By David Tapfer
Last week I wrote about thinking outside the box and bringing the TCI to a point where there is unity, while leaving corruption behind. To do this, we will have to revise the constitution -- something our Premier has already mentioned. Unfortunately he wants simply to return to the 2006 constitution and achieve independence. The mess we are in today is a direct result of how his party and his mentor handled things under near independence.
David Tapfer is a retired, US-born engineer and management executive. He is the former chairman of the Middle Caicos Branch of the Peoples Democratic Movement
The question then remains how we achieve checks and balances within our own framework and without the interference of the mother country. The Lord and TCI residents now know Britain has done a terrible job of oversight. Too little and now too much. Instead of riding a pendulum swinging madly to extremes, how can we achieve balance?
Britain now has a coalition government. In the USA, Obama and the senate are together and the House of Representatives balances out. If and when they decide to compromise, things get done. State, county and city governments enter the picture and often set a better agenda for the federal folks.
Tiny TCI is smaller than a small US or British city but we need to achieve balance, which is never achievable as we gyrate from one party to another. We will never prevent corruption with weak opposition. We have proven corruption has to reach astonishing heights and opposition must have strong voices to stop it in its tracks. Remember we had to wake up Britain and get Munn fired.
We have important national issues -- health care and education, for example -- which cannot be ministered by local representative ministers elected by tiny local majorities. What I suggested last week is that we recognize there are individual issues that pertain to each island. Each island needs a representative who lives “on island”.
We need the force of the “at large” popular vote for the national issues and ministries. Let us look to what the November election would have brought us. Premier Sharlene Cartwright Robinson, Minister Immigration-Labour, Doctor Rufus Ewing as Minister of Health, Josephine Connolly Minister of Education, Washington Misick and Derek Taylor would have to be selected for Minister of Development-Tourism and/or Finance. They would all be members of Sharlene's cabinet.
The PNP would still have the majority of votes but the ministers would have to provide a balanced agenda, Premier Sharlene would see to that. We would not be wasting our time chasing CARICOM, independence or Papua New Guinea. Any new taxes would be truly temporary and the British would be forced to kick in a fair share. The constituencies could demand representation.
Today, health and education are ministered by folks elected by local majorities not at large. Not effective. Last week I went further. Six seats in Provo are too many. We need two Provo at large reps who can be voted in by all Provo voters Not just Long Bay and the Bight. Grand Turk needs to be handled the same way. Two Grand Turk at large representatives voted on by all GT voters.
Middle, North Caicos and Salt Cay would a have local representative living there. Forget the DC concept which is powerless and ineffective. Can we begin to think outside the box? Why not start by having Rufus and Sharlene conduct town hall meetings with these ideas in mind.