PPM denies Bush’s claims

Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts denied claims made by Leader of the Opposition McKeeva Bush against the People’s Progressive Movement government in an address broadcast Sunday to mark National Heroes Day.

Mr. Tibbetts refused, however, to be baited into response of the individual allegations made by Mr. Bush.

‘I’m surprised that the Leader of the Opposition would dishonour the occasion of National Heroes Day by making a partisan political speech and launching into personal attacks on me and other members of Government,’ Mr. Tibbetts said.

Mr. Bush’s speech addressed many issues, and alleged victimisation of civil servants, unfair treatment by government boards and preferential partisan treatment for members of the public.

Speaking specifically about a property transaction involving Mr. Tibbetts and fellow PPM legislator Alfonso Wright, Mr. Bush claimed the two abused the power of their positions in registering a restriction on a George Town property.

Mr. Bush said the restriction prevented the sale of the property to another party, and allowed Mr. Tibbetts and Mr. Wright to eventually purchase the property.

‘For a government that campaigned on openness, integrity and honesty, it is hypocritical that they would then subject the people of this country to this kind of governance,’ he said.

Mr. Bush took some shots at other individuals as well, calling the Chairman of the Central Planning Authority – who is Dalkeith Bothwell – a ‘PPM lackey’.

‘There are issues with the Central Planning Authority and many complaints about the ineffective chairing of this board,’ Mr. Bush said.

‘When boards like these do not function as they should, they make the process of investment and development far more cumbersome for people who have to do things through Planning.’

The PPM government was also blamed for what Mr. Bush called an unprecedented increase in the cost of living.

In particular, Mr. Bush said the PPM government had taken a different course of action with regard to negotiations with Caribbean Utilities Company, which had resulted in rising electricity costs.

‘You can only blame the ruling PPM for your high electricity bills,’ Mr. Bush said. ‘In addition, this PPM government has given CUC the go-ahead to buy more equipment on its own, so there is nothing to bid for [by potential competitors]. When will CUC’s monopoly end?’

CUC declined to comment on the issue, saying any response should come from the PPM government and not CUC.

Mr. Bush also criticised the PPM’s Strategic Policy Statement, and in particular their predictions that the budget surplus would grow to more than $60 million by 2016.

‘When you look at their so-called plan, it will show that this budget is based on nothing in the islands changing over the next 10 years,’ Mr. Bush said. ‘There is no provision for another Ivan or any other type of natural disaster.

‘Our experience shows that nobody will come to our rescue if anything happened. That means that every plan for the Cayman Islands must have provision for disaster because we have to help ourselves.’

Mr. Bush noted the PPM Government announced that $25 million of additional revenue had to be raised in the next budget, and another $3 million of revenue measures in the following year’s budget.

‘They say this money is needed to maintain the projects that will come from the quarter billion dollars they plan to borrow,’ Mr. Bush said. ‘They borrow money and saddle your children’s future with debt, then turn around and take money out of your pockets to maintain what they borrowed.’

To raise the additional revenues, Mr. Bush predicted the PPM Government would ‘pick on every little thing to increase fees’.

‘[The] cost of living will go up because of all the fee increases,’ he said.

Other issues raised by Mr. Bush in his address included outsourcing, cruise tourism, and Cayman Airways.

Speaking about the latter, Mr. Bush said he had heard Cayman Airways was moving to purchase Sammy’s Airport Inn.

‘As yet, we have heard no details of this purchase, or how much they are planning to spend to renovate it,’ he said. ‘Cayman Airways certainly cannot afford this kind of expenditure.’

Mr. Tibbetts did not believe the time appropriate for debate on the issues raised by Mr. Bush in his speech.

‘While most of what he said was untrue, the Government will not be drawn into responding in kind,’ he said.

‘National Heroes Day is not the time for political arguments,’ he said. ‘It’s a time to honour the achievements of our people, and I will not cheapen the significance of the occasion by responding to Mr. Bush at this time.’