Turks and Caicos Premier’s disclosures raises conflict questions

Go Lean Commentary

Money IssuesThese are the lyrics of a previously popular Bahamian folk song:

Show & Tell what your family got
Show & Tell what your family got, from the top of your head to the tip of your toe.
Mr. MP, Mr. Senator…
Oh, Mr. MP, let me see your money. Show the world you ain’t no crook. Let me see your bank book.
My people, oh my people. You know I “is” your MP. But “yinna” does hardly see me, how you expect to see my money.
— Chorus –
Different strokes for different folks
Different egg got different yokes
Different man take different stand
Dog like road and cat like sand
Show & Tell – Eddie Minnis
(MP = Member of Parliament)

This above song tells the story of the introduction of a Financial Disclosure law in the Bahamas in the 1970’s. The concept of open financial disclosures, as is related in the song and below news article, encountered resistance and apprehension. The above song duly captured the public fears and scrutiny of the process.

The advantage of public disclosures is that it mitigates corruption and bribery temptation in the government contract bidding process. The disadvantage is that capable, competent technocrats may shy away from public service because their business – personal and family finances – is “put out there in the streets”.

Personal financial disclosure requirements are standard among the First World, but scorned in the Third World. It is what it is! See the story here:

By: Caribbean News Now contributor
PROVIDENCIALES, Turks and Caicos Islands — The recent publication of an extract from Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) Premier Rufus Ewing’s statement of registrable interests has raised conflict of interest questions regarding a controversial healthcare contract with Interhealth Canada.

Under the heading “Income Sources”, line item number two in Ewing’s statement lists “Salaries, benefits and allowances – Interhealth Canada TCI Ltd”.

Under section 25 of the Integrity Commission Ordinance 2008, all persons in public life (including members of the House of Assembly) are required to file with the Integrity Commission declarations of their incomes, assets and liabilities and those of their spouses and dependent children once every two years. This is otherwise referred to as “Section 25 Declaration”, and it is strictly confidential and may not be divulged to any person. Any breach of this confidentiality by any member of the commission or a third party and attracts stiff criminal sanctions under the ordinance.

However, the published excerpt of the Register has nothing to do with the section 25 Declaration of Financial Affairs but relates to an additional requirement under the constitution and the ordinance for members of the House of Assembly to file with the commission, once every year, statements of registrable interests of themselves and those of their spouses and dependent children.

According to Eugene Otuonye QC, director of the Integrity Commission, the published extract of Ewing’s statement of registrable interests appears genuine. He also pointed out that the register of such interests is available in the public domain and is not therefore confidential.

Otuonye went on to say that it is common and public knowledge that Dr. Dawn Perry, a gynecologist and the spouse of Premier Ewing, is legitimately employed in her own right at the Cheshire Hall Medical Centre (Interhealth Canada). She receives salaries, allowances and benefits for being so employed and these are part of the interests that the Ewing has disclosed to the public as part of his registrable interests.

However, as one observer commented, the mere fact that Ewing’s household is receiving a financial benefit from Interhealth Canada is bound to raise presumptions of a conflict of interest and may therefore explain, amongst other things, an apparent ongoing reluctance on the part of Ewing and his government to conduct or release the findings of either a financial and/or clinical audit of the operations of Interhealth Canada.

In addressing this issue, Otuonye said that any conflict of interest (perceived or actual) this scenario may present is a matter for the premier to manage within and guided by the existing legal framework, including the standing orders of the House of the Assembly and the code of conduct for persons in public life.

“As guardian of the code of conduct, the commission is interested not only in how a conflict of interest is managed but in providing such assistance as would enable the relevant conflict of interest to be effectively managed. The commission is committed to this responsibility,” he said.

It is not clear at this time how Ewing is managing this conflict of interest, whether real or perceived, except to try to distance himself from the health portfolio, which may be ineffectual given that he is ultimately the head of the elected government.

The financial cost of the $120 million debt for building two small hospitals at a cost of $4 million dollars per bed and outsourcing secondary healthcare to Interhealth Canada that together will cost the TCI around $1 billion over the course of 20 years has been the subject of ongoing controversy and concern since the contract was signed in 2009.

In response to Ewing’s earlier attempts in 2012 to distance himself from what was described by former chief financial officer Hugh McGarel Groves as a “financial disaster”, former TCI government CEO Patrick Boyle pointed out that Ewing had a “central role in developing the policy that led to the creation of the NHIP [National Health Insurance Plan]”.

A sworn statement by former health minister Karen Delancy also confirmed that Ewing made relevant decisions without consulting her and agreed the hospital construction contract without the benefit of competitive bids.

According to earlier reports, a number of civil servants (believed to be five) received payments of as much as $20,000 each — described as an “honorarium” — for doing a “good job” in negotiating and concluding the health care contract with Interhealth Canada. As then director of medical services, Ewing was said to be one of the five civil servants that received such payments.

The opposition Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) has called for a review of the Interhealth Canada contract and the release of the relevant audits.

What has magnified the problem is that the Ewing-led government continues to raise taxes and fees while ignoring numerous calls for renegotiating the Interhealth Canada contract at a lower cost and refinancing the hospital mortgage, which is reported to have an exceptionally high rate of interest of 12%. The potential savings from such renegotiated healthcare costs could eliminate and/or reduce the need for the increase in taxation.
Source: http://www.caribbeannewsnow.com/topstory-Turks-and-Caicos-premier%27s-statement-of-interests-raises-conflict-questions-20931.html

Turks and Caicos Premier'sThe book Go Lean … Caribbean focuses on economic issues, governance and optimizing the civil service administration for the Caribbean region and for the 30 member-states. This book is a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU), proffered as a super-national administration, a federal government for these states. There are 3 prime directives of the CU:

  1. Optimize the economic engines so as to grow the regional economy to $800 Billion and create 2.2 million new jobs.
  2. Establish a security apparatus (including persecution of economic and public integrity crimes) so as to mitigate the eventual emergence of “bad actors”.
  3. Improve Caribbean governance.

The tactical plan for this roadmap is a separation-of-powers for this federal government versus the governmental administrations of the member-states. Based on issues and cases similar to the foregoing news story, there is the need for accountability of public integrity.

(We are not levelling any accusation of towards Mr. Rufus Ewing, the Premier of the Turks & Caicos Islands. This commentary is simply in response, and as an analysis of the foregoing news article. There is due-process and an assumption of innocence).

There is also a CU mission to marshal against encroachments of Failed-State indicators. Any allegation of corruption or appearance of conflicts-of-interest by a Head of Government may undermine faith in that jurisdiction’s government. This might dissuade Foreign Direct Investors or efforts to repatriate the Diaspora or invite empowering immigrants. There must be a continuous sentinel; this role is assumed by applicable CU agencies.

This function is paramount in the vision of the Caribbean Union Trade Federation. The specific public integrity requirement is pronounced early in the Go Lean roadmap, in the opening Declaration of Interdependence (Page 12) with these statements:

xi. Whereas all men are entitled to the benefits of good governance in a free society, “new guards” must be enacted to dissuade the emergence of incompetence, corruption, nepotism and cronyism at the peril of the people’s best interest. The Federation must guarantee the executions of a social contract between government and the governed.

xii. Whereas the legacy in recent times in individual states may be that of ineffectual governance with no redress to higher authority, the accedence of this Federation will ensure accountability and escalation of the human and civil rights of the people for good governance, justice assurances, due process and the rule of law. As such, any threats of a “failed state” status for any member state must enact emergency measures on behalf of the Federation to protect the human, civil and property rights of the citizens, residents, allies, trading partners, and visitors of the affected member state and the Federation as a whole.

The people may cry: “How dare you, Caribbean Union, get into our business here in the TCI? This is not your concern”.

This argument is true, based on the status quo, but change has come to the Caribbean. The CU treaty compels a Security Pact for all the member-states, enacted even with the legacy sovereign countries of the United Kingdom, United States of America, Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Republic of France – the CU serves as their proxy. But this CU administration is executed by the Caribbean, for the Caribbean. The pronouncement continues:

xvi. Whereas security of our homeland is inextricably linked to prosperity of the homeland, the economic and security interest of the region needs to be aligned under the same governance. Since economic crimes … can imperil the functioning of the wheels of commerce for all the citizenry, the accedence of this Federation must equip the security apparatus with the tools and techniques for predictive and proactive interdictions.

The goal of the CU is to elevate Caribbean life, culture, economy, security and governing engine. Federal authorities would therefore have jurisdiction under a Good Governance mandate to review this case in consideration of the allegations. This is new for the region.  This new community ethos in this case is lean government.

The CU roadmap affects economics, security and governance. Based on the blatant needs depicted in the forgoing news article, the CU solutions will impact change in the region. These solutions are detailed in this book Go Lean … Caribbean as new community ethos, strategies, tactics, implementations and advocates; as follows:

Community Ethos – Privacy versus Public Protection Page 23
Community Ethos – Whistleblower Protection Page 23
Community Ethos – Witness Security & Protection Page 23
Community Ethos – Light Up the Dark Places Page 23
Community Ethos – Lean Operations Page 24
Community Ethos – Ways to Improve Negotiations Page 32
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact the Greater Good Page 37
Strategy – Repatriating Caribbean Diaspora Page 47
Strategy – Inviting Foreign Direct Investments Page 48
Strategy – Promoting Good/Clean Government Image Page 48
Tactical – Fostering a Technocracy Page 64
Tactical – Separation of Powers – Justice / District Attorneys Page 90
Implementation – Assemble – UK Territories Oversight Page 96
Implementation – Security Initiatives at Start-up Page 103
Implementation – Reasons to Repatriate Page 118
Implementation – Ways to Promote Independence Page 120
Planning – Ways to Improve Failed-State Indices Page 134
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Healthcare Page 156
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Governance Page 168
Advocacy – Ways to Better Manage the Social Contract Page 170
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Leadership Page 171
Advocacy – 10 Ways to Impact Justice Page 177
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Communications Page 186
Advocacy – Ways to Impact British Territories Page 245

The Go Lean roadmap will make the Caribbean a better place to live work, and play. The role of government is not divorced from this process, rather the member-states governing administrations are primary stakeholders, customers of the CU.

Change has come to the Caribbean. This is illustrated as a moving freight train. It cannot – must not – be stopped. Everyone must be “on board”. 🙂

Download the book Go Lean … Caribbean – now!


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