TC Islanders status and BOTC should not be on the same par
The Turks and Caicos Islands Government recently celebrated one year in power. During the state of state address, the Premier disclosed a number of initiatives for persons with TC Islanders status and BOTC status. Some of these initiatives included the distribution of the stimulus, the waiver of duties for homeowners and the reduction in stamp duty.
Despite the economic boom, many Turks and Caicos Islanders are left behind and it is time that the Government focused on initiatives for Turks and Caicos Islanders only. If we are going to equate the same benefits for Turks and Caicos Islanders and BOTC then what privileges and benefits do we have as Turks and Caicos Islanders. If you are opening these benefits to BOTC then why not include Permanent Residents? (After all, being a PRC, you can apply for BOTC after merely a year) Of course, I do not support that but I hope you get the point I am trying to make.
It is time we ‘put our feet down” and don’t be ashamed to include initiatives for Turks and Caicos Islanders Status only. Do you know in the UK, British Overseas Territories Citizens do not enjoy the same benefits as British Citizens? Then why in TCI are we allowing BOTC to enjoy the same benefits as Turks and Caicos Islanders?
British Overseas Territories Citizens
I don’t know why some people mislead the public that people born in this country to non -Turks and Caicos Islanders cannot get any documents or status. This is far from the truth. According to the British Nationality Act of 1981, section 15 4 “A person born in a dependent territory after commencement who is not a British Dependent Territories citizen by virtue of subsection (1) or (2) shall be entitled, on an application for his registration as a British Dependent Territories citizen made at any time after he has attained the age of ten years, to be registered as such a citizen if, as regards each of the first ten years of that person’s life, the number of days on which he was absent from that territory in that year does not exceed 90.”
British Overseas Territories Citizen should not enjoy the same benefits as Turks and Caicos Islanders Status. If they want to enjoy the privileges as a Turks and Caicos Islander, then they should wait until they qualified to become Turks and Caicos Islanders.
According to subsection 3 of Section 4 of the Turks and Caicos Islander Status Ordinance, a BOTC can get status through grant if they either held a permanent residence certificate for a period of at least five years or has been legally resident in the Islands for a period of at least ten years. You see if there is a way for BOTC to get status, then let them apply and if granted status, then they can enjoy the benefits as a Turks and Caicos Islander
Of course, I am not blaming BOTC but I am blaming Cabinet and the Members of the House of Assembly for allowing this to happen.
The benefits of holding a Turks and Caicos Islander Status
As a citizen of any country, you are entitled to certain benefits and privileges. In the Turks and Caicos, some of these benefits are as follows
- You are entitled to vote
- You are entitled to apply for the business licensee under the Reserve Category
- You are entitled to be free of immigration control
- You are entitled to scholarships from the Turks and Caicos Islands Government
- You are entitled to access to crown land
You should also be the only ones entitled to the initiatives that the Government. If we are not careful, we will soon open the doors for BOTC to qualify for scholarships, to qualify for the reserve category business licenses and to qualify to vote.
The requirements to obtain a “BOTC” is so open and if we continue to offer them the same benefits as Turks and Caicos Islanders, then what privileges do we have as TC Islanders. When this Government took office a year ago, they promised us they would put TC Islanders first. They never said we would be on the same level as others. Don’t you’ll realize by including BOTC, we are in a way enlarging the franchise? We need empowerment initiatives and benefits reserved for Turks and Caicos Islanders only.