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Premier Hon. Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson Accepts Chairmanship of the OCTA While Her Government Flip-Flopped With Supporting One of Its Key Initiatives.

Turks and Caicos, February 28, 2017 – According to a TCIG Press Release on February 23, 2017, Premier, Hon. Sharlene CartwrightRobinson, attended the 15th European Union Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTA) Forum in Oranjestad, Aruba. While at the forum, Premier Hon. Cartwright-Robinson accepted the role of Chair of OCTA and signed “…the Programming Documents commissioning the official start of the EDF 11 Program”.   Commenting on the forum, Premier Hon. Cartwright-Robinson stated that “The Turks and Caicos has continued to benefit over the years from funding through the EDF program”.

Surprisingly, although the Premier Hon. Cartwright-Robinson accepted the Chairmanship of the OCTA and kicked off the EDF 11 Program, she didn’t inform the forum’s attendees that less than a week before, her government withdrew its support for the EDF 11 program.

On February 17, the Cartwright-Robinson Government sent out a public notice canceling the tender for the “Consultancy for the Turks and Caicos Islands Government’s EDF 11 Education Sector Reform Strategy, Tender Reference Number TR 16/77”.   Having a Consultant working on the deliverables is a key requirement of the EDF 11 program, and the country would become ineligible for the grant if it doesn’t have one.   Realizing that she would have had the distinction of being the first Chair of the OCTA whose Government didn’t support its programs, Premier Hon. Cartwright-Robinson’s government on February 24th, rushed out a slightly amended version of the original EDF 11 Tender document, and in doing so, canceled its own cancelation of the EDF 11 Tender document.

Since 2012, under the previous PNP Government, the Turks and Caicos Islands was the recipient of two EDF grants – EDF 9 and EDF 10 (which focused on Strengthening and Improving the Business Sector) – with a total funding of €13.7m (US$14.5m).   The EDF 11 program which includes additional funding of €14.6m (US$15.5m), was to have focused on reforming and strengthening the education sector, and the previous PNP government had already advanced it to the programming and financing stage.

In highlighting the country’s stellar performance regarding the EDF programs, Deputy Governor, Anya Williams, who also attended the forum, stated:  “The Turks and Caicos has made great strides in its EU program work over the years since being reinstated into the program in 2012. Within a relatively short period of time we have not only seen the completion and closure of the EDF 9 Program, but also the full implementation of EDF 10…”

“The Turks and Caicos is also only one of five territories that have already advanced our EDF 11 program to the programming and financing stage; in the words of the EU Commission, making us a star amongst the EU Overseas Territories.   This is quite commendable…”

Leader of the Opposition, and former Minister of Finance in the previous PNP Government, Hon. C. Washington Misick, commenting on the EDF programs, stated that “The EDF programs have benefitted the country tremendously, and I am proud that the previous PNP Government’s accomplishments in rolling them out have been recognized by the Deputy Governor.   I was surprised and disappointed when I learned that the current Government had withdrawn its support for the EDF 11 program.   Thankfully, even if just to save face with the Premier becoming the new Chair of the OCTA, they have reversed that position and now support it.   Assuming that the Government doesn’t change its position again on the EDF 11 program, and I strongly encourage Madam Premier not to do so, the country should again benefit from the great strides made by the previous PNP Government.”

Press Release: PNP

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