Today’s Editorial September 07: Opportunity knocking

Chamber of Commerce President Stuart Bostock made an interesting comment after he and other Chamber representatives met with government officials last week.

In speaking about the economic difficulties facing the Cayman Islands right now, Mr. Bostock noted that with great challenges come great opportunities. He said now is an ideal time to introduce novel approaches to new businesses and to reform the way in which the public sector operates.

It might be hard to imagine right now, but the current financial crisis might be just what the country needs. As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention, and if the financial crisis has taught us anything, it is that there is definitely a need for the Cayman Islands to reinvent itself.

Some of Cayman’s critics suggested last week that the reason the country has found itself in the current economic mess is that its revenue streams, without direct taxation, are unsustainable in the long run.

We vigorously disagree with that contention, but concede the Cayman Islands does need to reassess some of its revenue streams to ensure that it can get through times of economic downturn. But more importantly, the Cayman Islands must look at becoming efficient in all of its public spending, especially in terms of personnel, assets, and capital projects.

It should not take an economic downturn for the Cayman Islands to tighten its financial belt. The government, which is funded by the public, should be run in a fiscally responsible and transparent manner at all times.

Based on the recent comments of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Under Secretary of State Chris Bryant, the UK apparently doesn’t believe Cayman can control its spending and must resort to direct taxation to compensate.

We say it’s time for the government, with assistance from the private sector, to implement the kind of reforms in the public sector that prove the UK wrong.