Cabinet cancels book fees

Families with children in Cayman’s public school system will not have to pay book rental fees in the 2008-09 school year, Cabinet ministers announced last week.

Education Minister Alden McLaughlin also said any money owed for book rentals in previous years will be waived.

Cayman Islands primary school students are charged a $50 annual fee for book rentals, Years 7-9 students are charged $100, and Years 10-12 students are charged $150 for rentals. The charges are on top of other costs parents must pay for items like school uniforms and supplies.

‘It has been found that (the fees) are placing an additional financial strain on parents — especially those with limited income or with several children of school age,’ Mr. McLaughlin said. ‘By removing the requirement to pay book fees, it is government’s intention that all children, irrespective of their financial situations, will always have access to the school books which they need.’

It is anticipated that the book rental fees will be eliminated in future school years as well.

Mr. McLaughlin estimated the fee removal will cost government some $240,000 in lost revenues, but he said the plan is part of a broader initiative aimed at increasing the purchasing power of Caymanians.

‘This government is fully aware of, and is sympathetic to, the pressures currently being placed on our citizens by the knock-on effect of rising prices globally,’ he said.

The announcement that book rental fees would be removed came the same day as Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts said Cabinet would be considering price control measures for Cayman’s petrol distributors.

Mr. Tibbetts said further cost-saving measures would soon be implemented by government, but he did not specify those.