The minister for finance, investment and trade, Washington Misick, has announced a major programme of reform that aims to transform the business environment in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
The reforms have been agreed with the European Union through its 10th European Development Fund (EDF). The funding available amounts to $15 million in budget support, but will only be paid if some tough conditions are met.
Finance Minister Washington Misick
The finance minister believes that the key to the programme’s success is “the development of a long-term partnership with the private sector”.
Such a partnership can bring about “a win-win situation”, he noted, “to spearhead investment, growth, new business opportunities, and more and better jobs. The government is already working on the system of business regulation, particularly covering work permits and business licences. The system must be made workable, transparent and efficient.”
The finance minister added, “But the private sector also has a key responsibility in the modernisation of the economy through helping to develop and operate practical schemes to provide more small business opportunities and better career opportunities for Turks and Caicos Islanders.”
Whether it be small business lending, angel investing (where established businesses and business people support and invest in new and growing businesses), or business mentoring, the finance minister believes that the private sector’s role is crucial. Private sector provision of apprenticeships, internships, and professional development programmes, as well as practical help with improving vocational training, are amongst the initiatives that can have a significant impact on improving career prospects for Turks and Caicos Islanders.
In the minister’s view, the private sector often has far more expertise to offer in these areas than government.
“In current circumstances,” Misick noted, “where government is strapped for cash – and where, contrary to some reports, we cannot invest European Development Fund resources in numerous new initiatives -- the private sector’s role becomes even more crucial.”
The minister emphasised that the establishment of a far-sighted public-private sector partnership over the next few months would demonstrate that the Turks and Caicos Islands are “open for business.” The government wants to create the “best business environment in the Caribbean” and be able to take advantage of the nascent recovery in the North American and European economies.
Misick concluded that if this can all be achieved quickly – and with the arrangements being put in place, it certainly can -- there are good reasons for optimism all round for the first time for several years.