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TCI Article: Entitlement

#Providenciales, April 17, 2019 – Turks and Caicos – The word entitlement has somehow become a dirty word here in the Turks and Caicos Islands. It is used by some to disparage Turks and Caicos Islanders for things as simple as not wanting to do minimum wage jobs. So let’s explore the word. The definition of entitlement is “the fact of having a right to something.” That’s pretty straight forward and I will give some specific examples of things as Turks and Caicos Islanders that we have a right to and thus are entitled to as enshrined in the TCI Constitution in many cases.

What I believe however that the idea of entitlement is confused with the phrase: sense of entitlement, which is slightly different. If someone has a sense of entitlement, that means the person believes he deserves certain privileges — and he’s arrogant about it. That last part, the arrogance is what rubs people the wrong way in most cases. Nevertheless, the following are things that as Turks and Caicos Islands, we are entitled to:

1.    Entitlement to the Right to Vote – Before a few months ago with the releasing of the FAC Report one could have said this was a no brainer. Let me make my views on this very clear. If you are not a Turks and Caicos Islander by Birth, by Heritage, by Marriage, or by Grant, you have absolutely no right to vote in our free and fair elections of representatives to our House of Assembly, period! No UK citizen or BOTC should be allowed to have an automatic right to vote here in the TCI.

2.    Entitlement to Land – The Turks and Caicos Islands today has some 35-40,000 legal residents of which about half are Turks and Caicos Islanders. With such a small number why is it near impossible for each Turks and Caicos Islander to get at least one piece of residential and commercial property? With the hundreds of thousands of acres of crown land we still have left, there is more than enough for everyone to benefit plus have sufficient for generations to come. Excluding those that benefited previously of course. For those who say but land is a finite resource and we can’t do that, here’s a simple solution. The Crown essentially currently holds all crown land in trust, which it can continue to do until our independence, but once a Turks and Caicos Islander can demonstrate through financial statements that they have the ability to develop the land, issue it and give the time frame for which the development has to take place. If it has not been developed then it returns to the land bank. The difference being if said person at a later date has the financials to prove they can develop a plot of land, they won’t be penalized.

3.     Entitlement to Business Opportunity – As a young country developing into a nation, there are so many business opportunities and new industries that Turks and Caicos Islands can pioneer but for the lack of Capital availability. Governments must create the conditions for TCI-Owned Businesses to thrive in this economy. If you can do it for strangers, you can do it for your own. While this might sound foreign or novel to some, know that every growing nation past and present gives its citizens preferences to get a leg up on the competition. How do you think Donald Trump got elected and will likely be re-elected? MAGA is his mantra.  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on his last crusade before being assassinated i.e. the Poor Man Campaign, advocated for Negro to be given a similar leg up as the European peasants that moved to the American Midwest where they were given land to farm, land grant colleges were set up, plus they got heavily subsidized farming equipment. To this day Agriculture is one of the biggest subsidized industries in the US economy. Get the picture?

4.    Entitlement to Fail – The notion that as Turks and Caicos Islanders, if we fail once we will forever be labeled as failures is otter nonsense. But unfortunately it is what stops many of us from taking the leap into entrepreneurship in the first place. I have failed before and will likely fail again in my lifetime. It was those early failures that have made me what I am today from those lessons learnt. Those who knew me from High School and A –Levels knew I wanted to be a Doctor but clearly the only Doctor Robinson in my immediate family is Dr. Royelle Robinson. What if on returning home with a degree in Geography and Chemistry, TCIG didn’t take a chance on me because of my previous failure and not send me a year later to get a Masters in Disaster Management? My Life would be different; I wouldn’t have gotten a distinction as I was way more focused at that point, nor would I become the youngest National Disaster Coordinators in the history of the Region if not the World. The point is failures are simply lessons in disguise.

I am sure there are more things we’re entitled to but let’s start with those.

Jamell Robinson

Stay Blessed TCI

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