Governor calls for restraint

In one of the shortest Throne Speeches in memory, Governor Stuart Jack called for financial restraint in government in light of external economic conditions.


Speaker of the House Edna Moyle, right, leads the way for, from left, Governor Stuart Jack and Chief Justice Anthony Smellie prior to Mr. Jacks delivery of the Throne Speech during the State Opening of the 2008-09 Session of the Cayman Islands Legislative Assembly on Wednesday.
Photo: Alan Markoff

‘In view of international economic developments, in particular the state of the US economy and high commodity prices, Government must be especially prudent in its budgetary plans,’ he said.

Mr. Jack said good dialogue between government and industry was vital to ensure the economy would continue to flourish, particularly in the area of financial services.

‘But we must not forget the consumer, the ordinary members of our community, who are concerned about high prices and want to see the benefits of competition and better job opportunities.’

With regard to good governance, Mr. Jack pointed to positive changes already progressing, such as the passing of the Freedom of Information Law, the opening to the public of the Public Accounts Committee hearings and the drafting of the Anti-Corruption Bill, which will come before the Legislative Assembly in the near future.

‘I will soon be taking forward other proposals in the wake of the recent Commission of Enquiry,’ he said.

‘The ongoing constitutional review process is also very much about good governance and enshrining our well-established respect for human rights.’

Mr. Jack said that once the constitution referendum was held, the Constitutional Modernisation Secretariat would prepare for negotiations with the UK and provide technical support for the negotiating team.

Looking long-term, Mr. Jack said more attention was needed in the area of climate change. Along those lines, the Department of Environment will implement as project called ‘Enhancing Capacity for Adaptation to Climate Change’.

‘In consultation with other agencies, it also will develop a national climate-change adaptation strategy.’

Other efforts will look at development in the country, Mr. Jack said.

‘I am also hopeful that we will soon launch an important project to put together what is called sustainable development strategy or, put more simply, a joined-up effort across Government and the community to chart the future of these Islands so as to maintain our prosperity, our social fabric and values, and our environment for future generations.’

In outlining the goals of the various government departments, portfolios and ministries, Mr. Jack said a priority of the Cabinet Office was the coordination of the National Poverty Reduction Strategy and Action Plan, which will follow from the National Assessment of Living Conditions. Another priority for the Cabinet Office will be the establishment of a national identification system.

Through the Cabinet Office, the Protocol Office will identify and adopt regional best practices to augment procedures in the Cayman Islands, Mr. Jack said.

With regard to the Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs, Governor Jack said the objectives were to enhance public safety and security through improved facilities and equipment; to establish innovative uses of resources; and to improve the monitoring of the delivery of key services.

Those objectives are expected to be facilitated through the completion of the Bodden Town Emergency Response Centre; the construction of a new prison; and the granting of certain categories of work permits administratively by the Immigration Department.

The Portfolio of the Civil Service will promote and facilitate management and HR best practices, centred on key initiatives such as succession planning; performance management; and preparations to introduce performance-related pay.

Mr. Jack said that in the objectives of the Portfolio of Finance & Economics, the Treasury Department would assist ministries and portfolios in completing annual reports for the 2005/06, the 2006/07 and the 2007/08 budget years. A website on which government tenders can be advertised is also on the agenda.

The Economics and Statistics Office will develop a new consumer price index basket and the Cayman Islands’ first system of national accounts, Mr. Jack said, adding that it would also prepare for the 2010 census.

The General Registry plans to implement an electronic filing and storage system, Mr. Jack said.

Key plans in the various ministries outlined in the Throne Speech included: the Planning Department’s implementation of the Builders Bill; the release of the 2008 Development Plan; the drafting of a new Mental Health Law; the start of a purpose-built residential facility for mental health patients; correcting the shortcomings of the Health Insurance Law; a new governance model for the Health Services Authority; the restructuring of the Department of Children and Family Services; the combining of the Health Insurance Commission and the Health Practice Commission; the commencement, continuation and completion of several capital infrastructure projects; and the expansion of the Ministry of Tourism’s Go East Initiative as part of the National Tourism Management Plan.

Other key legislation expected over the upcoming financial year will include bills concerning environmental conservation, public transport and liquor licensing, Mr. Jack said.