Bellingham sets out expectations for TCI governments
(CNS): The UK’s overseas territories minister has set out a list of 18 governance principles for the interim administration in the Turks and Caicos to work towards between now and the elections on 9 November. On his recent visit to the islands, which have been under direct British rule sine 2009, Henry Bellingham said the new TCI constitution calls for all future administrations to agree their own statement of governance principles with the local House of Assembly and the UK Foreign Secretary within 28 days of taking office. From safeguarding the rights of the TCI people to balancing the budget, the list places high expectations on the islands' leaders.
“Minister Bellingham thought it extremely important that the people of the TCI know that the interim administration is working to the highest standards of Corporate Governance,” said the TCI governor Ric Todd. “He felt that it would be useful to allow the people to see the sorts of behaviours and ways of doing business that they should expect of their future governments too.”
Bellingham’s list said that all government action shall be taken in a manner designed to safeguard the fundamental rights and freedoms of every person in the Islands, as set out in the constitution, and that the government should involve the participation of the people.
All ordinances, regulations, policies and actions must be fair, proportionate, and capable of being implemented impartially and government must make sure decisions and acts of public officials are lawful, rational, proportionate and procedurally fair.
Bellingham also speaks about the need for government to protect the environment and long-term perspective on the sustainable development of the Islands, as well as encouraging lawful business activity.
In the wake of the fraud and corruption scandal that has emerged in TCI after the former premier Michael Misick was forced out of office and more recently into exile, Bellingham emphasised the rule of law.
“The Government shall ensure that the TCI Public Service implements policy in accordance with the rule of law and internationally accepted standards. The Government shall respect the integrity and impartiality of the Public Service and the Public Service shall be protected from partisan interference," the principles state. “All public appointments shall be based on merit, and all public officials shall be treated fairly. The Government shall ensure compliance with the Code of Conduct for Persons in Public Life.
“The government shall at all times respect the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary and the impartial administration of justice,” he said, adding that government must also administer crown land and public assets in a lawful, transparent and equitable manner.
He pointed to the need for government bodies to be accountable and transparent to the public and accessible to the media and that government processes, institutions and information shall also be accessible and transparent.
The government will be required to cooperate with constitutional institutions protecting good governance and other oversight, while respecting and preserving their independence. It is also required not to discriminate against people, irrespective of race, national or social origin, political or other opinion, colour, religion, language, creed, association with a national minority, property, sex, sexual orientation, birth or other status.
“Services shall be made available on an equal basis, free of preference based on family ties, political allegiance, friendship or personal gain," the minister’s principles state.
Calling on the current interim government and future governments to properly manage public finances, he said the administrations must mitigate fiscal risks, and ensure that liabilities, including debts, are sustainable and fully taken into account when setting and implementing budgets.
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