Rollover implementation Achilles heel

Over the past 20 months I have watched with disappointment at how the PPM administration has handled the implementation and refinement of the rollover policy with little regard for any concerns expressed along the way, making aggressive statements that divide the community and acting as if Caymanian businesses and their owners need the country more than it needs them.

This rollover topic was dealt with recently by the PPM party chairman Mr. Anthon Duckworth in a commentary in the Net News on 24 January. The commentary appeared to be aimed at justifying the PPM’s approach on the policy and in typical PPM style, did not miss out on the chance to try to place the blame for the current debacle on the previous administration.

Reference is made to the fact that the UDP introduced the rollover and this is done in a manner to give the impression that we are responsible for the crisis that is now growing in the local labour market.

Mr. Duckworth does not make the important distinction between the broader policy itself, which the UDP proudly supported, and the details of the implementation and fine tuning of that policy by the PPM. It is the latter that has created the problems that we are now seeing.

I am proud to be associated with a policy that sought to create more certainty and harmony in our society and put the Cayman Islands in line with international best practices, and had started a sensible and sustainable implementation. But the UDP would not have implemented this policy in the reckless manner as this government has. The PPM has shown little or no regard for the concerns of expats, or Caymanians, and a blatant disregard for the concerns of Caymanian business owners, which is why small business has suffered under them.

They have also demonstrated that they do not fully understand the dynamics of economics and business (large or small) and how the success of a thriving economy is tied to the general well being of our people.

To demonstrate just one aspect of how poorly the policy is being implemented, consider the very harmful rhetoric spread by the PPM administration that felt that the only way to introduce the policy’s implementation was with divisive political spin by Cabinet Ministers aimed at satisfying a few hard line party supporters, which only led to alienate and cause much concern among the expat population and lead to public debate, which gave people both locally and internationally a misperception that Cayman was not a tolerant society.

The truth is, we have been a very tolerant society for decades.

I implore everyone to continue making the islands a harmonious community as we have had before. It does not help any Caymanian or expat to hurt each other in any shape of form. And if we are going to continue to be successful we must live in peace with each other. The good book tells us there should not be hate in our lives.

In fact a current article in the Cayman Observer quotes results from a recent survey showing that while many respondents supported the policy in principle, the vast majority of them – 75 per cent – disagreed with how it was being implemented.

The rhetoric that was also spread by this current administration regarding the resentment in the community by Caymanians was also dispelled by this survey. In another report in a local newspaper, the survey showed that 75 per cent of the respondents had never witnessed any such resentment in the workplace. It showed that there is a lot of harmony in the workplace. And there is no reason to believe otherwise given the very tolerant culture of the Caymanian people.

One does not have to go far to find evidence that it is the implementation of the policy by this government, and not the broader objective of the policy itself, as proposed by the UDP, that is causing unnecessary harm within the community.

In his commentary, Mr. Duckworth quoted an extract from a speech by the current LOGB, in support of the rollover, which said that ‘Caymanians must participate on a genuine priority basis’.

But if they are really so concerned about Caymanians participating at a higher rate in the country’s success, the PPM should be focused on giving a much needed boost to the local economy in a sustainable manner, while preparing Caymanians to participate through training with a proper manpower development plan and implementation, rather than artificially creating a regression in the economy. Their approach to managing the economy shows that this administration has very little understanding or appreciation of the business world, and how it relates to our wider community.

The UDP has never been afraid to react when legitimate concerns are raised irrespective of the status of a policy decision. More careful implementation of the rollover policy by the PPM would have addressed many of the concerns, while still meeting the objective of the policy itself, which the UDP had.

Leadership is not just about trying to get it right it is also about admitting when you have got it wrong and making corrections.

Combine the aggressive political rhetoric, which accompanied the implementation of the policy by the PPM, with the lack of action in several areas and you quickly begin to appreciate why the issues relating to rollover are not about the broad principle in support of Caymanians, but that they relate to the actions of an administration that either cannot or will not provide better implementation and clarity, and has done nothing for Caymanians.

In Mr. Duckworth’s commentary he quotes the LOGB as saying ‘achievement is not a birthright; it requires dedication and hard work.’

I agree. The PPM’s achievement as the party in power is not a birthright either, so it is time for them to show some real dedication and real hard work and correct their mistakes.

However, the damage is already done!

McKeeva Bush

Leader of the Opposition

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