Gov’t to raise fees

A spending plan described as a ‘bare bones budget’ calls for a significant number of fee increases as well as new fees on Cayman Islands businesses and residents this year.

Lawmakers unveil Cayman's new budget

Cayman Islands lawmakers unveiled a long-awaited new spending plan Friday in Legislative Assembly. Photo: Brent Fuller

Those fee increases range from charges on money transfers, to work permit fee hikes, to a range of operating charges on the financial services sector. The government expects to earn an additional CI $95 million in the current budget year from the new fees, and some $126 million in a full 12 month period.

The country’s budget year actually began on 1 July, but government had to use a temporary appropriation to get through the first four months of the fiscal year following the May elections.

“The government had to make the tough decision of imposing revenue measures during a difficult economic period,” Financial Secretary Ken Jefferson told the Legislative Assembly Friday morning during his budget presentation.

The combination of the new fees, plus some spending control measures in the civil service, is expected to bring the Islands back into compliance with legal principles of financial management, and hopefully keep Cayman from going back to the United Kingdom to seek approval for further borrowing.

Earlier this week, the UK did agree to let Cayman borrow CI $279 million to help it get through the year as long as certain conditions were met. Mr. Jefferson said Friday that government intended to borrow $275 million in the current budget year, mainly to pay of previous loans and fund major public construction projects.

Leader of Government Business McKeeva Bush, who will become the country’s first Premier when Cayman’s new constitution comes into effect on 6 November, said he refused to agree to any direct taxation despite UK overtures to do so.

“These are especially serious times, times that call on all of us to act with resolve,” Mr. Bush told the assembly Friday.

The country’s proposed budget contains projections of CI $562.2 million for core government revenues — that’s a large increase from the CI $528.2 million projected in the 2008/09 budget year; an estimate which the government did not come close to meeting.

However, Mr. Jefferson pointed out that no new fees were proposed in last year’s budget.

The fees and charges proposed to increase or appear for the first time this year include:

Work permit fees – These will be increased across all categories, expect for domestic helper permits. Fees for key employee and permanent residency applications will also be hiked, with government expected to earn CI $22.5 million for a full calendar year.

Import duties – A two per cent increase on all imports except those imports that are currently duty free. This will raise CI $16.5 million per full year.

Fees on money transfers – A two per cent fee will be charged on all remittances leaving the Cayman Islands through money transfer entities. Additional revenues from this measure are expected to earn CI $4.6 million in a full year.

Business premises fee – This new fee, which was not specified, will be an annual amount payable by the tenants of commercial properties. It’s expected to raise CI $6.5 million in a full 12 month period.

Banks and trust licences – Class A retail banking licences will increase from CI $400,000 to CI $600,000 per year, non-retail licences will cost CI $130,000 to CI $136,500 per year. Bank/Trust Class B licence fees would go from CI $57,000 per year to CI $60,000. Additional revenues of CI $2.2 million per year are expected here.

Insurance licences – Class A (local) licences will go from CI $30,000 to CI $50,000 per year, while approved external company licences will move from CI $40,000 to CI $50,000 per year. Both types of Class B insurance licence fees will change from CI $7,500 to CI $8,500 per year. Some CI $1.2 million is hoped to be collected each year from this measure.

Cigarette duty – Duty per 1,000 cigarettes is currently CI $52.50 and will increase to CI $105 per thousand cigarettes. This is expected to raise CI $700,000 per full year.

Package tax – The current tax of CI $1 per 100 pounds is proposed to go to CI $4 per 100 pounds. This is anticipated to earn CI $500,000 per year.

Annual company fees – Fees for resident, non-resident, exempt and foreign companies are proposed to increase between CI $150 and CI $500 a year. This is expected to increase government coffers by CI $17 million in a full year.

General registry fees – Various increases in certificates, certifications, express filings, new company registrations, and new company registrations will raise an estimated CI $7.2 million during a calendar year.

Mutual funds – Mutual funds annual licence fees will increase by CI $500 a year. This is expected to earn government an extra $4.4 million per year.

Security investment business fee – Fees for these businesses will go up by CI $2,500 per year, raising additional revenues of CI $7.9 million for a full year.

Environmental impact fee for used vehicles – All used cars imported that have a maximum cost, insurance and freight value of CI $12,000 will be charged a flat fee of CI $1,000 in addition to other import duties. This is expected to earn another CI $1.8 million per year.

Several other fees to increase include warehouse charges, tax and trust undertaking fees, patents and trademark registration charges, CIMA transaction fees and other miscellaneous fees.

Please read much more on this story in Monday’s editions of the Caymanian Compass….