By Dana Malcolm
#TurksandCaicos, April 6, 2023 – The People’s Democratic Movement has now opened the floor for potential candidates to join the party. The move comes two months after they announced the party was putting together a shadow cabinet and would be seeking young people to join.
In a March 31st Press Release, Ezra Taylor, Party Chairman indicated that the party was looking for “freedom fighters” to fill its ranks for both aspiring national and constituency representatives.
“The Party invites freedom fighters and agents of change that Identify with its mission and purpose and are desirous of representing the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands at its highest political level, to submit applications for consideration,” the press release said; promising that it was committed to giving all applicants a fair opportunity for consideration.
The PDM had promised that with this push at increasing their candidates, they were trying to provide ‘dynamic leadership’ for the Turks and Caicos, and they were ready to win the next election season.
Taylor, at the time explained that the PDM had significant numbers of qualified candidates expressing interest but had called on the other interested candidates to step up as well.
“We want persons who are going to serve this country, not the PDM, to prepare themselves if they are interested in candidacy. We want everyone who is interested in serving this country as a candidate when we open this process to express your interest.”
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.
Premier makes first national Statement, Announces who gets Finance Portfolio
#TurksandCaicosIslands, February 27, 2024 – The Premier has advised Her Excellency Anya Williams, Acting Governor, in accordance with Section 34(2)(b) of the Turks and Caicos Islands Constitution the following change to ministerial appointments with effect from Tuesday, February 27, 2024:
• Honourable Charles Washington Misick, Premier and Minister with responsibility for Finance, Investment, and Trade
The Honourable Erwin Jay Saunders will continue to serve as Member of Parliament for the All-Island District.
In announcing this ministerial change, the Premier stated, “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. My government will undertake a review of the various functions and responsibilities as outlined in the current ministerial portfolios, and I will advise the Acting Governor of any additional changes in due course.”
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