Leader of the Opposition McKeeva Bush accused the People’s Progressive Movement of a too little, too late economic policy last week.
Mr. Bush, in a press release issued by the United Democratic Party, was referring to statements made by Leader of Government Business Mr. Kurt Tibbetts at the Chamber of Commerce Legislative Luncheon last week.
‘Let’s examine what has actually occurred here,’ Mr. Bush said. ‘The Chamber is asking for there to be a small business strategy for the country. But the UDP commissioned an economic plan which included a national strategy for small businesses in 2004 and this PPM administration left it on the shelves.
‘Can the Leader of Government Business now explain why something that was done four years ago is still being called for by the private sector?’
Representatives from the financial services sector at the Chamber luncheon said that either lobbyists for the financial services sector were not in key places such as Washington or London, or they were not effective.
Mr. Bush said he had active lobbyists in place during the previous government administration, of which he was the leader. He said the PPM Government reversed an effective system that was in place, leaving the industry without the necessary support for nearly four years.
“Back then we had lobbyists in place,’ he said. ‘They were active. And by the way, the firms that we hired to represent us actually visited the Cayman Islands regularly. The private sector here got to know them. This is unlike the current situation where many within the private sector have not even met these people, much less understand what they have been doing to protect our financial industry.’
Mr Bush criticised the decision of the current government to close down strategic offices he had set up in places like London, Hong Kong and plans for Dubai to support the financial services industry, where his vision was to foster relationships in key jurisdictions that the financial services sector saw as new business opportunities.
‘During my term, we felt that our financial services industry needed some form of official support on the ground in those key locations,’ Mr. Bush said. ‘Our role as Government was to be a facilitator. If the industry felt that Asia, for example, was a key market opportunity, then it was our duty to ask ‘what can we do to better facilitate your efforts’.
‘That is how we operated. Instead we have witnessed in the past four years, a government that has ignored the financial services industry until the 11th hour…’
Mr Bush also took issue with the constant statements implying that the global crisis is the main reason that the Cayman Islands economy has suffered over the past four years.
‘The Cayman Islands economy has been in decline every year since 2006 based on official data from the Government. The PPM cannot now try to blame the decline in the Cayman Islands economy since 2006 on this recent global crisis. We all know better than to believe that piece of propaganda,’ said Mr. Bush.
Mr. Bush said the domestic policy framework has not been effective during these years to provide this country with a vibrant economy.
“How can we expect businesses to survive in this type of economic environment?”
“Now with [Election Day] looming we are seeing a flurry of activity,’ Mr. Bush said. ‘When they reversed the initiatives that we had in place to protect our economy in 2005, they put politics before the people of this country. Now with these 11th-hour moves, what we are seeing is more of the same. It is all too little to late, Mr Tibbetts.’