Former Tourism Minister Charles
Clifford has raised some crucially important issues in his letter released to
the press last week regarding the direction the Cayman Islands is taking in its
business and immigration practices.
We are of the fervent hope that
discussions on these matters will not only take place in a public protest
outside the Glass House, but that they will be weighed amongst members of the
government, in consultation with the public, in open and honest forums over a
period of the next several months.
We also hope that pertinent
questions and actual facts are used to support the debate; not merely the
political rhetoric and anecdotes that so often pervade these types of
For instance, Premier McKeeva Bush
has suggested that the creation of a special committee to assist the financial
services industry will help speed along work permit applications and encourage
businesses to remain in Cayman.
However, no one, including the
opposition party, has bothered to specifically question how the addition of yet
another government-appointed committee is going to speed up any process, much
less an already board-laden immigration system.
Mr. Clifford, in his press release,
estimates that 9,000 people in the financial services industry (as well as
other industries including tourism, government and real estate) would be
receiving key employee status.
On what “estimates” is Mr.
Clifford’s statement based? What data was used, if any, to arrive at these
Politically-charged statements –
endlessly repeated by contributors to political party forums or on quasi-news
blogs – often bring quite a bit of heat to a particular issue. But that heat
tends to generate very little light.
Mr. Clifford has started the ball
rolling on what are, by all accounts, critical national issues.
Perhaps we are naïve to believe
that this time discussions will not become bogged down in political rhetoric
playing on the fears of a populace that has been kept in the dark about the
facts by successive governments.
Or will we witness yet another
attempted power-grab by ousted politicians who want a second bite at the May
2009 election apple?