Premier won’t meet marchers

Cayman Islands Premier McKeeva Bush
will not meet with a group of anti-government protesters when they march in a
demonstration against his administration’s policies on 6 March.

Protest organiser, former
government Minister Charles Clifford, has demanded that political leaders meet
with the marchers at 3.30pm on 6 March in front of the government
administration building.

If officials declined, Mr. Clifford
said he would start the process of petitioning for a referendum to remove the
current administration from office. The ruling United Democratic Party was
elected by Cayman Islands voters on 20 May, 2009. 

Premier Bush said during a public
meeting Tuesday night in George Town that the March demonstration was purely
politically motivated and that he wouldn’t be there.

“They believe the government is
vulnerable, and that’s why they are taking to the streets,” Mr. Bush told a
group of about 250 supporters outside the courthouse Tuesday.

“They have said they are going to
march and I must come out there and meet them on the 6th. I must
come out there and meet them? Hold their breath.

“I will not go out there and meet
that bunch of rabble-rousers, because if they meant any good they would have
come forward and put their plans on the table.”

Mr. Bush said that if the
opposition People’s Progressive Movement party wished to push for a referendum
they were free to do so. However, he said it would do little to assist Cayman
in troubling economic times.

“What good will it do the country?”
Mr. Bush asked. “With the world watching us and waiting to spread bad news
about us…this is no time to show unrest.”

Mr. Clifford and other top PPM
officials have harshly criticised several plans made by the United Democratic
Party government, including proposals to sell off certain government assets and
to relax immigration rules for the financial services industry.

Premier Bush said Tuesday that,
given the choice between selling government assets and laying off “$70 million
worth of civil servants,” he would choose the former option.

“No building is going to be sold or
business of the government sold that we can’t have a share in, or that we can’t
own back in years to come if that is necessary,” he said.

Mr. Bush has previously said the
proposed sales of the government office accommodation project and the country’s
sewerage system needed to happen before mid-April to help balance the country’s
budget.

He also hit back at critics of the
current government’s immigration policies, claiming that some 4,000 permanent
residence grants had been handed out to foreign nationals residing in Cayman between
mid-2005 and mid-2009 when the People’s Progressive Movement was in power.

However, during that time,
government only approved one permit for a foreign national who wished to come
to Cayman as an investor and entrepreneur, Mr. Bush said.

“We have to encourage inward
investment,” he said.

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