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Your future is whatever you make it. Quote.
Community Articles, Social Issues,

Stop saying there is nothing to do, and the future is bleak in TCI

There are many things you can do and the future for TCI is indeed bright

Introduction

I know many people like to say there is nothing to do and the Turks and Caicos is boring, so they don’t want to live here.  They also claim they want a better education for their children and the cost of private education is high in TCI, so they move overseas. Some also claim that despite the booming economy of the Turks and Caicos, the future is bleak for Turks and Caicos Islanders and so many of the students that graduated with their degrees are not retuning home.

Now I lived on the island of South Caicos from 1970 to 1986 and we did not have all the things we have today in Turks and Caicos, but we found things to keep us preoccupied and it was fun. We played soft ball, marbles, basketball, visiting our grandparents, playing with our neighbours, going to Church and Sunday School every Sunday, watching wrestling, Dallas, Dukes of Hazard, and General Hospital. We even had a movie theater. The future did look bleak around that era as the economy was not doing well so many people continued to migrate to the USA and the Bahamas. However, this is 2022 and I am optimistic about the future for Turks and Caicos and of course for Turks and Caicos Islanders.


Stop saying there is nothing to do – There are many things you can find to do

The Turks and Caicos does not have shopping malls, movie theaters and fast-food restaurants and a lot of people complained about that. Even those that come here to live among us like to compare the amenities and entertainment in their country to the Turks and Caicos Islands. They refer to the place as boring. Honestly, I visit other countries that have all these amenities and entertainment and I still feel bored especially if my family is not with me. I concluded that people like to find excuses as to why they don t like TCI and why they must leave TCI.

I believe even if we had malls or movie theaters, many people may still not go to those places. These places will only make you spend money anyway. You may find visitors go these places more than the residents. Do a survey and ask some of the TCI residents that lived abroad, how often they go to the mall. Furthermore, so many people are busy with their families and work that they may not even have time to frequent these places. The thing is many people are ordering online and even watching movies online so it may not even be feasible for shopping malls and movie theaters.

The Turks and Caicos Islands is surrounded by so many beaches and yet many of us including myself do not go the Beach. Thousands of tourists are flocking to Turks and Caicos just for the beach, but the residents are hardly there. Some residents do not even know how to swim. In addition to the Beach, the Turks and Caicos has the third largest barrier reef in the world and people are coming here to explore the barrier reef and I am told it is such a beautiful scenery. This another reason why swimming should be mandatory in the schools.

The children should not be bored at least on the island of Providenciales where I lived. There are many sports that are available for children to participate in such as soccer, basketball, rugby, and swimming.

There are things you can do in TCI. Find some family and friends and hang out with them and enjoy life and stop complaining about nothing to do in TCI. For example, my family and I bought the day passes at Beaches and enjoy our time there. Now if it is too expensive for you, hop on the ferry and go to Mudjin Harbour in Middle Caicos, my favourite scenery in TCI.

The future is not bleak – the Future is bright

I know improvement is needed in our educational system and the cost for private education can be very costly in TCI and so some families have left the TCI. Of course, it is a personal choice, but thousands of individuals have gone through our educational system and are doing well. I have received both my primary and secondary education on the island of South Caicos and my future is bright. I recently interviewed Jenna Hatmin who did her education right here in Turks and Caicos and got accepted into Harvard University. Now I understand that some parents must relocate especially if their children have special needs. I also think we should all embrace the opportunity to enroll in a UK university and college given that we can get the local rates, but you do not necessarily have to go to High School there.

The future of TCI is bright.  The Turks and Caicos is attracting many immigrants, but many Turks and Caicos Islanders are migrating. Some complained they are being marginalized and it is true to a certain extent. However, it does not mean you should leave TCI. It is time for more of us to be entrepreneurs. The opportunities are here. We must take the risks and start our businesses. Embrace the opportunities from Invest TCI. Do not front for others so they can get a business licence. Do it yourself. While some of us are complaining about nothing to do, then develop businesses that will give people something to do.

Conclusion

Many of us are complaining about foreigners taking over but if many of us are migrating to the UK and USA, then what do we expect. Remember less than one third of the population is Turks and Caicos Islanders.

I conclude with the words of JF Kennedy, “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”

Many non-citizens see the opportunities in this country and are taking advantage of them. Why don’t you do the same? We don’t need to rely on Government, the laws are already in place. Be the change that you want to take place.

Name Card Handover
Community Articles, Social Issues,

Too many unnecessary documentations to prove your identity and status.

Make things simple by being paperless and providing appropriate access

Introduction

Many people particularly the young people that have been living in the Turks and Caicos for more than a year were denied the $500 stimulus and the reason being they do not meet the residency requirement. There were also some young people with Turks and Caicos Islander Status who could not apply for an opportunity to get a grant or scholarship from the Government because they misplaced their status card, or their status card had to be notarized. These are just two examples and of course there are many examples in other Government Departments in which individuals must supply so much paperwork to prove their status.

I know this Government and successive governments have been talking about E Government for quite some time now and I know this will not happen overnight, but many opportunities are lost due to all the documentation that is required.  Some Government departments even lost your paperwork, and you must resubmit the documents.

In the private sector, the issue continues.  You can be an existing customer and applying for new services but that same company will ask you to supply the same documents such as your passport or drivers’ licence that they have already have on file. I can understand if the documents on file have expired but if the documents are still valid, why do you have to go through this same process.

When I was a student in the USA, I applied for and received a social security number. I lost my card, but I memorized my number and anytime I had to complete an application, that institution didn’t ask me for a copy of social security number, I simply wrote my number on the relevant forms. We need to make things simple in the Turks and Caicos.

Make things simple

I believe that every resident in the Turks and Caicos should be identified by a national identity number. The citizens can be identified by their Turks and Caicos Status number. The work permit holder can be identified by their work permit number. Better yet, everyone can be identified by their NHIB or NIB number.  The relevant individual in each government department or statutory body should be able to access information about an individual. Of course, we must have the relevant controls in place to ensure that no fraudulent activities take place.

When individuals apply for a stimulus, the Finance Department should be able to verify the status of that individual by simply typing in that number.  When an individual applies for a scholarship, the Scholarship Board should be easily be able to verify the status of that individual by typing in the identification number of that individual. When an individual is stopped on a road by an immigration officer or police office, if that individual does not have that national identity card on them, the police should be able to run a trace on them by simply typing in that number. When a work permit is up for renewal, that labour department should be able to determine if that individual NHIB or NIB is current by simply accessing their national identity number.

The private sector particularly those large companies should maintain a register of all their clients and that register should have all the pertinent information including documentation on their clients so when an existing customer applies for a new service, there is no need to provide documentation, and this will make the process simple.

Conclusion

I know having paperless information for everyone and being able to have all departments connect and communicate with each other can be costly. However, it is worth it and will expedite the provision of services.

It is very frustrating when you know you are entitled to certain services and benefits, but you are denied because you simply cannot prove who you are or by the time you are able to prove your status, the deadline has passed.

I am aware that the Government has mentioned about the introduction of a national identity that will replace all these different cards we have in our possession. I am unsure of the status of this project as this Government has already been in power for almost eighteen months and no updates have been communicated to the public about the status of this project. Therefore, I wrote this article to remind the Government of this promise that was made and to highlight the level of bureaucracy that so many of us encounter daily in this country.

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Community Articles, Social Issues,

A letter to Lord Cashman in response to the private members’ bill

Please do not impose a bill on the overseas territories that is contrary to our beliefs

Dear Lord Cashman:

My name is Drexwell Seymour, and I know you don’t know me, but you can google me if you want to know more about me. You will see that I am a community activist and will not be quiet on issues pertaining to my beloved Turks and Caicos. However, this letter is not about me, but it is about the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands in respect of the private members’ bill that you introduced in the UK’s House of Lords to make same sex marriage legal in the British Overseas Territories.

In your release, you indicated that is wrong that same sex couples can marry in the UK but are not allowed to marry in the Overseas Territories. Maybe most of the people in the UK has accepted this but not in the overseas territories. With all due respect sir, I think what is wrong, is that the UK wants to impose a law on the overseas territories that the overseas territories do not want. I can assure you that the people of the Turks and Caicos do not want this law and I will reiterate it is wrong for someone to dictate to other countries what they should do especially if those other countries are not providing any type of financial support to them. I am quite sure there are other laws in the UK that are not laws in the overseas territories and so why would you singled this law out for the overseas territories.

Another thing I think is wrong, is when a cofounder of the British LGBTQ uses his influences and beliefs to pass a private motion in the House of the Lords. In the Turks and Caicos Islands, our influences and beliefs are grounded on the word of God that identifies marriage between opposite sex which is a man and woman. I believe that our beliefs should be respected by not passing such a law to marry same sex couples.

Sir, you also indicated that the bill has wide support among all those that who favour equality over discrimination and are committed to upholding fundamental human rights.”  This bill may have wide support among individuals in the UK but not in the Overseas territories. Putting a bill to marry same sex couples will not end discrimination. Don’t you think by forcing a bill like this on the overseas territories, you are also violating our fundamental human rights. What about our rights? Why should we accept a bill that is contrary to our beliefs? Why should we accept a bill from the UK? Aren’t these violations of our human rights?

If this bill is passed in the UK Parliament, it will add a further insult and violation of the constitution of the Turks and Caicos Islands. In part 1 of our Constitution, section 10, subsection 1 states that “Every unmarried man and woman of marriageable age, has the right to marry a person of the opposite sex and found a family.” Subsection 3 further stated that “Nothing in any law or done under its authority shall be held to contravene subsection (1) to the extent that is reasonably justifiable in a democratic society.” I don’t think your private motion is justifiable in in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Sir, if you really want to help the fundamental rights of the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands, then pass a private motion for a better Constitution for Turks and Caicos by giving the elected parliamentarians more rights and freedom in administering the political affairs of the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Finally, same sex attraction has been around from biblical days, but we do not see anywhere in the Bible where same sex marriage is recognized. I believe we must be very careful in how we deal with the emotions of individuals. Sooner or later, you will find adults that are attracted to animals and young children may want to marry them citing their fundamental rights to do so. Would you pass a private members’ bill to allow such marriage to take place?

I cannot speak for the other overseas territories, but most of the people of the Turks and Caicos will not accept a law to marry same sex couples. We will seek independence from the UK before we agree to such a bill.

Thank you for taking the time to read my letter and I do hope you take it seriously by withdrawing your private members’ bill.

cdb picture
Community Articles, Social Issues,

The Pros and Cons of the CDB Conference in the Turks and Caicos Islands – The success of the conference should be measured by the actions taken.

Introduction

From June 1st to June 16th, The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) held its 52nd annual Board of Governors meeting attracting over 200 delegates. I think the CDB has an excellent potential to be an institutional force in the world to be reckoned with especially if they can unite the Caribbean region and resolve the many issues facing our region.

While I appreciate the contribution from the CDB over the many years it has been in existence and the fact that the conference was held in the Turks and Caicos, I cannot be silent and don’t say anything about my observations of the Conference. This is by no means a reflection of CDB but rather the Turks and Caicos Islands Government

The Pros

The African Connection

When the Prime Minster, Mia Motley signed several agreements with some African countries, I must admit I couldn’t comprehend the logic at that time but after listening to Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, the President of the African Development Bank (ADB), I think the Caribbean should connect with Africa on a commercial basis. I do hope that the Turks and Caicos Islands use this opportunity to expand our Agribusiness in the Turks and Caicos Islands. It was such a pleasure listening to Dr. Adesina on how he was able to transform not only the economy of Nigeria but also transform the mindset of the people of Nigeria. He can guide and help us in the Caribbean to do the same. I know that the distance between Africa and the Caribbean is an obstacle in bridging the gap but with the advancement of technology, we can overcome the distance factor.

Networking

The Conference provided a great opportunity for networking and to share best practices among Caribbean countries and visiting countries rather than reinventing the wheel for something that is already been done and tested elsewhere. I think it is time we integrate as one Caribbean region and to see how we can help one another.

The Youth Forum

I think our young people are very creative and innovative and have a lot to offer and they should not be taken for granted so I do like the fact that there was youth forum element as part of the Conference.

Food security

With all that is happening with the supply chain crisis, I think having food security on the agenda of the Conference was a proactive initiative. Food shortage is already taking place and we cannot survive without food. Hopefully some realistic solutions came out of that session.

Show case TCI

This Conference was a great opportunity to showcase our beautiful by nature country, people, culture, and food. Sometimes people look at the small size of our country and think we are small in mindset too, but I believe after this conference, we will not be judged by our size.

The Cons

The Invitation List

I don’t know who determines who get invited to these events. Of course, I am excluding the delegates.  However, when an event like this happens in any country, we should ensure that we capitalize on this opportunity by inviting people who will benefit and contribute significantly to the issues that are being addressed.

This event should not be just about social gathering, a make you feel good event or a photoshoot event, but the event is to address serious issues and to develop solutions affecting us and the Caribbean. I was taken aback when I see some of the individuals who were invited to the events and some of the individuals who were not invited. Are we serious about wanting a change? If we want a change, then we need to change the way we do things in this country. Yes, I am one of those persons who were not invited except for one event and quite frankly it only happened because out of curiosity, I asked one of the civil servants why I was not invited and then I got an invitation. Now this is not about me, but I wanted to be transparent as there are many other people who should have been there and some people who were there should not have been there. We need the right people in the audience at these events and we need people there that really care and will walk away with a plan to make a difference. Of course, these events can be viewed online but being in person and connecting and interacting with the relevant individuals is more impactful.

The Cost

I know having an event of this magnitude is costly. However, it alleged that this event cost the taxpayers more than one million dollars. Since this is our money, I challenge the Government to provide the public with a breakdown of the alleged one million dollars expenditure. Somehow, it appears when it comes to Government, some vendors tend to overprice their products and services and so we don’t get value for our money.

I don’t know if this includes accommodation costs at the hotels, but I would think that the delegates except for the special guests are responsible for their own room costs.

I also know that there are limited conference and dining facilities in the islands but whatever we do, we should spread the wealth around to multiple places rather than using one or two places. This is by no means an indictment on the vendors as it not their fault if they were selected to be used.

Another observation is the presence of multiple VIP transportation services at these events and we the people of the Turks and Caicos would like to know how much we paid for transportation services. Did we use taxi services? Was it a requirement by CDB to provide VIP transportation services when these events were held in other countries? Do we get VIP transportation services when we travel abroad to functions?

Conclusion

I hope this conference was not just another talking conference where the right words are being spoken but no action takes place.  Somehow though, I am optimistic that something positive will come out of this Conference. We have already seen an agreement was signed between CDB and ADB.

However, I cannot say the Conference was a success yet, but I can say the Conference covered pertinent and relevant topics and some powerful decision makers were present. However, within a year, I will determine if the conference was a success by the actions that were implemented.

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