Economy top issue with candidates

Not every candidate has developed a manifesto for the 20 May election, but all candidates that talked with Cayman Free Press and the Chamber Magazine expressed concern about the economy and unemployment.

“I believe it is past time to grow our economic base, which has been in a state of stagnation in all areas for the past several years, while our spending multiplied and our national debt soared,” writes Burns Conolly in his manifesto.

He said he would increase Caymans’ international lobbying network to safeguard the financial industry from negative overseas attacks; restructure the Cayman Islands Investment Bureau to allow it to fulfil its original role of driving overseas business to the Cayman Islands; Establishing our own captive insurance programme; Explore new ways to add to our economic base; and see to it that the Cayman Islands seeks to become the financial centre for the New Cuba.

“The UDP understands the relationship between economic development and the quality of lives of our people. We have consulted with many key stakeholders on their needs and will implement the following short-to-medium term economic recovery plan immediately if elected to office. We will also establish a long term economic development plan for the country,” states the manifesto for the United Democratic Party.

Key UDP strategies include:

Ensuring that Caymanians are protected in the work force; putting measures in place to assist Caymanian homeowners; implementing a small business stimulus and recovery plan; protecting and enhancing the financial services industry; implementing strategies to assist and promote our tourism industry; and developing an aggressive plan to identify and attract new industry to diversify the economy.

“We now find ourselves in the midst of a serious economic situation where both pillars of our economy, financial services and tourism, are under tremendous stress,” penned George Town independent candidate Derrington “Bo” Miller. “It is imperative that we now elect the most competent and experienced candidates to sustain the Cayman Islands through these uncertain times and beyond. We cannot afford to continue the failed policies of the past. Instead, we must choose new leadership to seize the opportunities in this downturn. A comprehensive review of all policies and programmes must be done in order to strengthen those that are necessary and eliminate those that are not working and which we can no longer afford. There is no international bailout/rescue plan for the Cayman Islands; therefore, we must find within ourselves the vision, wisdom, and determination to right the good ship Cayman.”

Bodden Town independent candidate Sandra Catron said a stronger economy will require government to live within a budget and invest in Caymanians.

 “As someone who has struggled in the work environment here in Cayman I share the disenfranchisement that most of young people feel. Opportunities need to be created so that they can be taken advantage of. I have personally seen the distress that many of our people are faced with on a daily basis – sometimes struggling to pay the most basic of bills. Nothing can be gained by the further divide of the people into the haves and the have-nots,” writes Catron.

While the People’s Progressive Movement had not released its manifesto by press time for the Chamber Magazine, it did put out a report card on its progress in the past four years.

“The PPM recognizes that the economy must have a high priority because everything else depends on it,” the PPM wrote in its 2005 manifesto.

“…despite the challenging environment of the past four years, the evidence shows the PPM Government has done a generally excellent job of managing the economy,” states the report card.

Some of the party’s achievements include “kept the economy on a growth path where the output of goods and services, as measured by the Gross Domestic Product has increased every year; pursued an improved working relationship with the private sector through