I would like to commend the TCIG and interim administration for presenting the people of the TCI with the first major development proposal since they took office. After three years of administering the affairs of the TCI, the Government has finally come to the realization that the only sustainable future for the TCI is the continued growth and development of the tourism industry and the diversification of tourism development strategies.
While this effort is stellar, and the project is worthy of exploration, it brings to light one jarring reality; the TCI really has no proper roadmap for sustainable development.
Early in the term of the interim administration, I asked the former Governor to consider formulating an Inward Investment White Paper. In my view, this paper would provide a blue print for the future development of the TCI and with regular adaptation and improvement; this could become the roadmap for a sustainable TCI future.
After three years of attempting to get people to turn out to government meetings in Provo, one meeting drew scores of attendees and filled the bleachers at the Gymnasium. Some were driven by fear, others driven by curiosity but the majority was driven there with the hope of a return to the boom days of mega development in the TCI.
Speaking to many of them I gathered that they didn’t really want to know much about the project, one man told me plain and simple, “I am here looking for work.” This is the quagmire we find ourselves in, embrace work or protect “Beautiful by Nature.” With one twenty eight story development, twenty-nine separate verbal stories start to develop.
The danger of instant policy making in a forum such as a town hall meeting are too numerous to mention in this correspondence. An inward investment policy document on the other hand would provide a realistic guide and eliminate emotional contributions to life changing arguments.
An Inward Investment White Paper signed off by the UK would provide solid reminders for future governments and investors of the longer term goals of the countries natural resources and financial assets, which can easily be forgotten in times of economic exuberance or more presently, economic crisis.
Practically, that White Paper can give future governments a guide, not a prescriptive recipe, on how investments should be managed. Government turnover is inevitable, so a white paper is a common sense way to ensure that procedures, and development agendas remain when governments move on.
I appreciate that the position of the Interim Administration has been over the past three years, that the development of an inward investment policy document should be the prerogative of an elected government. While I agree with this in full, I believe that the damage done by the interim administration, both by neglecting the inward investment component of the TCI economy, and by employing investigation tactics that could only be described as scaremongering, the interim administration and indeed the UK FCO has a moral obligation to provide free of charge the resources and necessary funding to allow the TCI to rebuild its inward investment arm and to develop a workable inward investment policy.
With our past behind us and a bright future ahead, together we can build a better Turks and Caicos Islands.