I believe that everybody matters and every business matters but somehow we tend to overlook the average person and small businesses and provide preferential treatment and respect to people with money, titles and large businesses. For this article an average persons is considered to be a person whose income is perceived to be low to median, unpopular and does not have a key position in an organization. A business is considered to be small that has income less that has 500k and has between 5 – 19 employees.
I appreciate the fact that some efforts have been made to help small businesses such as the grants that are available through Invest TCI and the opportunity for the small contractors through the recently announced COVID works program. However, more must be done to ensure that our small businesses grow to large businesses and that the average person does not remain average. If the small business does not grow or the average person remains average, we must still treat them with respect and treat them equally as we treat the wealthy and the large businesses.
One of the main ways the Government of the Turks and Caicos Islands earns money is through the collection of duties on imported items. At one point, there was very little development in the Turks and Caicos and so in order to attract development to the islands, duty concessions were granted to hotel and condo developers. However, we continue to offer duty concessions to these large hotel developers who are selling these condominiums and making significant profits from the sale of condos. It is time we review and decide whether we should continue to offer duty concessions for condo developments. I can understand and appreciate if the projects were hotels only, as hotels may take a longer time to make a return on their investments. Well, many small businesses are struggling and are on the verge of closing their doors. One of the things the Government can do is to grant duty concessions for our small businesses for a limited period of time. Hopefully the savings will be reflected in the pricing of the products and everybody will benefit.
The Crown Land Unit recently announced the plan to cancel land leases that have expired. While I do believe individuals should honour their contractual obligations by paying their leases on an annual basis, we should also aim to help these individuals through a discounted price on the leases and the freehold titles. There is really no incentive for individuals to own these crown land because the price offered is outrageous. Individuals are better off buying a private land than to pay these prices to secure crown land. However, this issue can easily be resolved if the Government can offer at least 50% to 75% discount on the leases and the freehold titles. Large developers are getting leases for 99 years and at reasonable price while the average Joe is faced with large prices at least that is how it appears. If we want to help the average person, then the Government must reduce the rates. It seems that the crown land unit is working independently of our elected officials. It is true that the Crown land is not directly under any of the ministries, however, our Government can pass a policy to reduce the rates on these land leases. They must also ensure that the individuals do not lose their property especially if they have already built on it.
Treat all people with respect and equality
The average person and the small business are not treated with respect primarily because they have little or no money and influence. We have created circles in our society that separate the large businesses from the small businesses and the average person from the wealthy person. We have labelled the large businesses and the wealthy as Very Important People (VIP). However, everyone is important and should be treated equally and with respect. There is a role for everyone and not because you are in higher position or making more money than the average person means you are more important than the average person.
The average persons and the small businesses are very important in any society. The average person normally makes up the majority in a population. Likewise small businesses account for the majority of businesses in a country. Therefore, the average person and the small businesses matter too. Quite frankly, if the average persons and the small businesses were to aggregate, they would realize how powerful and influential they can be.