By Caribbean News Now contributor
PROVIDENCIALES, Turks and Caicos Islands -- The opposition Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) and its leadership team on Wednesday addressed the most pressing issues the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) is facing, ahead of a crucial by-election on Friday that could result in a change of government.
The financial condition of the TCI, which is very fragile and requires an immediate financial plan, was the top item.
A recent letter from Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague warned that a financial strategy policy plan is needed. The PDM indicated this is long overdue by the present government and must be put together immediately.
In earlier press statements, PDM and opposition leader Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson said that the currently shelved value added tax (VAT) is still looming and may still be imposed if an acceptable financial plan is not forthcoming.
During House of Assembly meetings the PDM opposition was critical of the current Progressive National Party (PNP) administration, which had asked for a nine-month preparation period. The PDM said it can put this together in less than 90 days, using existing data modified with planned overlays.
The plan, the PDM said, was due from the PNP by January 31 this year and it appears that the government has not even begun to put the plan together. To facilitate the immediate creation of this plan, the PDM said it will remove tourism from the financial ministry, where it can be expanded both within existing and new markets.
PDM went further, saying that each and every failed development will be researched for resurrection and redevelopment and completion. Currently, in one election district alone, the North/Middle Caicos area has four developments that were started and then were abandoned incomplete. The PDM said that, once these resorts go forward, the former residents and their families of these islands will return from Providenciales where they have been seeking employment. This will relieve school congestion in Providenciales and provide private sector employment.
PDM also said that, once they are restored to power, the previous reputation of corruption associated with development will be overcome and inward investment can be sought with moral authority.
On the second important issue of health care, the PDM promised immediately to meet with the medical association to get their input and recommendations. The PDM also promised an immediate audit of the national Health Insurance Plan (NHIP) its health care provider InterHealth Canada and the hospitals cost, mortgage and interest rate.
The hospital contractor, Johnston International, which is now in receivership, built the hospitals without a bid tender or any follow up audit. The PDM said it will simultaneously and quickly provide a study for a better method of providing health care. This could result, the PDM said, in the termination of the existing health plan.
Cartwright-Robinson said that she is aware of specific cases of failures of medical care and went on to indicate that one highlight of outgoing chief financial officer Hugh McGarel-Groves’ financial administration was his recognition of the burdensome costs associated with was has become derisively known as Ewingcare, after its architect, current Premier Dr Rufus Ewing.