Every four years, we go to the polls and select a government. I am not sure how serious we take this because after the results are announced and the government is sworn in, most of us go quiet and do not hold our politicians accountable. The only time some of us open our mouths is when someone says something about the government that we do not like.
During the election campaigns, our focus appears to be on rallies, the speeches and the mudslinging. During the governing process, we seem to be too focused on party rather than country. Because we are so focused on party, we do not hold our government accountable. It is time we change our focus and ensure that the Government that we elected does what it should do.
What is it that You want the Government to do?
Appointment of Boards?
Are you just interested in being on a high paying Board? Some politicians know that in order to satisfy you, all they have to do is put you on a Board and you feel good that you were selected by the government to be on a Board. Some of us like the prestige and others like the pay. I wonder how you would feel if the Board was a non-paying Board. People should be appointed on Boards that will contribute and make a significant difference. If you going to be on a Board and just stay quiet, then what is the purpose of being on a Board.
I see politicians and supporters on both sides fighting over the roadworks. Isn’t it the basic responsibility of a government to ensure the roadworks are in the budget yearly? You do not have to vote for a party to fix the roads. In fact, the Ministry of Works, should review all roadworks throughout the islands and present a proposal in phased approach so that the Government can incorporate it in their budgets.
I used to be gullible too. Roadworks should not be a reason to vote for a politician. You do not need a politician to fix the roads. The repairs of roadworks should be part of a master plan and no matter who wins, the plan should continue.
Just Talk What You Want to Hear?
Some politicians are very gifted when it comes to talking. Are you just happy with politicians talking but no actions? When politicians give a great speech, we get excited but nothing of significance is being done. Is this what you want? You must hold politicians accountable. Enough of the talk. Politicians must act and stop making excuses. Getting things done is the premise on which leadership is all about.
Signing Development Agreements?
Governments like to brag about how much development they attract to the islands while serving in Government. If the truth be told, they attract little or no investment at all. It is by coincidence they are in power when the development agreements are signed as most time the developers have already bought the property through a real estate agent without the politicians even knowing. Furthermore, we can have all the development in the World, if the citizens are not better off, then why brag about these agreements?
What Should the Role of Government be?
If we are going to elect politicians who cannot do anything, then why have politicians. If we are going to have politicians just act like administrators, then why do we have politicians.
Politicians should play a very important part in the running of a country and that is why I believe we need to change our current process. As mentioned in a previous article, we need to eliminate the political parties and the constituency representatives. I think all of us need to go to the polls and elect a premier selected from a group of people. Then we need to elect the five ministers and they should only be run based on pre-determined criteria. We should have someone running for minister of Finance, someone running for Minister of Education, someone running for Minister of Health, someone running for Minister of Works. Who is elected will be working from a National Country Policy that is approved by the People of TCI.
With that said, I believe the Role of Government towards its citizens should cover three main areas: Health, Safety and Empowerment.
Improve Health Care
I know as citizens we have a responsibility to live a healthy life by the food we consume and our lifestyle such as exercising and getting bi annual checks up. However, the Government also has a responsibility to ensure that the citizens are living healthy as well by improving health care. The doctors have diagnosed too many people in this country with illnesses. Furthermore, too many people are dying.
We need an aggressive program on healthy living throughout the year. We cannot afford to lose more people to death as there only a few of us anyway. We need to increase the duties on these “bad food” so that it can be expensive and not attractive to eat. Reduce the duties on the “good food” so that it can be affordable by the people.
We have two hospitals in TCI, one is overutilized and the other is underutilized. Perhaps we can use the one that is underutilized as a research center to investigate these high cancer cases in TCI.
We need to take advantage of the five slots that are available free of charge in the UK.
We need to change the menus in our schools so that healthy eating can be promoted.
We need to utilize our dietitians and have them go to the schools, the workplace and homes to promote healthy living.
We need to review and understand why so many persons have to go abroad for treatment. We are spending millions of dollars abroad when we can spend it locally. Perhaps we can use the Grand Turk Hospital as a specialized center similar to Health City in Cayman so we don’t have send people abroad.
Make the residents and tourists feel safe
There are too many crimes taking place in this country that are being unresolved. Residents no longer feel safe. I think it is the responsibility of Government to ensure that the residents are protected from these criminals. I believe the Police Department knows what it needs to solve the crimes but it requires a significant investment in resources. Government can meet the needs by increasing the budget so that crimes can be solved in this country. I know the budget is around $23m to $25million a year and of that about $15million is on payroll costs. Well we need more experienced officers on the ground.
Also, there are too many illegals entering our island and as a result we do not know who is who in this country. Our borders need to be protected from the entrance of illegals. This too requires a lot of resources. Why do we brag about surpluses when the criminals and the illegals are on the loose in this country threatening our “bread and butter”?
Empower Your Citizens
No citizen should feel like an outsider in his/her own country. Our Government must ensure that investment in our citizens are priority. For instance, there are many positions that are vacant in the statutory bodies. If your citizen is not qualified for the job, then ensure they understudy the current postholder so that when the time is right, they can assume the post. Invest in a massive upgrade to our community college so that we can have access to more areas at the tertiary level.
Promote entrepreneurship among your citizens by offering concessions similar to what is given to the international investors. Review the policy with Invest TCI in terms of the $10,000 grant.
I think the Invest TCI grants are a great initiative but it needs to be reviewed and enhanced.
Rather than building a fourth primary school to accommodate work permit holders, build a technical school so our people can be trained in their desired fields.
Our citizens need access to financing. It is very challenging now so we need to encourage and promote other institutions to the islands.
I hope one day the majority of us open our eyes and move away from partisan politics. This is the only way we can ensure that we hold our politicians accountable.
Why do we vote for politicians every four years if they are unable to carry out their roles? I know the constitution is a challenge for the Government to operate effectively. However, I believe if the Government presents a sound plan to cabinet and the non-elected members of cabinet reject the plan, then somehow this needs to be exposed.
What is going to happen if the UK does not approve the proposed constitutional amendments? Do we just continue to go the polls and do like what we have been doing in the past?