The interim administration published a Green Paper on Monday, which it said represented the beginning of building a new economic development strategy for the Turks and Caicos Islands.
The paper is intended to kick off an important public consultation on the future economic development strategy for the TCI. It was drafted by the SPPU team in the Ministry of Finance, led by interim TCIG chief economist Stephen Pollard, previously a senior executive of the Asian Development Bank with extensive experience of island economies.
“The Green Paper recognises that the TCI has real potential for economic growth,” said Governor Ric Todd. “It also recognises too that in order to achieve and maximise this growth the way that things have traditionally been done here may need to change; these issues require public debate.”
“As I have said publicly many times the TCI now has a great value proposition: it speaks English; is stable, safe and friendly; uses the US dollar; has a growing economy; has many top class businesses; and is a relatively short flight away from the North and South American markets. As a result, the economy here is very good at tourism. What can we do not only to build on this success but also to encourage the growth of other industries, agriculture or financial services to name but two?
“While the economy is certainly in much better shape now that it was when the interim administration took over in 2009, I recognise that not everyone on the islands may not feel or be benefitting from these improvements. That is why it is important to begin a thoughtful stock-take of what economic policy direction the people of the islands want to take in the future. The question is, while we are doing significantly better now, what are the things that are holding the economy back?
“The draft strategy recognises that there is probably too much bureaucracy in the TCI and that this hinders business development. Do we require so many regulations, restrictions, permits and licences? One of the advantages of VAT in that it will replace six different sets of tax legislation and reduce customs duties, making that aspect of the system easier to comprehend, for example.
“Similarly, what is the best course of action in relation to work permits and immigration? How can we balance the encouragement and protection of employment rights and opportunities for TCIslanders with the probable opportunity cost to be paid in terms of overall growth of the economy?”
The Green Paper also makes the case for the government improving its collection and use of national statistics such as population, census, household income and expenditure statistics. It was reviewed by the Advisory Council on 22 June 2012 and is now being released to the public for general review and consultation. Meetings are being planned with businesses groups such as the Chamber of Commerce and other as well as both political parties. Based on the views and priorities of the public the provisional strategy will be further revised and submitted to the Consultative Forum on 10 July. The provisional strategy will then be further revised and resubmitted to the Advisory Council at its meeting on 18 July.