To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress has been made in stabilising the economy of the Turks and Caicos Islands since direct rule was imposed; and what are their forecasts for the islands' budget and balance of trade for the current and next financial years. [HL1266]
In his first quarterly statement published on 21 November 2009 (turksandcaicosislands.fco.gov.uk/resources/en/pdf/nov-statement) the governor outlined a number of actions that the interim Government have taken to stabilise the economy of the Turks and Caicos Islands. This includes completing a review of Turks and Caicos Islands’ Government financial management practices; steps to implement a wide-ranging stabilisation plan; completing the 2009-10 budget; robust measures to significantly reduce expenditure and bring it closer into line with revenue; and placing high priority on monitoring and strict enforcement of the payment of dues and taxes. Since the statement, a consultation and review of the existing revenue system has been completed, and negotiations with banks near conclusion to refinance liabilities inherited from the previous Administration.
The revised budget figures for 2009-10 are US$142 million for revenues and US$163 million for expenditure. The 2010-11 budget is still in preparation, however, and this deficit is likely to increase during the next fiscal year due to the ongoing impact of the global credit crunch. This means that the Turks and Caicos Islands’ economy still faces significant challenges. Work is in hand to explore solutions.
The latest trade figures are from 2008 and these show imports at US$591 million and exports at US$24.8 million.
Salt Cay has a population of 100, and employment opportunities on the island are limited.
US$150,000 of funds provided by the UK Government for disaster assistance following Hurricane Ike in 2008 have been allocated by the Turks and Caicos Islands Disaster Recovery Board to two projects on the island. A further US$500,000 has been earmarked for another project. Together, these may provide some general, manual employment opportunities.