Today’s Editorial for January 13: When it rains, it pours

There’s an old saying that when it rains, it pours.

On the front page of today’s newspaper, we have both figurative and literal examples of this saying.

First in the story about the 2009 rainfall, we have the literal example of the saying. After eight months of what was shaping up as the driest year on record, the heavens opened up and gave Grand Cayman more than 36 inches of rain in a little over three months. Especially in the month of October, it didn’t just rain, it poured.

But also on the front page is a story about gasoline prices going up. In combination with the increase in consumer goods caused by a hike in import duties and increases in a host of government fees, the added expense of higher fuel costs – which affect gasoline and electricity rates – seems like pouring on the budgets of many Cayman Islands residents.

With the Cayman Islands still experiencing the effects of a global recession, this isn’t a good time for a downpour of price increases. However, that is exactly what residents here are facing.

This all means that frugality will remain an important philosophy for many businesses and individuals in 2010.

On an individual basis, being frugal doesn’t mean you have to give up everything you love. It does, however, mean giving up something, which requires prioritisation. In other words, people will have to make choices based on what they need, what they want and what they can afford.

Interestingly though, it almost seems as if the public service sector believes it doesn’t have to abide by some of the most fundamental budgetary rules. Yes, the government has produced a budget that would be balanced if it meets certain revenue projections, but what if – as it is widely expected – those projections prove overly optimistic?

The one thing that better not happen is for the government to pour on more costs on businesses and residents, while the public service carries on as if it’s still a sunny day in the Cayman Islands.