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Highly Sought After Kroll working to remove black-eye on TCI’s #2 Industry

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By Dana Malcolm  

Staff Writer  

 

 

#TurksandCaicos, March 15, 2023 – “I think we are going to be best in class, I think we are going to be the case study for how you go from being on the blacklist to putting in the proper systems to meet the requirements,” says E Jay Saunders, Finance Minister and Deputy Premier, in an expression of total faith in the upswing of the country’s financial sector. This is thanks to Government funding and expertise from Kroll, a company he describes as a world leader in financial compliance consultation.  

“We hired the absolute best, the former head of the Financial Action Task Force. This is no exaggeration or bravado; we have the best advising us on getting off of the blacklist – I’m not saying the biggest but certainly headed up by one of the best.” 

He told Magnetic Media in an interview over the phone that the Government had spared no expense to get Kroll, which had been on the ground in February. The country is currently fighting to get out of an EU blacklisting caused by poor computer systems, he says. 

While the Deputy Premier admits that the TCI stumbled in that regard, Saunders says the country was never non-compliant or unresponsive. The Minister explained that, coupled with the EU’s disproportionate language surrounding the blacklisting, to fit EU standards small countries with small economies had to spend an extraordinary amount of money and that was not always viable.

“Sometimes your industry just can’t afford it,” he maintained. “The only reason we got lucky is because we have a lot of cash.” 

He says connecting with Kroll via LinkedIn and getting them into the Turks and Caicos was a serious feat on the part of the Government.  

“They didn’t have to take it because this is a small jurisdiction for them. Just by luck, by the Grace of God, the company headed by one of the top people in the world dealing with the OECD accepted our proposal.” 

Saunders said several of the TCI’s financial services stakeholders had met with Kroll during their February visit and were deeply impressed with where the country seems to be heading with the help of the consultants, and the Government says it’s already putting $2 million into needed computer systems as part of this upgrade.   

“There is no question about it. I’m confident that by February 2024, we will be off the list– I’m completely confident and there are no lasting repercussions.”   

While October 2023 would be good, he said he didn’t want the company to rush for that deadline and skimp on proper upgrades. 

“We told them don’t aim for the minimum requirements, put in something that puts us best in class, we are already on it, don’t try to meet a deadline. I know people get concerned about that type of position, but I don’t want to be on, get off and then realize- we’re back on it,” he explained.  

The finance minister, who is also charged with transitioning all of the Government to electronic systems, said that the EU’s requirements were moving targets, upgraded and fine-tuned every year and with Kroll’s members having intimate knowledge of that they would equip the country with a system that would hold up to the rapidly shifting goal posts. 

“With that we can be best in class and start growing our financial services sector. I don’t want us to be constantly trying to catch up. We want them to put us in a position where we are the Switzerland of the Caribbean.” 

He was absolutely sure this would come to fruition. 

Currently, the Turks and Caicos Financial Service sector, its #2 industry is earning ?? annually; Saunders wants to grow that to ??? by????. He did not say. On the Government side, the regulatory body the Financial Services Commission is managed by both elected Government Administration and the UK Governor. 

“I think people are going to be surprised at how far we’ve come– I can guarantee we will be off the blacklist in twelve months, and I will not be surprised if the OECD writes a recommendation saying the Turks and Caicos did it right.”  

The desire to go along with the EU’s “arbitrary” regulations is fuelled by the knowledge that the TCI desperately needs to diversify its economy.  Financial services could be a new frontier, believed the DP.  

As for whether this blacklisting will affect those ambitions, only time will tell. 

Government

FINALISATION OF CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM PROPOSALS

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Turks and Caicos

 

  1. Today Her Excellency the Governor convened a meeting with the Honourable Premier, the Honourable Leader of the Opposition, the Honourable Attorney General, Sir Jeffrey Jowell KC and the FCDO’s Deputy Director Adam Pile to finalise the package of constitutional reform so it may be submitted to the Privy Council in July. Also in attendance was Her Excellency the Deputy Governor.
  2. The bipartisan constitutional talks with the UK Government in Grand Turk (October 2023) agreed to move to a fully elected House of Assembly*, with four additional elected members replacing the members appointed by the Governor, Premier and Leader of the Opposition. In the wider package of constitutional reform, all other major issues have been agreed in further meetings and correspondence, bar the timing of a transition to a fully elected House of Assembly*.

Scope of work of the Electoral District Boundary Commission

  1. The Electoral District Boundary Commission was stood up in February to review in the first instance the boundaries of the electoral districts into which the islands are divided in line with s.61 of the Constitution. The Governor, in line with the agreement of the UK Government, has asked that they then assess options for the composition of the four additional elected seats. This work will need to be put out to public consultation and submitted to the House of Assembly, after which further work will be required to implement the approved changes.
  2. In order to deliver constitutional reform for the Turks and Caicos Islands this summer, the agreed package of reforms now need to be submitted to the UK Government so it may be made by His Majesty The King in the Privy Council in July.

Transition to an all-elected House of Assembly*

  1. Given this timing, it was noted that there are two options for the transition to an all-elected House of Assembly*:
  1. A transitionary phase that provides for an all-elected House of Assembly* at the forthcoming election with four additional ‘all island’ candidates for the next term, following which the further work of the Electoral District Boundary Commission will inform the composition of the four additional seats going forward; or
  2. Retain the status quo of four appointed members at the forthcoming election and wait to move to an all-elected House* until the subsequent election, following the work of the Electoral District Boundary Commission which will inform the composition of the four additional seats.
  1. Agreement was not reached at the meeting on which option to pursue.
  1. The Honourable Premier continues in his view that the transition to an all-elected House* should take place at the forthcoming election with the four additional elected seats contested on an ‘all island’ basis. This would be a transitionary phase, until the subsequent election where the work of the Electoral District Boundary Commission will inform what additional constituencies may be implemented.
  2. The Honourable Leader of the Opposition has confirmed his view that the transition to an all-elected House of Assembly* should not take place at the forthcoming election, that the status quo should be retained with four appointed members; and the move to an all-elected House of Assembly should only take place at the subsequent election, where the work of the Electoral District Boundary Commission will inform what additional constituencies may be implemented.
  1. In light of the need to provide a clear position to the UK Government, a motion will be tabled for debate in the House of Assembly to allow a full debate on when a fully elected legislature should be introduced.
  • other than the Attorney General

 

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Government

Government Prepares to roll out Financial Assistance Programme (FAP) for Senior Citizens

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#TurksandCaicos, May 31, 2024 – The Office of the Premier and Public Policy and the Ministry of Finance, Investment and Trade wants to advise the general public that plans for the Financial Assistance Programme (FAP), aimed at supporting the elderly population within our society are underway. $3.1 million in funding was approved in the current Budget Year 2024/2025

The Financial Assistance Programme, a cornerstone initiative of the Government, is a commitment to augment the social welfare of the aged in the TCI.   It is being carefully crafted to support elderly citizens who may be facing financial hardships.

The Government is fully committed to ensuring the smooth implementation of the Financial Assistance Programme as promised; and to meet the originally proposed deadline for payment of the benefit in July 2024 posed for eligible individuals.  The payment, when distributed will be retroactive to 1 April 2024.

The Government reaffirms its dedication to fostering a society that cares for its elderly population and provides them with the assistance and resources necessary to build stronger communities where everyone can not only survive but thrive.

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Government

TCI GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCES JUDICIAL APPOINTMENT

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#TurksandCaicos, May 21, 2024 – Ms. Patricia Arana has been sworn in on13 May 2024 as Resident Magistrate, Grand Turk.  She first joined the Judiciary of the Turks and Caicos Islands as Registrar of the Magistrate’s Court in April 2022.

Prior to taking up the position of Registrar of the Magistrate’s Court, she was the Deputy Registrar General at the Supreme Court of her native Belize in Belize City. She started her judicial career as a Magistrate in 2010 and was promoted to the position of Senior Magistrate in 2015. As Senior Magistrate, she worked in several districts in Belize, and acted as Chief Magistrate on several occasions.  She was also within that period, seconded for two years as Legal Counsel to the Financial Intelligence Unit of Belize.

Ms. Arana is a graduate of the University of the West Indies where she obtained a Bachelor of Laws (Hons) Degree, and a graduate of the Norman Manley Law School, Jamaica, where she obtained her Legal Education Certificate. There she distinguished herself when she received the H.H. Dunn Memorial Prize for Legal Drafting and Interpretation.

Regionally, Ms. Arana currently serves as an Executive Member of the Caribbean Association of Judicial Officers (CAJO) on behalf of the Judiciary of the Turks and Caicos Islands. She is also an active member of the Caribbean Association of Women Judges (CAWJ), and the National Garifuna Council (NGC) Orange Walk Branch.

In the Turks and Caicos Islands, Ms. Arana has since her appointment in 2022, served in various capacities: ADR Administrator and lately a member of the Mediation Committee, a member of the Breach Process Rules Committee, Justice of the Peace Vetting Panel, Justice of the Peace Disciplinary Panel, and Election Adjudicator.

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