New revenue needed

A total of $25 million worth of new revenue measures could be on the way in next year’s budget, the Legislative Assembly heard yesterday.

Moving a motion for the approval of the 2006/07 Strategic Policy Statement, Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts said the expected capital expenditure programme over four years from 2005/06 was $235 million.

The four-year capital programme was the largest in the history of the Cayman Islands, he told the House.

Some might think it ambitious, he said, but it was absolutely necessary and included things like new schools, police spending, provision for the start of government office accommodation and a new court house.

To finance this capital programme there would be a borrowing programme of $182 million over the next three years, he said.

But to fund everything there would also have to be $25 million in new revenue measures, he said.

No decision had been made on specific new revenue measures, said Mr. Tibbetts.

Government took the decision to look at increasing revenue and new revenue measures very reluctantly but realistically, he told the House.

It was clear that Caymanians wanted things like better education, better roads and more resources for the police but such things came at a price.

The government believed people were prepared to pay a little more to get extra services, he said.

An updated revenue register was being created which would give a picture of every line item of revenue that could be looked forward to on an annual basis, he said.

Mr. Tibbetts said the theme of the entire Strategic Policy Statement was ‘continuing what we have started.’

Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush said he felt the government was on the wrong track.

They were intending to borrow $300 million over a six-year term, with most being borrowed in the first four years. And next year people would be taxed $25 million, he said.

‘They tax, they borrow and they spend,’ he told the House.

MLA Rolston Anglin said he wondered how the taxes were going to be raised and what would be the projected impact on the economy and the people.

It could mean things like extra school fees and road tax would be on the way, he told the House.

Consideration of the government motion was set to continue yesterday afternoon.