The Turks and Caicos Islands, like most countries have been closed since March and while some businesses have been allowed to open, there are many other businesses that remained closed. How are these employers and employees expected to survive? “He who feels it knows it more.”
While the health of a nation must always be a priority for a country, but given that the only industry is tourism, there must be a balance between the economy and health otherwise we will face multiple issues in our country. We do not know if tourists will come to the islands if we open, however, we will not know if we do not try. Other countries in the Caribbean have set a tentative date for the opening of their international flights allowing visitors to plan their trips. Where do you think those tourists will go?
I know many people are saying do not open yet due to the fear of an outbreak of the virus. However, this fear can be eliminated if we implement the proper protocols in place. There are perhaps many other unknown cases in our country too, but we don’t know if people have not been tested. Do you notice that most people who are advocating for the delay of the opening of the international flights are persons who are getting their full-time salary monthly?
Yes, the Government runs the country but in a crisis state like this, everybody needs to get involve in the development of a recovery plan. The Government does not know everything and cannot do everything. This recovery plan requires collaboration and empathy.
First, let me take this opportunity to commend those companies in the private sector who continue to provide some sort of compensation to the employees even though they are not getting any income. This act alone is one of empathy. Unfortunately, not all of us are able to do like what others are doing because we have cash flow issues. However, what some of us can do is perhaps offer words of encouragement to individuals. Of course, this will not pay their bills, but during this time people will be faced with many emotional issues as a result of the loss of a job and the uncertainty.
There are some of us who are landlords and have obligations with the bank. If you are in a position to reduce what you charge for rent, please do so. If you cannot, then allow your tenants to pay in multiple payments.
The parliamentarians and the civil servants are getting paid 100% of their salary. There are people in the private sector who are literally not getting any money. I personally believe some empathy needs to be in place and the international flights should be allowed to come to TCI. This is the main source of income for many of us. It is not our fault that the relevant equipment is not in place. There are still ways and means of getting people to their country if they get sick. It has been two months now and all relevant protocols and sourcing of equipment should have been done by now. Again, he who feels knows it. If the parliamentarians and the other relevant authorities who are making these decisions were not getting a full salary, I am quite sure the approach would have been different.
I do empathize though with the relevant civil servants who are doing their best to process the stimulus applications. It must be an arduous and lengthy task. As I mentioned on my radio show, I believe this delayed process could have been avoided if we got the employer involve in the processing of these applications. We should be able to trust the employer which leads me to the next element of this article which is collaboration.
One of the keys to recover in any situation is through collaboration. I know that the Government has collaborated with the Utility, Telephone and Water companies to ensure that there are no late fees as a result of not paying on time. This is a great example of collaboration.
Another form of collaboration is for the Govt to embrace and engage the relevant stakeholders no matter what side of the fence you think they are on. There are some bright minds in this country locals and expats. There is no need to rely on one set of stakeholders in the tourism industry and there is no need to consult only with well-known supporters of a political party.
It is noted that several Caribbean countries have listed their intended dates for the reopening of the international flights. Governments throughout the Caribbean should collaborate on combating this virus and providing a plan on the road to recovery. I tell you one thing if we don’t collaborate, then we will continue to be like what we were before where everybody just looking out for themselves. Furthermore, if other countries or organizations have a plan in place, then why reinvent the wheel. This is indeed an opportunity for the Caribbean to collaborate.
The road to recovery is a complex one due to the uncertainty, fear and the financial impact that many of us have encountered. However, we can simplify the recovery plan by collaborating with the right people and empathizing with others.