Emergency Finance Committee requested

Independent legislator Ezzard
Miller is calling for an urgent Finance Committee meeting to address Cayman’s worsening
financial situation.

Mr. Miller has written to Premier
McKeeva Bush and Leader of the Opposition Kurt Tibbetts requesting the
committee, which examines and approves government expenditures and revenues, be
convened next week.

The government revealed last week
that its deficit was $73.1 million for the first half of this financial year,
with projections that at least $9 million would be cut from government
expenditure.

In a press conference on Wednesday
morning, Mr. Miller said it is not enough for Mr. Bush to announce expenditure
reduction measures such as a 20 per cent to MLAs’ salaries – they required
amendments to the specific line item in the Appropriations Law 2009.

He said that while he supported a
cut in MLA salaries and a 30 per cent to the Premier’s salary, “such changes to
the Appropriation Law 2009 cannot be done simply by [Premier Bush’s] statement
to the Legislative Assembly.

“It requires an amendment to the
line item in the Appropriation Law 2009, which reduces the amount of money
authorised by the appropriate figure – about $120,000 – for the four months
remaining the budget.”

He is calling for both political
parties, along with the chief officers of each government department, to attend
a meeting next week to examine the revised expenditures and revenues outlined by
the government.

However, Mr. Bush said he would not
agree to a Finance Committee meeting unless he felt it was necessary following
discussions with the UK and getting reaction from civil servants on proposed
cuts to salaries and expenditure.

“We cannot just sit down in the
Finance Committee and say this. We have to work with the Civil Service. If it
fails, I will call the Finance Committee together,” he said.

Mr. Bush disagreed with Mr.
Miller’s assertion that reducing MLA salaries could not be done without going
through the Finance Committee, saying those wages could be cut “with the
concurrence of the Governor and that is what I am doing”.

Mr. Bush was speaking after meeting
civil servants to discuss the Miller Report, demanded by the UK as a condition
for borrowing, to examine how spending in the Civil Service could be reduced.

The People’s Progressive Movement
would be willing to attend a Finance Committee meeting into government
spending, said PPM member Alden McLaughlin.

He said it is important that there is
bi-partisan representation in discussions with the UK, adding: “Whatever
happens, Finance Committee is critical. That is where we examine where we are
at the present time and what has been happening.”

Referring to October’s budget as
the “pretend budget”, he said the projections in that document had been proved
wrong. “Our concern is we in the country need to know the full picture of the
government’s recovery plan.”

Cutting civil servants’ salaries
without first going through the Finance Committee would mean that government
employees would have grounds to legally challenge those salary cuts in court,
Mr. Miller told reporters.

Under government Standing Orders,
at least seven MLAs need to sign a requisition asking for the Speaker of the
House to summon members to a special meeting. Without support from at least one
of the nine United Democratic Party members of the Legislative Assembly, the
meeting cannot be called.

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