Firstly, let me say that I have always believed in and supported the Cayman Islands Audit System. However, Auditors are not infallible. Their assumptions and even their reasoning can be faulty and at times insensitive to existing situations and conditions.
The Auditor General can say anything and make it appear to be right, but the practical applications of those suggestions or criticisms are sometimes impossible if we want to achieve something beneficial for our people.
Mr. Alden McLaughlin and his elected colleagues have the luxury of hindsight. Had they been the government of the day, it is most obvious by his criticisms that either no decision would have been made or that no stand would have been taken in order to save the company or stop severe international repercussions for the Cayman Islands.
Can you imagine where the Islands would have been during such a chaotic time in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Ivan when everyone did not know what was going to happen to their lives? What would have happened to thousands of Caymanians and our financial industry, which took us many years to build? People who make such criticisms as the Minister have no vision nor do they have any real care about the lives of our people.
It is easy to criticise and say we could have gotten more out of the deal had we waited. That sounds good, but not practical. How could we wait? The entire country was in a state of chaos. People were suffering. We could not wait to help the company and thus the people, which if it had closed down Government would not have got any money, and thousands of people would have been affected negatively.
The hard, cold facts are:
• If Cayman General went down hundreds of Caymanians and other policy holders would not have been paid for their homes, their vehicles or their businesses, including Mr. Tibbetts who was a client of Cayman General. I would have you to know that McKeeva Bush was a client of Dyoll Insurance Company.
• By taking the stand we did, we made the company valuable and a reputable investor could then invest in the company. Would that have been possible had it not been saved by the Government?
• The other significant matter was that there were holes in the Government’s claim. The Tower Building, for instance, was a claim for $10 million but there was no way to get that amount because the Government had already said that the building was so faulty that it had to be demolished.
• The other significant factor which the Auditor General, Mr. McLaughlin and his colleagues has failed to acknowledge is that if Cayman General had failed, then Cayman National Bank would have definitely been detrimentally affected and thousands would have lost. We didn’t have to wait to help people – we could not wait because people would have lost far too much.
After the hurricane, it became evident that there were problems that the company could not pay the Government its entire claim. We were not offered anything like shares. I raised the matter of Government getting shares in the corporation. That was impossible for reasons that the Auditor General should understand, and so if we did not agree to help – Government would not have gotten anything – the company couldn’t just pay us.
As far as I am concerned anyone not seeing the benefit of the step we took, either wants to paint us in a bad light, or wants to see Cayman fail. And I repeat, Cayman would have failed in the bleak, dark days after Hurricane Ivan had Cayman General Insurance failed and a run taken place on Cayman National Bank, thus losing international consumer confidence. Anyone not realising that should not comment on it.
In those days, the whole world was watching whether we would be successful in bringing the country out of the chaos of the hurricane. Had Cayman National Bank been detrimentally affected it would have sent severe shock waves throughout the international community from which Cayman would not have recovered, or recovered so quickly. This was one of the successes of the United Democratic Party Government.
I have always operated in the belief that if I am a part of the Government then Government must help its people – the country is better off by us taking the action we did and taking some shares in the company. Thus the United Democratic Government helped thousands of people in the Cayman Islands.
McKeeva Bush – Leader of the Opposition