Leader of the Opposition McKeeva Bush filed a Private Member’s Motion in the Legislative Assembly asking government to consider establishing a programme to provide qualified people funding for hurricane shutters.
The motion points out that many people depend on the Government to supply them with plywood during the threat of a hurricane because they do not have shutters.
‘It’s a very costly exercise,’ he said. ‘I believe government needs to do something about it.’
Although he says government has assisted residents ‘off and on’ through the years with hurricane preparations, the help has increased since Hurricane Ivan caused so much damage to Grand Cayman in September 2004. Particularly in advance of Hurricane Dean last year and Hurricane Gustav last week, government expended large amounts of money to pay for plywood for residents. Mr. Bush estimated that 2,300 sheets of plywood were distributed to residents of West Bay alone in preparation for Hurricane Gustav.
For a variety of reasons, Mr. Bush doesn’t believe the plywood given to residents is being reused from year to year.
‘We need to do something that is more permanent,’ he said.
Mr. Bush proposes that government bear the cost of securing the homes of indigent people with shutters. He proposes that other qualified residents could borrow money made available through the Cayman Islands Development Bank in the form of a government-guaranteed loan over 10 to 12 years.
‘It could be interest free, if government could afford it,’ he said. ‘But the idea is that there are people who have good jobs that can’t afford to spend $6,000 or $7,000 for shutters, but they could afford to pay $30 or $40 a month.’
Mr. Bush said he was not overly concerned that people would not pay back the loan because most people would not have a problem affording the payments.
‘In any event, even if government had to pay for some of the people, it would be much less trouble than what we have now,’ he said.
Mr. Bush’s motion also suggests that government consider securing the properties off all frontline public servants as part of its normal hurricane preparations.
‘You have a lot of frontline personnel like police officers and other civil servants who, because of their duties, can’t get their own places prepared,’ he said. ‘Government should have Public Works or somebody help get those people shuttered up and secured.’
Mr. Bush also filed two other Private Member’s Motions, one of which suggested the government conduct ‘a scientific study to ascertain and determine the possible causes of the extremely high degree of cancer in these Islands.’
The motion presupposed that there is indeed a high degree of cancer in the Cayman Islands.
‘You hear that a lot,’ Mr. Bush said, acknowledging that part of the scientific study could be to determine if there is in fact a high incidence of cancer in the Cayman Islands.
Another motion asks the Government to take the necessary steps to regularise the immigration status of long-term resident Cubans with Caymanian family connections.
Mr. Bush said there was an effort in the mid-90s to bring home Cubans with Caymanian family connections. Some of those people who came were given time limits to make applications to regularise their immigration status and some were not, Mr. Bush contends.
As a result, some of those who did not are having their applications for permanent residence denied, he said.
‘These are good citizens,’ he said. ‘Government needs to find a way to regularise this situation.’