#Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands – Thursday, May 31, 2018 – The PDM Party is calling on the Governor to resign if he is unwilling to give an apology for breaching the Cabinet Code of Conduct in responding to Magnetic Media questions on the financial management of the country.
“Although he is not a Minister, as President of Cabinet, it is incumbent upon him to abide by and uphold its rules more than any Minister or member. Members of Cabinet have access to confidential and privileged information therefore, any member found to be in breach of Cabinet’s Code of Conduct must tender his or her resignation.”
Today, a jaw dropping media release from the People’s Democratic Movement expresses that His Excellency, Dr. John Freeman was in violation of a code that assures the confidentiality of every member of the Cabinet.
Section 9 of the Code states: “The internal process through which a decision has been made, or the level of Committee by which it was taken should not be disclosed. Decisions reached by the Cabinet or by Ministerial Committees are binding on all members of the Government. They are, however, normally announced and explained as the decision of the Minister concerned”. The actions taken by the Governor undermines binding Cabinet decisions. For him to suggest that there were other options available to the Minister of Finance only seeks to clear himself from being bound by the decisions of Cabinet and therefore threaten the confidence in the Government. In the new reality of governing with a constitution that ushered in greater gubernatorial oversight at every level, the comments from the Governor seem personal.
The two page media statement came from the desk of the PDM’s Chairman, Douglas Parnell.
In April, Premier and Finance Minister, Sharlene Robinson, addressed the nation with a strong response to the Governor’s explanations about fiscal operations in the TCI; she boldly stated that the Governor’s comments opened the door to mischievous reaction from the general public and Opposition.
“The new false perception is that we as a Government is able to spend our reserves and run a deficit Budget without UK scrutiny/approvals. Though not stated by the Governor, I have seen these statements made and am obligated to correct these erroneous perceptions that has now been created out of an effort to correct the British image within our Islands.” Premier Robinson added, “The UK is involved every stage locally by the Governor’s role and so to say there is no micromanaging or local control is certainly incorrect. The current Governor, as many know nationally is involved at all levels even where neither of his predecessors has been under elected Government. Hence the perception out there that he is running the country. This is a perception he must feel compelled to correct by actions.”
It is true that the Governor’s response during a media breakfast in April sparked significant controversy when he denied that the PDM Administration was being micro-managed by the British, specifically in the area of public finances. H.E. Dr. Freeman explained that he was happy for the opportunity to clarify that the Government is in full control, once certain FCO standards are satisfied, and could have operated a deficit budget in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
The PDM Administration had suffered severe rebuke and heavy criticism due to seemingly stunted spending and sluggish response following the catastrophic back to back major storms, which cost the country well over $500 million.
Hon Parnell in the media statement said Cabinet Ministers take seriously the bounds which are placed upon them as a result of Cabinet rules, and now feel compelled to force the Governor to recognize his breach and offer the apology.
“When the Governor violated the code by making public comments about TCIG finances he handicapped Ministers’ ability to frankly air their views and arguments in the privacy of Cabinet and with the assurance that the concealment of these views would be maintained. He undermined the “collective responsibility” to which he is a part. How can any member of Cabinet now express their views with the threat of Cabinet’s President questioning them in public?”
The PDM Party is also questioning the motive of the breach at the press breakfast.
“However, it goes further than seeming personal because with the myriad of apparatuses provided in the new 2011 constitution it is safe to interpret his actions as one who was trying to either cause embarrassment, spark political debate over the performance of this or any Government or worse he was attempting to steer the course of local Government spending priorities all resulting in the abandonment of the neutral stance that is expected from one who holds the highest office in the land. The Governor is a senior United Kingdom Civil Servant and should be aware that his actions would suggest a lack of support for the Government.”
The Governor’s Press Breakfast meeting was a first of its kind, and based on the uproar generated since, will likely not be repeated. It was held on April 12, at his Providenciales Office at Raleigh House, Leeward Highway and included at least five media houses.
It is unclear why it has taken the PDM Party so long to make this request of and put this shocking ultimatum to the Governor; however Doug Parnell says at the start of the statement that the party believes nearly two months after the fact, the infraction can be reviewed more objectively.
It was not stated by the PDM Chairman whether the Governor was issued a private request for an apology.
The full Media Statement by the PDM Party is published at this website.