Gov’t needs to cost of living challenges

Over the past two years I have tried to avoid making public utterances dealing with the investigation into the affordable housing matter. Unfortunately a letter written by Hon Charles Clifford has given me cause to be alarmed.

Mr. Clifford’s letter appeared in the Friday, 28 September issue of the Caymanian Compass. His letter is of course to belittle the Leader of the Opposition, Mr. McKeeva Bush, but he also mentioned the affordable housing project for which I had responsibility.

In his letter the Minister also contends that our economy is now robust and booming due to the end of corruption and the new age of transparency in Government. Saying that our economy is robust and booming should alarm even the most ardent PPM supporter. Mr. Clifford certainly cannot mean that things are just fine for the middle and lower income families in these islands.

The cost of living is so high for all of us that even Mr. Truman Bodden and Mr. John McLean have voiced their concern and offered to help by listing their past formula for reducing the high cost of living.

I cannot forget to again thank Mr. Truman and Mr. John for accepting my private member’s motion that asked the government in 2000 to consider the removal of import taxes from food items.

The Government accepted the motion but amended it so as to exempt over 30 food items. Unfortunately Mr. Kurt Tibbetts replaced the duties when he became Leader of Government Business in November 2000.

What alarms me most is that Minister Clifford stated in his letter that he was trained by the FBI, DEA and Scotland Yard to recognize corruption and it was because he recognized corruption in the UDP government that he resigned as a Chief Officer and ran as a candidate with the PPM in the 2005 elections. The first question people must ask is if his accusations were based on professional experience, why did then Governor Bruce Dinwiddy take so long to investigate? Could this delay have had anything to do with the fact that Mr. Clifford left his position as Chief Officer in July 2004, but it was only after he had gained political power – nearly one year after – that he was able to get his investigations, in spite of the fact that he had 17 years of police experience?

Imagine the meeting with Mr. Dinwiddy after the swearing-in ceremony in 2005. It might partly explain why the Governor bypassed the Public Accounts Committee in order to make possible the type of investigations called for by Mr. Clifford and the rest of the PPM government. It is my understanding that the new PPM government asked the former Governor to look further into the affordable housing issue. The Governor then asked the Auditor General for a forensic audit. And the Auditor General then called for assistance from the police.

The PPM’s campaign was all about painting the UDP government as corrupt. Having the police probe deeper into the affordable housing project would certainly raise a cloud of suspicion. However, it is not proof of any action that was illegal.

Mr. Clifford however continues his charges to cover up the inability of the PPM to address the real challenges faced by the people, especially the middle and lower income group.

Many persons, like those that head Cayman National Corporation (then owners of Cayman General Insurance) should be defending the Leader of the Opposition each time he is attacked as being corrupt because he used the power of government to rescue them. They know that the true reason behind the UDP’s decision to protect that institution was to protect the economy and reputation of the Cayman Islands. They are silent now but were it not for the collective power of the people they would now be history.

People say to me each day how difficult it is to find help or compassion and maybe this is so because politicians like Hon. Charles Clifford are afraid of how they will be judged if they get too close to those of you with problems.

What I did to make the lives of a few people more liveable I did because I was close enough to them and their hope, disappointments and fears, to know what Mama always said: ‘every little bit helps and a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.’

Better to do, Mr. Clifford, and be wrong than to have never tried.

Dr. Frank McField