“Find out where the people are going and buy the land before they get there” – William Penn Adair
I believe all of us want a better life. The poor does not want to remain poor. The poor wants a better life. The rich wants to stay rich or get richer. One way to improve your life is through land ownership. John Rockefeller said that “the major fortunes in America have been in land.”
Some of you may argue that land is not affordable. Do you know that land is a scarce resource? If you are in a position to acquire land then by all means to do so. There are some non-citizens who are empowering themselves by squatting on our land and developing the land for business and for personal use.
In the field of accounting, land is one fixed asset that does not depreciate. All other assets are expected to depreciate. This alone shows the value that is placed on land.
This article will show the importance of land and how it empowered people in Biblical times, in USA, the loyalists and the international developers in TCI.
The Promised Land
In the Biblical times, land was very important. From the inception, God commanded Adam and Eve to work the land. However, they were kicked out due to their disobedience. Later on, Abraham came into existence and God promised him and his descendants a land full of milk and honey.
Empowerment in USA.
According to John Rockefeller “Major fortunes in America have been in land”. Many Americans have built their fortune through the ownership of land. They used the land to develop apartment buildings, housing complex, office buildings, Disney World and for oil. Examples of these Americans who became empowered through land are John Rockefeller, Donald Bren, Stephen Ross, Ted Lerner and Thomas Mellon
Like the USA, the rest of us can also become empowered through land ownership.
The Loyalists were empowered through land ownership in TCI
After the American Revolutionary War, The United Kingdom provided sizeable crown lands to loyalists who supported the King. “Each head of family received 40 acres … as well as 20 acres for each man, woman and child in a family.’(Turks Islands Landfall)
Wade Stubbs had over 8,000 acres of land in the Caicos Islands including Wades Green Plantation and Cheshire Hall. Stubbs developed a successful cotton industry. It is reported that the output from this industry accounted for more than 50% of the entire Bahamas.
International Developers were empowered through land ownership in TCI
One of the first developers to Providenciales was Fritz Ludington. In the 1960s, his company, Provident Limited was able to secure 4000 acres of land on the island of Providenciales in exchange for an airstrip, air terminal, and a small hotel. This land deal was not only the beginning of the transformation of Providenciales but also the empowerment of this developer.
Other developers became empowered through land ownership too. Some were purchased from private citizens and some were purchased from the crown at unbelievable affordable rates. The developers were able to develop the land by building condominiums and of course resell these condos to individuals thus empowering themselves and changing the landscape of the Turks and Caicos particularly Providenciales.
Empowering locals through land Ownership
Some locals were also empowered through land. Some were given opportunity to own beach front land on North Caicos, Northwest Point, and water front land on Chalk Sound, water front land on West Caicos and land in Long Bay.
Unfortunately, some locals sold their land after getting freehold title and due to lack of financial intelligence, financial management and to a certain extent greed, they do not have anything to show for the land they once owned.
Thankfully, some locals retained their land and have developed some of their land and are earning income from it. Like the Americans, we can used your land to start a hotel project, housing project, apartment complex, agricultural project and other business initiatives.
Land is the key for empowering and allowing our locals to participate in this economy. Land can also be used as collateral to secure financing for your business ideas.
I know that some of us rely on the Government to grant us crown land, however, we can do our part as well by investing in private land. Rather than getting a loan for a vehicle or a big home, use those funds and invest in land. If you are unable to afford purchasing a private plot of land, then join up with others and form a company and purchase the land jointly.
The Government can also help with crown land by making land ownership affordable by reducing the cost of the lease and freehold titles. At the moment, I think the freehold titles have been discontinued but they should be revisited.
The Way forward
The current distribution of land is antiquated and needs to be revisited as quickly as possible. Currently residential land applications are put in bag and tossed and then the awarded to the individual that was chosen from the bag. This process needs to end.
Each citizen should be entitled to at least one piece of residential land whether you’re married or not. So a husband should have a plot of land and a wife should have a plot of land. I also believe that multiple crown land should be given to individuals if they have evidence they can develop the land. I don’t believe that commercial land should be given to people just to sit on for speculation.
If the Government does not want to give individuals land, then the Government should ensure that they partnered with local developers and contractors to build a housing project where locals can purchased the homes. These locals can then sell or rent the homes so that we can end the development of shanty towns. As my friend Gilbert Morris would say “Shanty towns are the fastest growing thing in TCI”
I encourage individuals to keep their land. Please do not sell your land. Buy more land.
It is a major challenge for locals to participate in growing economy if they do not own land. Furthermore it is a challenge to own land because of the lengthy process and the price of the land. However, as you can see from this article, from the beginning of slavery, the landowners were empowered through landownership and the current developments are also empowered. Therefore we need to ensure that an avenue is created for others to become owners of land and develop them so they too can become empowered and reduce the wealth inequality that exists in TCI.