The Deputy Director of the Integrity Commission, Mr Richard Been, returned to the Turks and Caicos Islands on 1 September following a Governor’s Office-funded attachment to the UK’s Electoral Commission.
The one-week training and development visit, which also included a visit to the UK’s Committee on Standards in Public Life, sought to build working relationships between UK and TCI bodies and to familiarise the Deputy Director with the processes the UK employs to govern and monitor the financing of political parties. Mr Been’s programme, which was split between London and Edinburgh, included numerous meetings with officials that focused on how the Electoral Commission could assist the Integrity Commission in carrying out its mandate. He also had the opportunity to observe the live monitoring and checking of proposed political expenditure carried out by the Electoral Commission, and met with both the Electoral Commissioner for Scotland and the Head of Election Team for the Scottish Government.
‘It was fascinating to be able to spend time with the Electoral Commission’s officials in the run-up to the Scottish referendum on independence on 18 September,’ commented Mr Been on his return. ‘I will be looking to apply what I learned during my visit to my work for the Integrity Commission as we strive towards ensuring TCI is a regional model of political transparency and accountability.’
Deputy Head of Mission at the Governor’s Office, Mr. Patrick Boyle, commented: ‘I’m very pleased that we have once again been able to fund capacity building activities that will be of real benefit to the TCI. The UK’s commitment to good governance in the Islands continues, and the Integrity Commission plays a key role in achieving this locally. I hope Mr Been’s visit will herald the beginning of a strong working relationship with the UK’s Electoral Commission.’
The Integrity Commission of the TCI is, among other things, charged with oversight of the Political Activities Ordinance of the Islands. This governs the activities (financing, campaigning etcetera) of political parties and independent candidates during the four-year cycle of elections, and particularly the twelve month period prior to a General Election. The Ordinance draws in fair measure from its counterpart legislation in the UK, and specifies donation and spending limits as well as who can or cannot donate to a political party. The Ordinance also defines the enforcement powers and sanctions which can be implemented if there is a breach by any of the political parties.