November 17, 2019

TCI: Government to boost economic diversification


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5-2-2016-10-13-40-AM-10465447By Olivia Rose From Turks & Caicos Weekly News

The diversification of the Turks and ’ economy remains high in the Government’s agenda to ensure economic sustainability, and resilience from internal and external economic shocks.

Governor Peter Beckingham during his throne speech on Monday (April 18), following the passing of the 2015 to 2016 budget, emphasised the prioritisation of the country’s citizens and the Government’s role in creating the conditions and environment for their businesses to thrive.

He noted that the introduction of a micro, small and medium enterprises () programme is one of the key pillars of economic diversification.

Several policies have been developed and continue to be developed to support economic diversification.

These include policies on agriculture, manufacturing and processing, health tourism and other initiatives such as information and technology infrastructure, aquaculture and pelagic fishing.

He said: “The Government firmly believes that if we are to be sustainable as a jurisdiction we must be globally competitive and hence the ease of doing business must increase and the cost of doing business must decrease.”

Governor Beckingham underscored that the Government will continue to improve its systems to reduce the complexity and increase the ease of doing business.

This will be done through its investment in e-government technologies especially in areas of finance, immigration, health, education and law enforcement.

“The Government will continue to reduce the tax burden and broaden the tax base while protecting the consumer through the introduction of consumer protection legislation and increasing Government’s revenue through increased compliance.”

He said although it is the desire of the Government to create greater diversification of the economy it is cognisant that tourism will continue to be the main economic driver of the Islands.

“Hence we will continue to develop and diversify our tourism product and invest in the marketing and promotion thereof and expand our reach into new source markets globally.”

Governor Beckingham pledged the Government’s support to the development of tourism in family islands.

This he noted will be done through the development of the necessary infrastructure such as airports, seaports, and roads and attracting local and foreign direct investment in tourism products such as hotels, villas, eco lodges and associated tourism services.

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: Local entrepreneurs to benefit from Government support

By Olivia Rose From Turks and Caicos Weekly News

Local entrepreneurs will receive financial and technical support to boost the productivity and maximise their profits through a Government support micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) programme.

The MSME programme forms part of the Government’s drive to foster greater economic development in the Turks and Caicos Islands through investment in entrepreneurship.

The programme also aims to encourage the establishment, growth and retention of sustainable businesses, which enhances the Turks and Caicos Islands through innovation, creativity, business vitality, diversity, inclusiveness and environmental sustainability.

Speaking at a media conference on Monday (April 25) finance minister Washington Misick said the MSME sector is a vital part of any economy, therefore the onus is upon the Government to create a conducive environment for it to thrive.

He said: “This is an area that we need to put a lot of emphasis on, and what we want to do is to encourage entrepreneurship.

“There’s a big difference between entrepreneurship and trading. What we have here, people buying and selling, is not my definition of an entrepreneur.

“It needs to be stretched a little longer and wider to include productivity, whether it’s primary or secondary production but we want to get people thinking creatively.”

He noted that the intention of the programme is to create diversity in all sectors.

“The list of preferred endeavours at the back of the ordinance, the focus is on agro-culture, aqua-culture, technology, particular emphasis is placed on the hospitality industry.

“Trying to encourage particularly the local community to get involved in villa rental, in bed and breakfast.

“At the end of the day what we’re trying to do is to make sure we have an inclusive economy where no-one is left behind.”

He noted that the funding the Government has made available so far is expendable based on the level of demand.

He made it clear that the programme is not aimed at providing funding for retail businesses per se, but it is aimed at the creative industry.

John Rutherford, chief executive officer of Invest TC, the company mandated to carry out the logistics of the programme, explained that the company’s role is twofold.

Firstly to increase economic activity on the Islands and secondly to create employment opportunities.

“We kicked off the programme from April and it covers three areas of concessions, one is a cash grant and that cash grant of $10,000 is for what we call micro enterprises.

“The second area is duty concessions. Both small and medium enterprises can qualify for duty concession that help with the building, the raw materials and the start-up of a new venture.

“The third area is around technical assistance and this can be helping an entrepreneur to develop their product whether it is through labelling marketing, through understanding the finances.”

Weighing in on the importance of the programme and its all-encompassing approach, Arthur Been, Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance, explained that while cash grants are not available for retail business they can still benefit from technical assistance to help with the growth of their enterprise.

He said: “If you are in the business of producing a product, you can benefit from the customs import duty concessions as well as the concession for technical assistance where you can take your product from being just a home based product to the marketing experts and they will help with packaging and promotion and sale of those products.

“So do not be discouraged if you’re in the business of resale, if you need equipment to take your business to the next level and take the production process to the next level.”

TCI’s Centre of Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) is tasked with helping entrepreneurs to develop a solid business plan.

Head of CEDA Sophia Thomas said the agency’s role is to help strengthen the MSME sector of the Turks and Caicos Islands.

“We want to encourage innovation, we want our MSMEs to be climate resilient, we also want them to exercise proper managerial skills in operating their businesses.

“We want them to continue to see themselves as valuable in contributing to the economic growth of the TCI.”

The MSME programme will support innovative businesses that demonstrate solid market potential and a sound business model, including long-term financial viability while increasing the overall value and volume of exports from the Turks and Caicos Islands.

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