I debated whether or not to remain quiet on providing any input on the proposed Petroleum Exploration and Exploitation Bill. However, I think it would be remiss of me if I don’t say anything. I know quite a number of people have already spoken about this bill and I believe the Government has received the message that the residents are against this proposal. However, more of us need to speak out no matter how many people have already spoken.
While it is true that the impact of COVID 19 has emphasize the need to diversify our economy, it does not mean that we should consider anything just to say we are diversifying our economy. Petroleum exploration should not be considered in the Turks and Caicos Islands. The fact that we are considering this bill means we have not consider the impact it will have on our fishing industry, our tourism industry, our environment and our future.
The Fishing Industry is the mainstay of the economy of the South Caicos. It is also a big industry for the island of Providenciales. By giving access to developers to explore for petroleum risks and if they do, any leakage of oil can have a detrimental impact to the fishing industry as the waters can become polluted and impact the fish which will also impact our health. This will also drive away fishermen.
The Turks and Caicos is a small land mass and any leakage will impact the entire ocean surrounding our country. We can learned from Trinidad and Tobago where an oil tanker sank and has created a great concern for the fishermen and residents there.
Whether we want to admit it or not, tourism will continue to be our mainstay of our economy. We bragged about beautiful turquoise waters. We bragged about our coral reefs being one of the largest in the world. Because of these two aforementioned points, we are able to attract guests to our destination.
As I mentioned on Financially Speaking Show, we cannot compare the Turks and Caicos to Trinidad and Guyana. If you want to compare, then compare our waters. Let us focus on enhancing, protecting and developing our brand. We can do so by not giving into the demands of investors to explore for oil. We cannot afford to jeopardize the one industry that has worked for us for years.
The environment should always be at the forefront of any decisions we made. The exploration for Petroleum Oil will upset and disturb our environment. A lot of toxic waste occurs during the exploitation of petroleum
If we were do our research and learn from others, we will conclude the environment benefits far outweigh the economic benefits. Who will benefit economically anyway? A few investors at the expense of our environment.
The decisions we make today will always have an impact on our future. This is why it is important for us to have a national plan in place. A plan that depicts what we want and when we plan to have it. I am quite sure exploration for petroleum will not be part of the plan.
Let us leave a great legacy for our future generation. Let us not destroy the future for our people by accommodating petroleum exploration. You see the majority of the residents have to work in the fishing and tourism industry beyond their retirement age.
While we do need money and we have lost a lot during this year, we do not need to rush and try to please and honour the requests of Oil companies. Many countries are phasing out the use of petroleum and looking for alternatives such as renewal energy. Why then would Turks and Caicos accommodate an exploration and exploitation of Petroleum?