The inaugural speech that you delivered to the Turks and Caicos Islands House of Assembly on October 17, 2016, was encouraging to those of us who fully understand the true economic value and importance of inward investment to the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Inward investment is the life blood of the Turks and Caicos Islands and has provided the overwhelming majority of the capital over the last fifty years to create new jobs and improve our schools, roads, police, fire, and medical services. These are public services without which our country could not have prospered. We will continue to need more inward investment capital in the future if we are to continue creating new jobs and expanding and improving the quality of our schools, roads, police, fire, and medical services.
Statements in your inaugural speech seemed to indicate that you comprehend and accept one of the most basic and strategic concepts of international investors and developers; “Good governance earns a good reputation in the wider world. And such a reputation serves in turn to encourage stability and predictability, both of which are conducive to enhanced international investment, including through tourism, and thereby to enhanced prosperity for citizens”.
Presumably you would agree that conversely, poor governance earns a poor reputation in the wider world. And such a reputation serves in turn to encourage the perception of instability and unpredictability, neither of which is conducive to enhancing international investment or development, and ultimately these negative traits will, in our case, diminish prosperity for TCI citizens.
As a well-informed servant of the Queen, you will know that there has been no significant inward investment, almost a suspension of inward investment in the Turks and Caicos Islands since 2008, despite the fact that the countries which have in the past sourced 90% of our investment capital, the UK, Canada and the USA, currently have economies that are booming or robust. Evidence is quite clear and convincing that it is the perception of poor governance that has deterred and is continuing to deter new inward investment and development in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
While there is in fact a newly elected democratic government in the Turks and Caicos Islands (PDM) that appears promising at this time, the very independent Attorney General Rhondalee Braithwaite-Knowles remains the same and she appears to answer to nobody.
I need not go into detail illuminating the damages that this country and numerous inward investors have suffered in the past as a response to some of the idiotic, corrupt, incompetent, or reckless decisions or behavior of former Attorney Generals Kurt De Freitas or Huw Shepheard. Too many of these embarrassing incidents are still searchable online to new investors, developers or their legal counsel in the traditional exercise of due diligence.
But I will tell you that many of the publicly exposed conflicts between the current Attorney General’s Office and various investors and developers are definitely continuing to discourage and deter new investment and development in the TCI.
It has become a well-known fact in the international investment community that there is a total absence of “stability and predictability” in the TCI Attorney General’s Office, and by extension the TCI government. I know that you will agree with me Governor that the total absence of “stability and predictability” in the Attorney General’s Office or TCI government multiplies financial risks exponentially for the investor or developer and substantially reduces the attractiveness of the TCI for investment.
In your 2016 inaugural speech you told us, in reference to a previous position you held, that you “have had responsibility for the promotion of trade and investment”. If you are to be the first British governor in the TCI since 2008 to have any positive impact or success at improving or stimulating trade or investment in the Turks and Caicos Islands you must first correct, repair or replace the critical defect that has effectively thwarted significant investment and development in the Turks and Caicos Islands since 2008; the policies, procedures, management and oversight of the TCI Attorney General’s Office.