Opposition MLA Rolston Anglin said the People’s Progressive Movement government is more interested in being re-elected than it is in creating a sustainable economy.
Speaking during his contribution to the budget debate last Thursday, Mr. Anglin said the Opposition had been warning the government for three years that it was on the wrong track with the way it was handling the economy.
Rather than heed the warnings, the government attacked the Opposition, Mr. Anglin said.
‘Their goal has always been to attack the Opposition, to attack the Leader of the Opposition, so they can win an election,’ he said. ‘The prize is not about creating a sustainable economy; the prize is about the next general election.’
Mr. Anglin said the PPM was ‘disconnected from the reality of keeping the economy going’, concentrating instead on electioneering and how to get re-elected in May 2009.
Turning to Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbett’s ‘Keeping the Faith’ budget speech, Mr. Anglin said the message underlying the first page was clear.
‘It said, ‘lower your expectations, temper what you expect in what is supposed to be the land of milk and honey,’ he said. ‘It said you should compare yourself… to those who experience abject poverty… and to just be thankful and keep the faith.’
Discussing the previous election campaign, Mr. Anglin said the PPM had told the public that the UDP and McKeeva Bush had sold them out.
‘They said they were going to take the country back because someone had taken it away,’ he said. ‘Three years later, we’re being told to compare yourselves to abject poverty and be thankful… and to count our blessings one by one.’
Mr. Anglin said the PPM government did not understand how globalisation and capital worked.
‘If you want to be in the fight, you have to give something up,’ he said, adding that the goal should be to maximise opportunities for Caymanians by making sure they are in the fight.
Mr. Anglin said not only did the PPM fool the public by saying they were going to take Cayman back, but it hurt the country.
‘They did not understand the message it was sending to the very people we were trying to lure to our shores; they did not understand that businesses were going to leave the country as a result; they did not understand it was creating more animosity between Caymanians and non-Caymanians, but at that point, they didn’t care.’
Mr. Anglin conceded that most of the capital in Cayman was not held by Caymanians.
‘But that’s globalisation,’ he said. ‘If the great United States of America is dependent on foreign direct investment, how in the world can we dream, as an island as small as Cayman, with no natural resources to speak of… about economic independence. Come on… let’s be honest with our people.’
Speaking about the effects of foreign investment in Cayman, Mr. Anglin said Caymanians had benefited tremendously. He pointed to all of the scholarships that private sector companies had given to young Caymanians – just like himself – who would not have gotten a scholarship otherwise.
‘I want the PPM to tell the country who we’ve taken the country back from,’ he said.
‘This is all about a game and the game is about politics and all about defeating McKeeva Bush.’
Mr. Anglin also criticised the government for saying it was a ‘government in the sunshine.’
‘None of the statutory boards of any significance are open to the public,’ he said, adding that what occurs in government statutory board meetings is one of the main things that causes Caymanians to distrust government.
‘The halls of government are as dark today as they ever have been,’ he said.
‘The government hangs its hat on the cabinet press briefings – what a farce.’
Mr. Anglin said the press briefings should only be used for letting the public know the decisions of Cabinet and other important matters, but instead they are used to lambaste the Opposition and bully the press. He added that the press briefings, which are shown on television and replayed on radio, are a misuse of public funds to further the PPM’s political agenda.
‘Taking Cayman back is all about smoke and mirrors to get elected,’ he said.
Mr. Anglin became very heated when talking about Mr. Tibbetts’ budget speech comments that suggested the UDP was ‘unable to rise to the challenge of recovery and reconstruction’ after Hurricane Ivan.
‘The PPM is still incapable of getting people out of trailer homes 36 months later,’ he said. ‘They make people suffer for 36 months and try to do something at the very end so [the people] remember it, remember the white knights, [at election time].’
Mr. Anglin recalled when Cabinet Minister Alden McLaughlin insisted after Hurricane Ivan the PPM would not agree to the election being delayed any more than six months, even though the devastation from Hurricane Ivan was still very evident.
‘They pushed an agenda to have an election while people were miserable because of all the devastation, knowing that when people are miserable and they hold an election, they don’t vote for the incumbents.’
Turning to the high amount of spending on projects, Mr. Anglin said the country was ‘taking us headlong into disaster.’
‘It’s my children who are going to have to deal with these insane decisions,’ he said.
‘But the eye is on the prize and the prize is May 2009.’