Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts said last week that greater autonomy for the Cayman Islands would not result in an uncertain business climate for the islands in years to come.
Mr. Tibbetts has repeatedly denounced statements from opposition party members that have called into question the economic success of territories who have gained greater political advancement from the United Kingdom as scare mongering.
‘London recognises as well as we do, that there is a need for greater role clarity in where responsibility lies,’ Mr. Tibbetts said during an interview with the Caymanian Compass. ‘The colonial thought process is long gone.’
As early as January, Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush raised the issue of sustained financial success in the Cayman Islands.
‘Political advancement in many countries, although it has been enthusiastically received, did not bring about economic benefits,’ Mr. Bush said (see Compass, 24 January). ‘In many instances, it led to the decline of the rule of law, politically engineered disunity amongst the population, political abuse of those who oppose particular groups in power and a host of other problems, which have led to a decline in the standard of living.’
Mr. Tibbetts has said such statements by Mr. Bush are ‘irresponsible’ and has said Cayman’s constitutional reform proposal is not seeking ‘anything like independence’ from the UK.
‘It’s not changing the road, it’s just making sure that all of your signs are clear…and where there are solid lines, it’s clear for them to see that they can’t overtake,’ he said, ‘so everybody knows what you can and can’t do.’
In fact, Mr. Tibbetts said the UK wants to have its remaining territories modernise their constitutions.
‘The 1999 white paper specifically stated that was the intention, and we were encouraged to do so,’ Mr. Tibbetts said.
However, other opposition members have pointed out that some of the changes proposed by the government in its reform plan were similar to what the UK’s most constitutionally advanced overseas territory, Bermuda, has in its governing document.
West Bay MLA Rolston Anglin said the Bermuda constitution was a ‘pre-independence’ constitution, although government ministers point out that Bermuda has not gone independent from the UK even after decades of what has essentially been local rule.
Of late, however, there have been signs of trouble in the Atlantic territory.
A report in Bermuda’s Royal Gazette newspaper last week said violent crime had increased by more than 44 per cent there over the last seven years.
Police statistics also indicate robberies there have increased 48 per cent in the past year, and that residential burglaries have gone up more than 75 per cent in that same time.
The Gazette quoted Bermudian police officials stating they believed the crimes were largely being committed by repeat offenders who had been let out of prison after serving their sentences.
Also last week, Bermudian Finance Minister Paula Cox publicly criticised a report posted on the OffshoreAlert website in which a US consultant stated Bermuda’s international business prospects would be hampered by political corruption and the prospect of independence in the near future.
‘There will always be those who seek to tear down (Bermuda’s) stellar reputation,’ Minister Cox told the Gazette.
Mr. Tibbetts has previously said that Caymanian leaders, both government and opposition, do not take the same position that Bermuda’s Premier Ewart Brown has in relation to his country’s autonomy.
‘We simply want a system that is more accountable, a governance model that allows for elected representation to simply have the responsibility that the citizens now believe that they do have…which they don’t,’ Mr. Tibbetts said.