, when he was here under the ordinance provided for, initially, every single expenditure above 10,000 I think it was, had to be approved by him, subsequently it was shifted to $75,000 but the powers of the Chief Financial Officer were extremely extensive and that wasn’t an accident.  The UK wanted that after the troubles you had a few years ago where the country was close to bankruptcy but that went last year.  We don’t have a Chief Financial Officer.”

Dr. Freeman said he was keen on the opportunity to clarify the very common misconception and explained that the UK was prepared to even see the Turks and Caicos run a deficit budget if necessary due to the catastrophic hit of the back to back hurricanes, which cost the Turks and Caicos over half a billion dollars in damages and losses.

“Though the outturn figure for the Budget for the concluding financial is now going to be significantly in surplus, it was not anticipated in December or early January that it would be and that would have required running a deficit budget, running a deficit budget. And the UK did not stand in the way of that.  And why didn’t they stand in the way of that?  Because they could see that certain monies would need to be spent and they are not trying to micro-manage everything and saying keep your hands out of the till.”

The Governor explained that any member of the Cabinet can attest to this fact.  Adding that it is really a matter for the elected administration – led by Premier Sharlene Robinson, who is also the Minister responsible for Finance – to chart the course they feel is best and fiscally prudent.

“Nobody bites into their reserves imprudently. It’s taken a long time to build up the level of reserves this territory has got and nobody should wantonly spend the money, but if there is an immediate, current need it is possible to do that.  It is also possible, if you wish, to borrow against reserves on the international markets and the UK would not oppose that.”

The TCI public has been critical of the PDM Administration and the pace of recovery post the hurricanes.  The UK has been subject to the rebuke as there has not been much work done in the aftermath of the terrible storms.

His Excellency reminded that the Turks and Caicos  enjoys a very enviable credit rating which would make borrowing easier.

Five media houses were represented at the press breakfast held today, April 12, 2017… it may be the first in a string, said Governor Dr. Freeman.

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