With the ink barely dry on May’s election results, lawmakers are already discussing moving Cayman’s next election date to November 2012.
Generally, any newly elected government would be given four years in office, which in this case would take the current group through to May 2013.
But that four-year period is not set in stone. It’s up to the United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Cayman’s governor to actually set an election date following consultation with Legislative Assembly members.
The reason for moving the election date seems to be more practical than political.
The results of this year’s elections, known by the early morning of 21 May, came just more than a month before the end of the Cayman Islands’ budget year on 30 June.
That doesn’t leave the incoming government enough time to draw up a new spending plan, and an interim plan has been required to get the country through the first few months.
The government has proposed a CI $573.6 million spending and borrowing plan to last the country from 1 July to 31 October.
‘I don’t think any of us are comfortable voting such a large sum for four months,’ North Side MLA Ezzard Miller said. ‘I have concerns that we are setting ourselves up here and voting blindly.’
Mr. Miller, who proposed the change in election date on Friday, said he hoped the current government would be ‘bold enough’ to make the change.
Interim budgets were fairly commonplace in Cayman until 2003, when the government changed its January to December budget year to a July through June year. The idea was that moving the budget process to April and May would give a newly elected government enough time to settle in following their election in November.
‘But because of Hurricane Ivan (in September 2004) we moved the election to May, and we’re right back to zero,’ Mr. Miller said.
Education Minister Rolston Anglin said Friday that the ruling United Democratic Party government is well aware of the problem caused by the current election date.
‘It is nigh on impossible to have the type of clarity (elected) members might require,’ Mr. Anglin said.
The minister said one of the two dates, either the election, or the government’s fiscal year would need to change.
Mr. Anglin said he thought there was little chance of altering government’s budget year as occurred in 2003.
‘That is a massive undertaking,’ he said.
However, he acknowledged that the UDP members are not likely to support any shortening of their term.
‘For anyone who is newly elected, 2012 is not very attractive because that’s only three and a half years,’ Mr. Anglin said. ‘We’ve had these arguments before.’
In 2006 and 2007, the previous People’s Progressive Movement government and then-opposition UDP sought to move the election date back to November. However, the UDP wanted the election moved to November 2008, and the PPM wanted it in November 2009.
Since neither side could agree, the UK left the date in May 2009.