The Progressive National Party (PNP) headquarters in Providenciales
The Progressive National Party (PNP) will reportedly pay $3.2 million to regain possession of its headquarters in Providenciales, from which it was evicted following legal action by the TCI government in July 2013.
Some $300,000 has to be paid in back rent and a new 99-year lease obligates the party to $2.9 million dollars in future payments.
Party leader, Premier Rufus Ewing has come in for major criticism following this revelation.
Jonathan Gardiner, a vocal commentator on local issues, commented in one blog, “Wait a minute, are you serious? A 99-year lease and $30,000 per annum in rent. If this is true I agree with you all 1,000 percent that they should have started fresh and walked away from that deal. “
The PNP is supposed to have a cleaning day at the building for the second day of activities of a hastily called convention designed to keep Ewing as party leader.
Delegates at the convention have not been told about the details except by leaks from within the government. A fundraiser to help fund the PNP and pay for things like the building repossession is set up for later on Saturday in the second day of convention.
The opposition Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) pointed out that the PNP is celebrating its accomplishment while TCIslanders have suffered under crippling taxes imposed on them by Ewing and finance minister Washington Misick.
A poster erected in front of PDM headquarters makes just this point.
“We remain concerned at the level of suffering our people have endured over the last three-and-a-half years. Some relief has to be provided to help our struggling people to overcome these current difficulties,” said PDM chairman, Doug Parnell.
“PNP can celebrate over their headquarters all they like, that is not our concern; but our concern is for our people. We will celebrate when they start to feel victorious,” he added.
The repossession of the PNP headquarters has still left some questions unanswered, including:
1. After Judge Ramsay Hale ruled in 2013 that the PNP, as an unincorporated association, has no legal personality, has the PNP since been incorporated or otherwise established as a legal entity in order to take possession and control of the property? If not, which entity or individuals will take such possession or control?
2. Where is the money coming from to pay for the back rent and future payments, given that the TCI has some of the strictest political financing laws in the region?
Thirty thousand dollars is reportedly due by next week in order for the headquarters deal to be officially completed, but an effort to raise this money on Friday evening failed. Ewing wrote a cheque for $5,000, followed by party treasurer Gordon Burton who wrote a cheque for $2,500 but no other delegate contributed.
“Maybe tomorrow you will all want to pitch in after you see feel how good it is to be back home,” Ewing remarked, asking supporters to come and pay for food and drinks and make donations to complete the transaction.
However, this apparent attempt at a guilt trip fell on deaf ears as not a single person offered a pledge.