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Government

UK Parliament passes OT motion and other agreements; must now back it up

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By Dana Malcolm 

Staff Writer 

 

 

#UnitedKingdom, May 19, 2023 – The United Kingdom and the Overseas Territories have revealed in detail what transpired at the Joint Ministerial Council on May 11th – 12th and highlights include promises of cash and more freedom and beefed up security.  Included in the list of 29 agreements was:

Political Partnership

  • A reaffirmation of the right of self-determination for the peoples of the Territories;
  • UK support for requests for the removal of the countries (who wish it) from the United Nations list of non-self- governing Territories

Irregular Migration 

  • Over £10 million earmarked to support OT law enforcement and border security capability and capacity building.
  • Acknowledgement of the irregular-migration challenges that some Overseas Territories are facing, including as a result of the current situation in Haiti, and a commitment to exploring options to increase support

Economic Resilience

  • A commitment to meeting the reasonable needs of Territories where financial self-sufficiency is not possible, as the Overseas Territories continue to have the first call on the aid budget.
  • Discussions re access to concessional financing,
  • A brand new ministerial-level annual dialogue focused on tackling illicit finance, to be first held in the British Virgin Islands

The Environment

  • £10 million per year until 2025 for applicants to Darwin Plus
  • Commitment to prioritise climate change actions in UK funding;
  • A new joint UK Overseas Territories Biodiversity Strategy;
  • Technical support for OT’s in climate change
  • A commitment to exploring ways to ensure that funding for the Overseas Territories is not cut short as a result of loss of access to EU environment funding

Maritime and shipping 

  • Commitment to strengthening maritime capabilities in the territories and recognise the need for future investment by promoting defined career pathways and supporting those wishing to work in this essential industry.
  •  Collaboration on ensuring effective maritime security within the Territories

Education 

  • commitment to resolving problems with the process for issuance of visas for students with British Overseas Territories Citizenship to study in the UK.

In addition to that, the UK Parliament has unanimously passed a motion to defend the sovereignty and borders of Overseas Territories from foreign powers among other promises following this year’s Joint Ministerial Council Meeting.

The revelation was shared by the office of Alicia Kearns MP, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee on Friday May 12th. Communication passed on to the residents of the TCI by the Office of the Premier explained that following a Backbench Business Debate on the future of the OT’s  including the Turks and Caicos, UK politicians formally agreed to the following:

‘This House is committed to upholding the interests of British Overseas Territories and their citizens; recognises the special historical, cultural, and social bonds that bind the United Kingdom and Overseas Territories; and calls upon the Government to ensure that British Overseas Territories citizens’ rights as British citizens are upheld, to defend the sovereignty and borders of Overseas Territories from foreign powers, and to consider the unique circumstances of each Territory when formulating policies which affect them.’

The formal commitment solidifies the bare minimum of what the Overseas Territories have been asking of the United Kingdom for years and now the UK must put it into practice with funding and laws.  It is only immediate tangible support of this commitment that will truly benefit residents across the OT’s and validate the UKs claim to treating them as equal British Citizens.

Kearns’ Office said the OT’s have the genuine support of Members of Parliament as MPs from across the House urged the Government to ensure that the JMC was a success, and that OTs are listened to, and their requests acted on.

Kearns herself said she was “Full of optimism for the future of British OTs,” following the meeting.

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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