05 September 2013

Are we about to sell our birthright? - Turks and Caicos Islands

Patti Forbes

Tell me it isn’t so. Having read the coded language of the Minister of Finance that the European Community is giving the TCI some $15 million dollars but that we in the TCI must open up our business licensing procedures completely is troubling. The policy, unwritten unstated and coded, is that we must open the reserve category of business licensing as a free for all. 

Here is the coded language: “The government is already working on the system of business regulation, particularly covering work permits and business licenses. The system must be made workable, transparent and efficient.” I must say, real troubling. 

Now most countries of the world still maintain some form of protectionist legislation and policy to protect its people, despite the mandates of the World Trade Organisation. Why should the TCI be any different? 

It is taken from the coded words of the minister that the reserve category of business licensing, that restricts certain licences for Belongers only must be opened up as a free for all. Ironically, this speech and possible suggestion is coming on the heels of the visit and short stint to the islands of the former economist of the TCI Richard Stoneman

Lest we forget, and lest the Hon C. Washington Misick forgets, Stoneman was one of the authors of the policy in 1991-1995, the PNP government of Washington Misick, to downsize the TCI public service. That caused the PNP to lose the government in 1995 and for them to be in the wilderness for an extended nine years until they found a way to steal the government in 2003. 

They need to remember that not everything is money. What price our people and what price our future? Are we worth $15 million? Is this a Jacob and Esau moment, where we sell out birthright for a "mess of pottage"? If this is a bad rumour, an apology will follow!

Now in 2013 -- some ten years later -- not only will the PNP lose the faith and trust of the TCI people if this measure materialises, it will be also the TCI people who will lose out in the short- and long-term. TCI Belongers, former expats, our Caribbean brothers and sisters who are Turks and Caicos Islanders are now all under threat if this rumoured policy is made law. Our futures will be doomed and our status in the TCI threatened. It seems that every time people drop their guard, give the PNP a chance, the first thing they do is sell the people out. 

One can blame the British for the support of the rip off of the hospital scam and some $3 billion taken from our people over 25 years. One can blame the governor for supporting the unnecessary Conch Farm lawsuit, on personal petty grounds, exposing us to over $100 million in liability and higher taxes. One can blame the British for covering up corruption and the attorney general declaring himself the government of the TCI. Yet one cannot but blame and keep the finger on the PNP for selling the people out for even considering this bad, bad, and highly ridiculous idea. If the minister or the government denies this, an apology will be forth coming. 

The minister of finance had better take note of history and look out for his people. History will be kind to him if he does. This is time to stand up and represent your people. $15 million is a small sum of money to sell our people out for. If we let this economy grow, something which the governor and the AG are preventing, there will be far more the $15 million added to the revenues of the TCI. Let us not be so short sighted. 

If this measure becomes law, no minister, no elected member of parliament should remain silent. It would be time to call for a no-confidence motion in the government and send this issue back to the people. Yes, let the people of the TCI tell the European Union and Richard Stoneman, no. TCI people need a chance to run their economy, their business and their futures. 

This is such a bad, bad, bad idea. It cannot make sense here in the TCI or in any other country. Why would they in the PNP government even consider this? Will you now pass this, make this law, keep your mouths shut, refuse to lift a finger and blame the British for making you do something that you can prevent? 

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