The leaked supplemental Carnival Agreement has created mixed reaction among the public. This article will focused on the lessons we can learned from the leaked Supplementary Carnival Agreement.
The Agreement is not confidential
First of all, the agreement between Carnival and the Turks and Caicos Islands Government is not confidential. However, it is traditional for these types of agreement not to be in the public domain. Does it mean it is right? Many have argued that the Government is not a private organization and the people have a right to know the contents of an agreement that the Government signs on behalf of the country which leads to the next point.
Government should be upfront
While the Government may not want the agreement to be in the public domain for whatever reasons, the Government should be upfront with the people about the main contents of any agreement. The Supplementary agreement was leaked and as a result, there was a lot of interpretations or misinterpretations of the agreement. All of these interpretations or misinterpretations could have been avoided had the Government informed the people from Day one about what was in the agreement. The truth is if the Government were in Opposition, they would have demanded that the people know about the agreement and if the Opposition were the Government, they may have done the same thing as the Current Government. Therefore, the best thing to do is to be upfront with the people. Explain to the people also why the agreement is not in the public domain especially if the agreement is not confidential.
The Beach Vendor Bill
While I do support the Beach Vendor Bill with the exception of certain elements which were expressed in my article written a few weeks ago, it is cleared that the Agreement required legislation to control illegal and disorderly behaviour and activities on the Beach. However, the Government denied this in the House of Assembly during the debate.
Pier Expansion linked to the Passenger fees
It was not until the agreement was leaked that it was revealed that the $25million expansion of the pier would be recouped from the passenger fees. Was this necessary? Does the Government have a cash flow issue? If not, could the Government not draw down on the loan facility to expand the pier themselves? Are we getting value for our money? If the projection is for 1 million visitors annually and each visitor is required to pay $16, that alone is $16million in one year.
Public Private Agreement
While I believe there are many benefits for a Public Private Agreement especially on those islands where there is limited development and infrastructure, we have to be very careful when it comes to our port facilities on the islands of Grand Turk and Providenciales where tourism is expected to grow. If the Government is in a position to borrow money to build a new airport or a port, then the Government should do it without a public private agreement. I have no objection to the Government outsourcing the management of the facility but the facility should be maintained and owned by the Government especially if the Government does not have a cash flow issue.
I don’t know how the agreement was leaked out but I know there are many lessons we can learned from this leaked document.