By Dana Malcolm
#TurksandCaicos, March 15, 2023 – The obstacle course that is the Government’s procurement processes has contributed to yet another failing in public sector operations; this time specifically bogging down the efforts to get the Turks and Caicos Islands off the infamous EU Blacklist. In an interview with Magnetic Media, E. Jay Saunders, Deputy Premier and Minister of Finance expounds on the road to getting the TCI Financial Services Sector exonerated by the OECD.
Comments obtained on Monday March 13, 2023, exposed that while the country was languishing on a grey list, DP Saunders got in contact with Kroll, one of the world’s premier financial consultants, to fix the issue.
“I reached out to them and said [told them] the issue that we’re having, and this was from last year July before we got Blacklisted— it’s just that government moves so slowly.”
The lengthy procurement time frame is not the fault of departmental employees, but rather the UK’s rigid process which the TCI must manoeuvre in order to confirm and issue projects. It is notoriously criticized by successive elected Government Administrations.
“We didn’t get to a contract stage until after we were Blacklisted, and that contract didn’t get finalized until January of this year. In the private sector, we would have turned around a contract with them within weeks.”
Immediately after the contract was signed, around a month later, the consultants were on the ground in the Turks and Caicos.
Last year Premier Washington Misick announced nationally that his Administration was working on the speed of the procurement process; this is the third Administration to make such a statement. Further to this, anticipated amendments to parts of the TCI 2011 Constitution Order, may effect change in the tedious nature of procurement.
“Let me say that part of the issue that we do have is the slow rate at which procurement is made and we are making significant steps now working with the United Kingdom in updating the Procurement Ordinance,” said the Premier in a recorded from last July during a National Security Conference.
Following that, the Premier met with Jesse Norman, then minister of the Foreign Office, regarding crime, Crown land, and the extensive procurement process to which TCI public sector contracts are subjected.
It is expected that the issue will come up again at the Joint Ministerial Council (JMC) shifted from last November to this coming May; Premier Washington Misick will co-chair the session.
The JMC now follows the coronation of King Charles lll, also in May.
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Saunders “surprised” by move to Backbench; promises to address the nation this week
#TurksandCaicosIslands, February 28, 2023 – Surprise was one of the main emotions rolling off of E. Jay Sauders, All Island Elected Member, when he spoke to Magnetic Media Tuesday afternoon. The brief phone interview came only minutes after he confirmed to the media around 3 p.m. that he had been removed from his post as Deputy Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands by Washington Misick, TCI Premier.
“I am a bit surprised– I sit here at the pleasure of the Premier, the Premier acted in a certain way and it is his right to decide who he wants and doesn’t want in his cabinet and that’s the position that he took.”
The biggest question now is who will replace Saunders as the Premier’s right hand man, Magnetic Media spoke to a high-profile source around 3:30 pm who told us: “The Premier hasn’t made a decision in that regard as yet so there’s nothing yet to announce.”
It’s likely, the source told us, that the Premier will take on the Ministry of Finance himself, having had experience with that ministry in the past.
Sure enough minutes after that conversation a press release came from the Office of the Premier announcing that he is the new Minister of Finance, Investment and Trade; the statement also bid Saunders goodbye.
“I wish to thank Honourable Saunders for his service these past three years as my Deputy and for his stewardship in the ministries he served,” Misick said.
It comes as no surprise to residents however and a firestorm of comments followed the announcement,
“This is so wrong!!!” said one resident.
It was a sentiment fielded by Magnetic Media over a dozen times.
“He is running this country and this party with his silly feelings. And with Washy age, he need to relax himself.”
Another predicted, “This will hurt the PNP in the next election for sure, plus with the current conflict of interest matter pending with Washy and the Integrity Commission, this was not the best move at this time for him to be both Premier and Minister of Finance.”
The booting is the second high-profile shuffle in the Washington Misick-led PNP Administration following the removal of Akierra Missick, Elected Member for Leeward from her post as Minister of Physical Planning and Infrastructure Development in 2023.
That shakeup went totally without explanation, similarly, no explanation has come from the Premier’s office this time either, but it follows a leadership challenge at the party’s national convention just days prior.
Saunders had attempted to go against Misick for the head of the PNP party but could not get enough votes to push the challenge through.
As a former CEO of DigicelTCI, E. Saunders initially served as the Health and Human Services minister as the country clawed its way back to health after a brutal Coronavirus Pandemic. He was then appointed, by Misick, to the ministry for Finance, Investment and Trade, setting and achieving lofty goals including the achievement of a $400 million yearly revenue two years into his tenure and the removal of the Turks and Caicos from the EU Blacklist of non-compliant tax jurisdictions.
Now with one year left before a new general election is called, Saunders, in his own words, will join the rest of the backbench of politicians.
Also feeling the “stick” is reported to be Jas Walkin, the man Washington Misick appointed to lead his winning general election campaign in 2021. Walkin had put his name forward for party leader but hurriedly withdrew it. Reports of a suspension have been shared via social media with residents expressing disdain at the possibility.
The consensus from many, they’re not surprised and also not happy about the removal of Jas.
For now, Saunders is focused on moving,
“Depending on how quickly I can get through the packing up of my office, I’ll do a Public Address tomorrow, but no later than Wednesday,” he promised.
The demotion also means a significant pay cut for Saunders from the Deputy Premier’s $175,000 base salary and $60,000 in allowances to the $97,000 base salary and $10,200 in allowances which is paid out to Members of the House of Assembly, where he will continue to serve as an All Island Elected member.
Kyle Speaks as Party Chairman
#TurksandCaicos, February, 27th, 2024 – After a challenge to the party’s leadership and resulting public chatter, Kyle Knowles, Progressive National Party Chairman is calling for the PNP to ‘stand together in support of the ‘duly elected premier and leader,’ emphasizing that ‘the re-election reflects the confidence and trust placed in him by the members of the party.’ The challenge was issued by E Jay Saunders, current Deputy Party Leader over the weekend, Knowles maintains there was unity, civility, and passionate debates during the National Congress. It comes on the cusp of a general election where the winning party will have for the first time 5 years in office.
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