ELECTIONS IN TCI ON NOVEMBER 9th
Regardless of when the U.K. allows elections, it intends to hold onto the purse strings of the Turks and Caicos Islands at least until 2016 to ensure that no one interferes with its $260 million loan guarantee that bailed the country out of certain bankruptcy.
The requirement is nothing new. The U.K.’s Department for International Development installed a chief financial officer (CFO) in September 2010 to oversee the country’s finances in order to protect the U.K. loan guarantee, but a draft bill unveiled May 8 sets out the conditions of the CFO’s powers and responsibilities after elections are held.
The draft bill has been approved by U.K. ministers and will be considered by the governor’s Advisory Council and Consultative Forum, but the U.K. government will make the final decision on what is enacted.
“U.K. ministers will welcome comments on the bill if members of the Advisory Council and Consultative Forum wish to provide them, though requests to dilute the intent of the bill are unlikely to be accepted,” His Excellency the Gov. Ric Todd said in a statement announcing the bill.
“The provisions of the bill are wide-ranging and necessary to continue to reinforce financial control standards after elections, and to ensure government reduces its debt and builds a track record of surpluses that should allow access to commercial finance by the time the loan guarantee expires in 2016,” the governor said.
The bill would give the CFO basically the same powers as he or she has had since the position was created, including having to approve every government expenditure over a certain amount.
In addition to providing support to ministers, permanent secretaries and others, the CFO is required “to protect the Ministry of Finance and wider civil servants with finance responsibilities against any intentional or unintentional ministerial interference that may undermine TCI public finance,” according to a government statement on the bill.
“The CFO will work with a new locally elected ministerial team in their work and to continue to help the TCI on its path of financial and economic recovery. The minister of finance will retain the responsibility for the preparation of the appropriation bill, subject to CFO approval and within the financial envelope set by the CFO, and will be in a position, subject to sustainable public finances, to allocate available resources in pursuit of government policies.”
The CFO will report to the governor, hold a position equivalent to permanent secretaries, attend cabinet meetings, and have “line management responsibility” for the permanent secretary of finance and all U.K.-funded finance advisers.
The CFO also will have the power to stop any action by any government employee or body that violates part IX of the Constitution, new financial management laws or governance principals, or which jeopardizes any components of the loan guarantee.