By Caribbean News Global contributor
PROVIDENCIALES, TCI – The Turks and Caicos government is in a financial crisis as it enters the grip of a recession never seen by the country. The failure of the minister for finance Sharlene Cartwright Robinson to properly anticipate and make plans for financing the country through the pandemic led the British government to ostensibly approve or insist on a debt advisor.
Minister for finance and premier told reporters of the grim news about the recession and the debt advisor. The minister of finance said, “we are finalizing a debt advisor” who is expected to soon be on the job in the TCI to assist the minister with plans to keep the country afloat.
In a recent joint press conference Governor of TCI Nigel Dakin announced the need for several hundred million dollars in borrowing to prevent the country finances collapsing.
“So, now to the economy, this is the premier’s area, so I will say little other than this, TCI entered this pandemic in a vulnerable position. […] We had strong reserves, next to no borrowing and a triple B plus rating. The premier told the territory in her last press conference that there will be a need to borrow, and there will, the figures will emerge but obvious to me it will be to the tune of many hundreds of millions of dollars, no country will get through this period without doing so”, the Governor said.
The announcement was met with skepticism by the leader of the opposition Washington Misick who immediately called the minister of finance “inept” and “out of her depth” and requested a general election be held before any massive borrowings take place. However, Misick insists that no borrowings will take place before an election. It appears that the insistence by the Turks and Caicos Governor and the financing authority of the ministry of finance, led by the premier and minister of finance, remain at odds over borrowing needs for the government.
“How TCI’S debt is used and paid for are of course key questions. The premier, the permanent secretary and myself have kept the UK informed over the last six months, so there will be no surprises in London. As and when the territory needs support the UK will backstop loans that are appropriate and properly financed”, said Dakin, eluding to the difference in views held about the amounts needed and taxes needed to finance such loans.
Local news outlets The Sun TCI, The TCI Weekly news and Magnetic Media in their Friday publications, reported the harsh new realities about the Turks and Caicos Islands government officially entering a recession, leaving little doubt that hard times are in store for the more than 35,000 inhabitants.
In the same joint press conference, Governor Dakin announced the need for several hundred million dollars in borrowing to prevent the country finances collapsing but made it clear at the outset that it was with the minister of finance to present the plans as this was her area of authority.
However, the plans presented to the country by the minister of finance, premier Sharlene Cartwright Robinson in a recent Cabinet release since the joint press conference suggested the country will borrow only for COVD-19 related expenses. Sources in finance put the sum at meagre $10 – 20 million from a local institution First Caribbean International Bank. This pales in comparison to the many hundreds of millions the Governor says is needed.