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Commentary: The fiscal cliff
Published on September 18, 2012 Email To Friend    Print Version

By David Tapfer

No foreign power has put the TCI in the serious financial condition we are in today, not even the British. The Brits, however, prolonged our fall over our own fiscal cliff. Had we gone over the cliff, the British State Department (FCO) would have been embarrassed by their obvious lack of oversight.

We need to be embarrassed for our lack of foresight!

tapfer.jpg
David Tapfer is a retired, US-born engineer and management executive. He is the former chairman of the Middle Caicos Branch of the Peoples Democratic Movement
Since we had a zero credit rating after making those massive loans in 2004-2005, the British had to guarantee the $260 million bailout loan. We have been bankrupt since late 2005. We sold land to keep the wolves from the door, as someone hid millions in bills in government drawers. An unsustainable solution, of course.

It was not interference from outside that caused the problems that now cost us dearly. It was clearly the last elected administration. We elected them and we are living with their legacy. Their leader has escaped to another country and his relatives and associates, those not yet in court, are running again for election.

Right now the focus is on the election and its campaign promises. Let us refocus on the longer term, the legacy of debt now piled on the backs of the children of this country!

TC Islanders, their children and residents will long be paying down the massive mortgage on the hospitals. By the year 2034 when we pay off the fat mortgage on these two buildings, the cost to our people and children will be $450 million in principal and interest. Hundreds of millions more will be spent on this thing we call the National Health Insurance Plan (NHIP).

NHIP is costing $60 million per year. In the next 20 years this will amount to $1,200 million, a cool 1.2 billion dollars! We have already spent at least $140 million. How then can we afford new schools, teachers, education and scholarships? If we had not gone down the NHIP road, the extra $75 million we invested in the last two years could have built schools and educated our people to serve as teachers.

Right now it appears the tax rates must rise higher to meet budget demands and the ordinary cost of running the government … enter the VAT!

Is the problem solvable? Yes it is... but it will take courage! Courage first and foremost to cancel NHIP. With NHIP gone and the hospital construction audited we can get our finances under control.

There is 3.9 trillion dollars in private capital waiting in the USA to invest somewhere. Until we show responsibility in controlling our expenses and replacing recklessness with responsible government you will not see development return. The interim folks can dream about their 30-plus projects but we have not seen new ground broken or anything new finished and operating in years.

Must we prostitute our Beautiful by Nature ethic to 28 stories? Once this happens we will have to compete with mainland high rise opportunities. That cannot and will not work in the long term.

I submit we have already slipped over the fiscal cliff edge and are hanging by the rope called draconian taxes.

Who will have the nerve to straighten out health care costs and pull the country and its children back to the top of the cliff where we and they can look out and see TCI's promising future?
 
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