09 October, 2010
One last quote from the TCI Journal is called for. There is an article from a foreign investor published by the Journal. It is so applicable to Anguilla, that I thought it was wasted on TCI. So, I reproduce it here for Anguillians to read. The scenario described is exactly what the investor faces when he visits Anguilla, that you may well ask yourself how he could have confused Anguilla with TCI. This is what he wrote [replace TCI with Anguilla everywhere]:
“Through your Journal I would like to state the case for our investment group, and for the local population to understand the difficult situation any investor currently faces when doing business in the TCI. This is in the sincere hope that our stance may assist future inward investment and the resultant development of your country. Although I write as an individual from within the group, our feelings are fairly universal.
Our group of mainly European based investors has had a presence in the TCI on and off over a number of years, primarily to gauge development potential, and to get a "real feel" for the islands; we have also secured private property there. We have been considering a major development within the islands for some time, and in fact presented our plans and ideas to the previous administration. However, we were far from impressed with the way in which they expected us to do business, so quickly lost interest (most investors/developers are honest hard working people who risk very much and will not be compromised as a matter of principal).
In the meantime we visited three other Caribbean Islands and one central South American country, and presented our proposal to their respective governments, but more about that later.
When the British partially suspended the constitution and took over the administration of the islands, it renewed our interest and we felt that the TCI could once again be a safe bet.
Our planned development would have created many new jobs, new services, business opportunities, brought many new high net worth individuals to your shores and would have assisted greatly with economic diversification; all of which the islands desperately need at this time. However, after recent events we have decided that the TCI is "not for us" and the USD100M+ project we had planned, and which was fully capitalised with our own in house funding, will now be executed elsewhere. I know for a fact that we are not alone in this regard and generally for the same reasons stated below.
This was NOT as a result of the British, who we strongly believe will eventually turn the economy around and develop a more sustainable economic base for the TCI’s long term future. It is because of the attitude of very many locals, who believe that the rest of the world owes them a living. Most of whom want our money and developments, but DO NOT want us and will do all in their power to prevent us from gaining a fair path to citizenship, regardless of the amount of pure financial input or socio economic benefit we bring.
The simply appalling and vastly over staffed TCI Civil Service was another reason for not wanting to do business here. Compared to other Caribbean destinations, the TCI civil service is light years behind, and is the single most inefficient organisation we have ever come across in thirty years of doing business on three continents.
Over the last few years we have had literally dozens of TCI people offer to be our "belonger partners", but the very same people brought absolutely nothing to the table. No skills, no experience, no cash or assets even, just the promise of getting our development rubber stamped through the back door by friends and relatives; the very scenario we were trying to avoid.
Incidentally, the term "belonger" appears to not even be an actual word, and is certainly not listed in the Oxford English Dictionary, and to the uninitiated it seems to be a derogatory term; maybe you should consider moving into the 21st century and changing this?
The way in which many locals propose to do business, have monopolies on business licenses, certain trades etc. is also discriminatory. Ironically however, I have heard in recent weeks certain locals bleating about making representation to the European Union court of human rights etc.. However, the EU would certainly view much of what goes on in the TCI as discriminatory. As one social group is favored politically and otherwise over others; so good luck with that, you cannot have your "cake and eat it’!
The talk of independence is also of great concern to our group. How can we be sure our USD100M+ investment would have been safe in five years time? In our opinion the TCI is far from ready for independence and such talk is complete folly by one of two types of people. Either, completely uneducated people who know no better and who usually follow everyone else, or people who will do anything to avoid the long arm of the law for previous wrong doing. Sadly, Mugabe and Zimbabwe spring to mind.
The honesty, integrity and skills of your politicians is also of great concern. The current leaders of the two major political parties, would never inspire confidence in any savvy investor group. One seems to make completely irrational and arbitrary statements that lack any real thought or intelligence. The other has a large cloud hanging over his head from the previous administration, which may rain rather heavily on him in the very near future! Neither could be considered true statesmen and appear to be nothing more than pure "chancers" from the exact same mould as all the other previous non-entities.
The TCI really needs a fresh approach when it comes to politics and politicians, because the dead horse you have been flogging for years has completely had it! It would be nice to see some TCI youngsters getting into politics for all the right reasons, taking a fresh look at the problems the country faces and not being tainted by the dishonest practices of old.
The TCI has missed out on an excellent development opportunity because of the blinkered attitude of a good portion of locals, an awful civil service, an appalling TC Invest and a general apathy we find hard to fathom in the current climate.
The other countries we have visited in the region worked hard to build our confidence in an efficient, professional and transparent manner; reassured us where necessary and generally welcomed us for the long haul. We have never expected "something for nothing", in fact quite the opposite is true. However, you cannot have it both ways, and need to learn to compromise. This is the first step to flourishing and eventually prospering as a nation.
As long as the current attitude towards foreign investors prevails, you will never achieve this goal, but Good Luck and God bless anyway!”