The Chamber of Commerce held its annual legislative luncheon last week before a packed audience of about 250 people, who came to hear about the new United Democratic Party government’s plans for its first 100 days and beyond.
In his keynote address, Leader of Government Business McKeeva Bush stressed the importance of a national effort to deal with the tough economic times and the worrying state of public finances. Mr. Bush said the challenge demanded a ‘truly national effort’ involving the government, the opposition, the private sector business entities and every citizen and resident of the Cayman Islands.
Conspicuously absent from the luncheon, however, was any member of the opposition. At previous Chamber of Commerce legislative luncheons held during the People’s Progressive Movement administration, the opposition UDP would send at least one member to represent the other side of the elected government.
While we can understand why it might be difficult for a recently ousted administration to show up in force for an event which highlights the plans of a new government, it is still disappointing that the PPM couldn’t be bothered to send a single representative of their party.
The Chamber of Commerce, after all, is not a political organisation. Its members, some of whom are undoubtedly PPM supporters, serve a key function in the economic prosperity of the Cayman Islands. By not sending even one elected member to the legislative luncheon, the PPM snubbed more than just its political rivals: it snubbed the members of the Chamber of Commerce.
During the course of the luncheon, Chamber of Commerce President Stuart Bostock commented on the rocky relationship the organisation has had with Mr. Bush in the past. But Mr. Bostock vowed the Chamber was committed to build a positive and proactive relationship with the new government. Mr. Bush accepted Mr. Bostock’s olive branch, and invited the Chamber to form a committee to suggest measures its membership thinks could help address Cayman’s financial challenges.
Mr. Bush is correct in saying the recovery from the current economic situation will require a national effort. Everyone does need to work together, and certainly the Chamber of Commerce can play a key role in that effort.
The opposition also has a key role to play. It’s time the elected PPM representatives brush the dirt off their metaphorical britches after the election loss and step up and start doing their job. That job includes attending important private sector events such as the Chamber of Commerce’s legislative luncheon.
The PPM might not be the government anymore, but its members are still paid a hefty sum to represent us.