Politics prominent in address

Besides detailing broad plans for government spending over the next year and setting forth his vision for the Cayman Islands, Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts managed to get a plug in for his political party in Wednesday’s policy statement before the Legislative Assembly.

‘It has been a good season for the Cayman Islands and Caymanians under the (People’s Progressive Movement) government,’ Mr. Tibbetts said. ‘In the fullness of time, I am therefore confident that Caymanians in their wisdom will extend the season of the PPM government.’

Cayman’s next general election is set for May 2009.

Mr. Tibbetts also used the address to stress the importance of completing constitutional modernisation efforts, a subject of much political debate over the past several months.

‘(There) is a real danger which the Cayman Islands face if we fail to modernise our constitution,’ he said. ‘The world is moving on. It is not going to wait on us.’

Mr. Tibbetts wasn’t the only one making politically related comments at the opening of the LA.

As Governor Stuart Jack finished his address, Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush was invited to rise to present the formal motion giving thanks to Mr. Jack and opined that ‘since the Governor has had such a good year – I am privileged to move the following motion.’

Some of the Governor’s actions this year included convening a controversial Commission of Enquiry to look into whether confidential government files had been removed from the Ministry of Tourism in 2004. He also announced the temporary removal of three police commanders in March to ‘facilitate’ an ongoing enquiry at the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service.

Also, Financial Secretary Kenneth Jefferson commented during his section of the budget address about claims which he said had been made that central government’s debt would equal $700 million by June 2009.

‘Whilst it is legitimate for the discussion to occur, it must be done in a factual manner,’ Mr. Jefferson said.

It was unclear who had claimed central government debt would be $700 million; the actual projected figure is $412.7 million by June 2009, if government decides to borrow the full amount set aside in the upcoming fiscal year.

The Opposition, led by Mr. Bush, had previously estimated the cost of four new schools, a new government administration building, road construction and a cruise ship berthing facility would require some $600 million in borrowing.

It has also been estimated that government’s total public sector debt could approach the figure of $700 million within the next year, but that would include public pension liabilities and money owed by statutory authorities and government companies. Currently, borrowings for the entire Cayman Islands public sector are expected to total $658.7 by June 2009.