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Recent Turks and Caicos cabinet reshuffle exposes ministerial ultimatum

Stubbs-Smith’s husband, Kevin Smith, a journeyman IT professional, parted company with monopoly power company Fortis TCI at the end of the last year on less than amicable terms.

Kevin Smith has now reportedly relocated to the US state of Texas instead of looking for new employment in the TCI. 

As minister of health Stubbs-Smith was already widely perceived as a weak and ineffective minister, who came in for much criticism and had apparently grown tired of the complaints laid at her door, but saw this as a turning point and threatened to leave the territory if Ewing didn’t transfer her to a ministry that would provide greater travel opportunities so that she could be with her husband in Texas. 

However, Stubbs-Smith has been conspicuous by her absence from the tourism ministry since she was handed the prize in her successful ultimatum ploy some three months ago. The ministry is effectively being run by the tourism director Ralph Higgs. This is evidenced by the minister making no substantive statement on the increase in destination arrivals, which was announced with much fanfare by other tourism officials in the TCI. 

But, in a move seen to help Stubbs-Smith run her ministry, she appointed a new board and also appointed her first cousin Don Gardiner as chairman. This has been met with much grumbling from the tourism industry, as the newly appointed chairman was seen to be complicit in the overspending and largesse of the tourist board during the Michael Misick years, when Gardiner served as the chairman for the majority of the time that the former corrupt PNP government was in office with Misick as premier. 

Stubbs-Smith reportedly left the health ministry in shambles, with an incomplete audit, ineffective management of the primary health care system and dozens of unanswered questions. Many unanswered questions still remain over the nature of the hospital operations. A recent clinical audit has been kept secret from the public by the new health minister, Premier Ewing, himself a medical doctor, and a financial audit has yet to surface. 

Led by opposition leader Sharlene Cartwright Robinson, the House of Assembly passed a motion demanding a thorough investigation into the pre-operating costs, including but not limited to the construction costs and the operation of the contract for the new hospitals. 

On the other hand, a central complaint by Stubbs-Smith and other ministers of the PNP government has been that ministries have been micromanaged by the two senior government leaders – Ewing and finance minister Washington Misick – both widely perceived as joint “presidents” in a government generally expected to carry out the agenda left in place by the British interim administration following the imposition of direct rule from London in 2009. This public sentiment has spilled over into statements in the local press.

 

 

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