Published On: Mon, Oct 15th, 2012

New Turks and Caicos constitution comes into effect

PROVIDENCIALES, Turks and Caicos Islands — The new Turks and Caicos Constitution Order 2011 takes effect on Monday.

This marks the beginning of the end of the three-year UK-led interim administration, following the return to a locally elected government after the general election on 9 November 2012. The Turks and Caicos Islands are a British Overseas Territory.

The new Constitution was a joint product of the UK government and the political and civic leaders of the Turks and Caicos Islands.

The interim administration took over the running of the country following the suspension of parts of the previous 2006 Constitution following the Sir Robin Auld Commission of Inquiry, which stated that there was “… a high probability of systemic corruption in government and the legislature and among public officers in the Turks and Caicos Islands in recent years.”

And so three years ago a programme of public sector and other reform began to improve the transparency, accountability and public financial management of the Turks and Caicos Islands. This reform work was more recently managed through a framework of eight stated ‘milestones’:

  1. Implementation of a new TCI Constitution Order, in support of recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry, which underpins good governance and sound public financial management
  2. Introduction of a number of new ordinances, including those making provision for: i) the electoral process and regulation of political parties; ii) integrity and accountability in public life; iii) public financial management
  3. Establishment of robust and transparent public financial management processes to provide a stable economic environment and a strengthening of the TCI government's capacity to manage its public finances
  4. Implementation of budget measures to put the TCI government on track to achieve a fiscal surplus in the financial year ending March 2013
  5. Implementation of a transparent and fair process for acquisition of Turks &Caicos Islander status
  6. Significant progress with the civil and criminal process recommended by the Commission of Inquiry, and implementation of measures to enable these to continue unimpeded
  7. Implementation of a new Crown land policy
  8. Substantial progress in the reform of the public service

Marking this historic moment in the development of the Turks and Caicos Islands, Governor Ric Todd stated: “Today marks the culmination of a huge amount of work to get the country to this point where it is significantly more transparent, accountable and financially better run. I would like to thank colleagues and stakeholders, both here in the Turks and Caicos, the UK and elsewhere for all their efforts in making this possible.

“We now have a modern Constitution that is the result of wide consultation including a Turks and Caicos delegation who visited London in the summer of 2011 to help ensure that it reflects the wishes of both the citizens of the islands and Ministers in London.

“Since former UK Minister Bellingham announced this summer that sufficient progress had been made against the milestones to allow elections, I have been meeting regularly with the political parties and have been impressed by their diligent preparations. I would also like to thank the Elections Supervisor and his team for all their detailed work in preparing for the poll.

“We have an experienced international observers coming to our Islands for the elections. They will be here to ensure that 9th November passes off as intended as a free and fair democratic election. I welcome their presence and look forward to receiving their reports over the weekend after polling day.

“The government’s work does not now stop until after the election results are announced and a new administration is in place. There is much to do and we will continue in our efforts to improve the services offered to the citizens of the TCI, although, of course, no more legislation can now be passed until the new administration is in place.

“The new constitution will help to ensure that the incoming administration govern this nation fairly and transparently, and in tandem with the other legislative enhancements put in place, will bolster transparency and good governance for the citizens of the Turks and Caicos.

“I look forward to the remainder of the political party campaigns, and trust they will continue in the same spirit that has so far been demonstrated.

“I am also looking forward to election-day itself. The education programme launched last week by the Supervisor of Elections will ensure that all citizens eligible to vote are fully informed on the new electoral system and the choices they will be asked to make on the Electoral District and All Island ballot papers.

“The building blocks for successful elections are now in place and we all eagerly anticipate the return to elected government here in the Turks and Caicos Islands.”

Source: Caribbean News Now

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