The Turks and Caicos Islands conducted and concluded the general election on February 19, 2021. Like the United States election, the previous Government did not get an opportunity to serve a second term.
One thing is clear though is that the people have spoken and they are voting differently. Therefore, the politicians should not take the people for granted. If you do not perform they will fired you and give the opposition a chance to lead.
With that said, let me take this opportunity to congratulate the new Government of the Turks and Caicos Islands under the leadership of Hon. Charles Washington Misick. Likewise, let me thank the former administration under the leadership of Hon. Sharlene Cartwright Robinson for their contribution to the country.
This article is to provide some tips on how the politicians should not take people for granted.
Keep in contact with the people
During the campaign, politicians and their supporters were literally in the face of the electorate. Unfortunately, after the elections are over, we do not hear from most of the politicians until the next election. Of course, we will hear them in the House of Assembly with their 2 minute speech.
Politicians need to be in continuous contact with the electorate and this can be done through frequent town hall meetings. In addition, establish a full constituency office in each constituency so that the electorate can meet with you. Finally, follow up with the electorate on a one to one basis. The country is small so you can do this. You did it during the campaign so you should be able to do it after the campaign.
Put the people first
Do not put anyone or any entity before the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands. The people feel neglected and left out of their own country. It is time we address the needs of the people. If we can provide concessions to the developers then we should be able to do the same for the people. Likewise, if we are going to write off penalties for the large businesses, write off penalties for the small businesses as well.
We must ensure that we have a fully functional database of all employees and employers in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Based on the information of the National Audit Skills, no Turks and Caicos Islander should be unemployed. With that said, we must ensure that the qualified Turks and Caicos Islanders are in the key leadership positions in the country. If they are not qualified, then make sure a training and a development plan is in place so that they become qualified.
Listen to the people
Based on my observation, it appears that once politicians are elected, they seem to think they know everything and do not take advice. Please listen to the people. You do not know everything. There are a lot of people who know more than you. Do not just focused on the supporters of your party. Embrace everyone and demonstrate this by appointing individuals of both political persuasions on the Boards.
Review and amend the Procurement Board Ordinance
While the Procurement Ordinance has many benefits, it needs to be reviewed. There should be a limit on how many projects can be given to one company in a given year so that other companies can have the opportunities to benefit as well. In addition, only companies that are based in the Turks and Caicos Islands with a valid business licence should be allowed to bid on jobs. Currently local companies are competing with international companies and sometimes the same suppliers that provide to the local companies.
Review and expand the Micro Small Medium Enterprise Program
While I understand the need for the program is to foster innovation, however it is underutilize. Therefore, expand this program so that other business can benefit and get a grant.
Review the Curfew restrictions
I understand the need to curb COVID 19 but some of the restrictions do not make sense. For example only 6 people are allowed on a boat tour no matter the size. Another example is that restaurants can only do take out but restaurants at the hotels can have dine in. People are suffering and need money to survive. Use a percentage of the capacity for the number of persons to be in a business rather than a whole number. One size does not fit all.
Communicate frequently as possibly with the people even if the issues appear to be insignificant. Communicate with the people at least on a bi-weekly basis.
The results of the elections have demonstrated to me that the people crossed the party lines and rejected the Government based on their perception of the Government. Some people stayed home and did not vote and perhaps they stayed home because they were not happy with either the Government or the Opposition and so rather than giving them a vote, they did not vote. Staying home is also a rejection.
Do not take the people for granted. If you do, you will be fired at the next election.