Turks and Caicos Weekly News
ACTING Premier and Minister of Finance Washington Misick on Wednesday (August 26) condemned the Governor’s appropriation of tax payers’ money for the Special Investigation and Prosecution Team’s (SIPT) security needs.
Responding to Governor Peter Beckingham’s announcement of the allocation of $2.2 million, $1.3 million less than was initially requested, to the police for the provision of the SIPT security, Misick reiterated the earlier stance by the TCI Government that the alleged threat is of little consequence when the country has more pressing and important needs to be met.
He said it is morally wrong for the UK government to be open fisted with TCIG tax payers’ money.
The allocation was made in accordance with section 4(3) of the Chief Financial Officer Ordinance and section 72(1)(b) of the constitution.
"We are amazed at the speed, and ease at which UK ministers make decisions negatively impacting the public purse of the TCI when it is expedient to their agenda.
"These actions fly in the face of transparency and the generally accepted principles of public sector budgeting practice by TCIG, and insisted on by the UK,” Misick said.
He added that the explanation for the unilateral appropriation of funds claim that the money is to cover expenses to the end of March 2016.
However, he noted that: "The truth is that given the snail’s pace at which matters are progressing, this process will not be completed by March 2016 and may go on indefinitely thereby attracting additional recurrent cost of $4 to $5 million dollars annually.”
He said it is the view of the Government that the decision to increase funding to SIPT demonstrates bias and scant regard for the welfare of the people of the TCI.
"Key infrastructure expenditures including that for a new/reconditioned RO plant for Grand Turk are routinely denied.
"One off expenditure such as ex-gratia payments to recently retiring low wage earners in the public service who have no prospects of alternative employment or any other means to support themselves, and who had a legitimate expectation to receive such payments based on policy have also been denied.
"These decisions beg the question do TCI lives matter?” the minister questioned.
He said if additional funding is to be provided to the police it should first be provided to fight youth on youth violence, community policing and border protection as is their international obligation which they continuously neglect.
He added: "The people of these Islands have sacrificed much to return to fiscal stability.
"It is a slap in the face that their sacrifice is being rewarded by diverting resources away from infrastructure development and social programmes.
"My Government decries the continued draconian stance by Britain towards the people of these Islands and will not be silent in the face of its imperious posture."
THE TEN defendants charged with various acts of corruption during Michael Misick’s term in office have refuted and rejected claims by the Governor that a terrorist threat exists and as such additional funds are needed to protect the prosecutors in the case.
On Wednesday (August 26), the defendants called the allocation of $2.2 million to the police for protection of the Special Investigation and Prosecution Team (SIPT), a wicked and evil attempt by the British to create a climate of fear in the TCI, as they allegedly did before.
The defendants also stated that they will be seeking legal advice on defamation and the attempt by the Governor to frame them, due to his claims of a terrorist threat to the SIPT.
See the full text of the defendants’ combined statement to the press this past week:
"We, the defendants in these corruption cases that were brought by the British government, categorically deny and totally reject any suggestion by Governor Peter Beckingham that the threat of terrorism is the reason why $2.2million of Turks and Caicos Islands Government’s money will now be allocated to provide security for Special Prosecutor Helen Garlick and her team.
"In our view, for the British Government to override the decision of the Premier and Cabinet of the Turks and Caicos Islands, which had decided against granting these funds, is nothing more than a continuation of the UK’s financial rape of our country, a blatant abuse of their power and the criminal justice system, and a wicked, evil and dangerous attempt to create the misleading impression of climate of fear in the Turks and Caicos Islands as they did before.
"We also wish to inform the people of these Islands, our neighbouring CARICOM countries and indeed the rest of the world, that allegations of possible terrorism and threats of criminal activity against the prosecution team are lame, fabricated excuses that have been trumped-up only to justify giving additional funds to Special Prosecutor Helen Garlick, Prosecutor Andrew Mitchell and their colleagues in the British legal fraternity who have been abusing the criminal justice system in the Turks and Caicos Islands as part of a well-orchestrated get-rich scheme, by politically prosecuting and persecuting former Cabinet ministers and others.
"By overriding the Cabinet in such a high-handed, shameful and disrespectful manner, UK Ministers Shapps and Swayne have now joined their failed predecessors who were active participants in the pork-barrel politics when it comes to the TCI, whereby a gravy-train and slush fund have been created strictly for the use and benefit of UK interests. It is modern-day economic slavery of the highest and most despicable order.
"With the Turks and Caicos Islands Government having already paid an average of $11 million per year to the Helen Garlick and her Special Investigation and Prosecution Team, it is now a disgraceful financial scandal that Mr David Cameron’s British government would order that this additional $2.2 million is paid to them.
"Despite the Governor’s reference to our country’s recent prosperity the TCI desperately needs repairs to important infrastructure, many Government departments can’t get basic supplies, Grand Turk is in desperate of water making equipment, young men and women can't get scholarships, hospitals lack critical supplies, and the police have to beg for necessary equipment while dead bodies pile up at the morgues (the recent travesty with the police only having one working vehicle, while the SIPT had numerous, being the perfect example).
"Despite that sad state of affairs the Governor thinks he can now find $2.2 million in the TCI Treasury to waste on the SIPT’s security.
"Governor Peter Beckingham is well aware of these things and he should therefore know better than seeking to justify this unnecessary expenditure by wrongfully trying to compare the Turks and Caicos Islands to places like Mumbai, Thailand and Bangkok where terrorism exists.
"The Governor also knows that the defendants are not the ones responsible for the delays in these trials.
"Not only are appeals a part of the right of all defendants, but the record would show that the authorities had refused to grant additional funds to ensure that defence lawyers were adequately paid.
"As for the defendants dragging out the trials for the last 18 months, it will not be lost on any resident that Helen Garlick and her SIPT have been here for more than six years.
"During that time they have been changing laws, introducing entirely new legislation, collecting hundreds of thousands of pages of documents, cutting deals with expatriates they say were corrupt, and turning a blind eye to persons they feel might embarrass the current British government.
"In a country that claims to have free and democratic traditions, and to be ruled by law the defendants have an absolute right to challenge the lawfulness of what, from even a cursory glance, are highly engineered trials, as well as the SIPT’s interference and management of every facet of the criminal justice system in order to secure convictions.
"It is quite sad and unfortunate when a British-appointed Governor would seek to deal such a devastating blow to the image of these beautiful by nature Islands by associating us with terrorism and high-level criminal activity, when no such characterisation of the Turks and Caicos Islands can be found on the websites of the UK’s own Foreign and Commonwealth Office, nor the Central Intelligence Agency or the US State Department.
"Indeed, the Governor, Helen Garlick, Andrew Mitchell and the many UK and other residents of the Turks and Caicos Islands know full well that we live in a peaceful, safe and low-crime country.
"It is well known in these Islands that many members of Ms Garlick’s team of investigators and lawyers have been living-it-up in luxury in the Turks and Caicos Islands for the past five years, partying excessively and intermingling with residents of these Islands and they have not encountered any threats or violence.
"This, therefore, is why we want the people of these Islands and the rest of world to fully understand the real and true background and context of this ridiculous, unfair and unreasonable order by the British government to force TCIG to give the Special Investigation and Prosecution Team $2.2 million.
"As a country and as a people, we cannot continue to turn a blind eye to these horrible injustices which the British continue to inflict on our people.
"These things are wrong and unjust and we will continue to expose them to the world as we remain steadfast in our fight for justice, because in the final analysis it all points to the fact that the British government, the Attorney General Helen Garlick and the criminal justice system will do everything in their power to justify these show trials, which cannot and will not be fair to us.
"It is worth noting that the Governor has refused to account to parliament on how the SIPT monies are being spent until after the trials, this in itself is in breach of good governance and sets the SIPT above every other Government department that have to give account for tax payers’ money.
"We call on the Government to set up an Independent Commission of Inquiry as to the operations and spending of the SIPT, they have spent over $60 million of Turks and Caicos Islands money over the past six years.
"To this end, we shall seek immediate legal advice for defamation and trying to frame us.”