US customs pre-clearance explored
Leader of Government Business McKeeva Bush revealed some of the policies his government intends to implement to stimulate Cayman’s economy in his policy address on Budget Day on Friday.
Among the new initiatives is a $1.1 million works programme for the unemployed which will begin November 1 and continue until mid-December.
The programme is a clean-up plan in which people in each district will be hired to paint public buildings and do roadside cleanups.
There are also plans for Cayman Airways to fly directly from Miami to Cayman Brac. Mr. Bush said he hoped this would create ‘a boost to the Brac, and we hope to tourism in general’.
To further boost tourism, Mr. Bush said the government is looking at establishing a US Immigration and Customs pre-clearance in Cayman and is also planning to set up a tourism task force to establish a national brand.
He also announced that the government had budgeted $400,000 to pay sub-contractors who claim they were left out of pocket when the Matrix scrap metal contract was abandoned.
Mr. Bush touched repeatedly in his speech on crime, stating: ‘…we all have felt, more and more often in recent years, that pall of fear that settles over the whole community when there is some outrageous act of violence; and it seems to get thicker the more it happens.’
He said that until integrated national planning could be implemented, the government would reinforce neighbourhood policing programmes and begin a border control and security programme to help combat crime.
The Community Development Unit would be re-established and each district would be provided with purpose-built facilities for the elderly.
Mr. Bush said there would be restrictions on the use of government vehicles and cell phones; a moratorium on the hiring of government staff; a restriction on overtime and a reduction in overseas travel and rental expenditure.
With regards to infrastructure, he said the government would develop a traffic and transportation plan and publish a new road code, and tackle flooding at Cumber Avenue and Randyke Gardens – areas that have faced repeated flooding over the years.
He announced plans to set up a Public Health Department to help people make lifestyle changes and a Mental Health Task Force to examine mental health needs.
A review of the government’s insurance company CINICO to improve service and cost savings will also be carried out.
Mr. Bush said the National Conservation Law would again undergo public review and consultation. The bill had been expected to be brought before the Legislative Assembly before the election in May, but did not do so.
He said Cayman would also draw up a Climate Change Policy ‘to evaluate and plan for mitigation and adaptation to the possible impacts of climate change’.