Chamber gives no leeway on budget

Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce President Angelyn Hernandez last week called on the Government to deliver a balanced budget and surplus.

Ms Hernandez

Ms Hernandez

She warned the business community will provide the government with no leeway on what she called this most fundamental of micro-economic principles.

‘There should be no misunderstanding about the crucial importance of maintaining a budget in surplus,’ she said.

Budget debate begins Friday in the Legislative Assembly.

Her remarks on budgetary policy were part of an address to the Chamber of Commerce’s First Legislative Luncheon at the Ritz Carlton 25 April.

The luncheon was attended by business and media representatives and legislators from both political parties, including Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbets, and Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush.

Ms Hernandez said that while budget deficits can occur as a result of unforeseen circumstances, the government must not borrow to fund recurrent expenditure.

She said budget deficits should be made up from cuts to public spending rather than through increased charges to the public.

Ms Hernandez used the address to outline nine policy priorities the Chamber sees as important for a prosperous future for Cayman. Some of the Chamber’s priorities are already being address by the government, she said.

Ms Hernandez said improved government efficiency through greater use of technology is an important priority for the Chamber.

‘Wouldn’t it be lovely to pay all government fees online or if government began accepting debit cards for the payment of fees?’

In addition to saving Cayman millions of dollars each year in the recovery of bounced cheques and staffing, Ms Hernandez said key services could be outsourced to the private sector, creating new business and job opportunities.

‘Why not set as a policy target that all government departments and statutory agencies … have computer systems in place to accept fees and applications online by January 2009?’

Ms Hernandez also called for the creation of a growth management policy to help Cayman meet future demographic, environmental and socio-economic challenges.

Ms Hernandez announced the Chamber will launch an initiative called Cayman 2020 in the coming months. She said the Chamber looks forward to receiving government support and participation in the programme.

Based upon programmes in cities such as Houston and New York, the Chamber hopes the programme will help Cayman work toward a sustainable and prosperous vision of itself in the year 2020.

In the month ahead the Chamber will appoint a 10 – 15 member Futures Task Force from a broad group of community leaders to help guide it toward this goal.

Other Chamber policy priorities identified in Ms Hernandez’s address included the establishment of a small business agenda; improved collection by government of existing revenue sources; the evaluation of privatisation as a way to improve efficiencies and reduce government costs; improved customer service standards across public and private sectors; and improved government procurement policies.