#Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands – November 6, 2018 – Constitutional changes usually take time and Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands, Sharlene Robinson on Monday afternoon explained that is exactly why her administration must move forward on changes the public wants to see and will travel to the United Kingdom in December to formally present the proposed amendments to the 2011 document.
“Lord Ahmad has written again requesting the amendments, I raised it last time I was at Pre-JMC which was a few months ago and he said he would like to move forward with that…,” Premier said she is confident, “In fact, I believe what was reassuring is that the constitutional adviser was at our pre-JMC in the UK.”
This is not the first body of recommendations to the UK since the enactment of the 2011 Turks and Caicos Islands constitution, the first were wholly rejected by the British in 2015. Premier Robinson believes there is a shift in posture at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and is going ahead with 14 the changes presented at last opportunity and four new ones to the current constitution which has been described, at the highest levels, as ‘regressive’.
To our question on what the recommendations, if accepted in full or in part would result in for the Turks and Caicos Islands, Premier Robinson said: “It takes us back to the strongest constitution we have ever had, 2006 where local government was really in charge of managing its country. What we have now is a constitution that follows what transpired that caused the then 2006 Constitution to be suspended and it’s unfortunate that the UK believed the way to move forward and grow this country and to take us to where we need to be under their United Nations obligation was that they had to put so much controls in place.”
What has long been a national issue, will now see some divergence as the Progressive National Party Opposition will not be joining the PDM Government Administration for the meeting in London on December 6, 2018 but the 14 recommended amendments said the Premier came from the public during the consultative phase, which was led in 2015 by a bi-partisan group of politicians including Robinson who was then Opposition leader.
“I also informed the UK Minister that the Official Opposition has now declined to continue the talks together with us as its party has advised that it is changing leadership and further that it will be seeking greater constitutional powers aside from the recommendations it submitted in 2015 as the then Government,” said the Premier to media and over national radio on Monday November 5, 2018.
Four new provisions are also to be put forth including a move for locally elected government to play significantly greater roles in policing, the public service and crown land management.
Premier Robinson was quick to clarify about her administration’s campaign promises that, “Nothing in the Change Document (PDM election manifesto) needs a constitutional amendment in order to be achieved. Our hands are not tied, our feet are not bound, let’s make that absolutely clear. When it comes to the process and how government relates even with the public service, that is where the challenges are; we don’t have any hands and feet with the public service.”
Hon. Sharlene Robinson has worked on three Turks and Caicos constitutional committees; in 2002 under Chief Minister Derek Taylor; in 2006 under first Premier, Michael Misick and in 2015 under former Premier Rufus Ewing.