In a historic move on Thursday in the House of Assembly, the government has taken decisive action to alleviate the financial burdens of 176 Turks & Caicos Islander families by passing the complete write-off of the TC Invest/TOLCO loan portfolios, totaling an astonishing $10,588,637.41.
The momentous motion was piloted by Deputy Premier and Minister of Finance Hon. E. Jay Saunders, who delivered an impassioned and heartfelt address to the new parliamentary session.
The finance minister emphasized that the decision was not merely a financial one but a powerful symbol of the government's unwavering commitment to the welfare and prosperity of its citizens. The write-off is seen as a significant step toward offering a brighter future for those who have carried the weight of this debt for up to 26 years.
In his poignant speech, the finance minister underscored the significance of this action and the positive impact it would have on the lives of those affected. He described the loans as more than just numbers on a spreadsheet but as a substantial burden carried by real people with dreams and aspirations.
Over the years, TC Invest provided loans for mortgages and even international school fees, which effectively functioned as student loans. In October 2012, TC Invest was dissolved, and the government absorbed its loan portfolio, then valued at $17,511,794.65.
Subsequently, the loan portfolio was divided into performing and non-performing categories. The non-performing loan portfolio was sold to TOLCO for $0.00, in exchange for a 60/40% split of all monies collected (60% for TOLCO and 40% for the TCIG), while the performing loans remained with the government.
The history continued with various developments, including the dissolution of the agreement between TOLCO and TCIG in May 2017, repurchasing of the non-performing loan portfolio for $1.36 million, and the writing-off of unpaid interest and unsecured loans in March 2020. The government also implemented an interest rate reduction to 6.79% in March 2023.
Despite these previous actions, it became evident that further steps were necessary. The government, in its commitment to the well-being of its citizens, decided to embark on the landmark write-off, which would not only provide financial relief but also restore dignity and hope to those affected.
Invoking Proverbs 27:23-24, the Minister of Finance emphasized government's duty to look after those under its care. He pointed out that the decision to write off the loan portfolios, while a financial matter, is primarily an affirmation of the government's commitment to Turks & Caicos Islanders, each of whom holds a dream of a brighter future.
In the meantime, the finance minister pointed out that the government's action in writing off the loan is expected to have a profound impact on the lives of the 176 families directly affected, offering them a chance at a debt-free and more hopeful future.