Project hold ups delay economic recovery
In an address to the nation Monday
evening, Premier McKeeva Bush complained that many of his planned projects to
help the economy were bogged down in bureaucracy.
“If we are allowed to do the
government projects, people will have jobs; business will have money; government
will receive additional revenues, which will reduce the need to cut civil
service jobs,” he said, adding that the government needed to move quickly.
“What is stopping the government from moving
ahead on these projects is nothing but pure bureaucracy.”
Mr. Bush said the sewerage system
project would employ up to 1,000. He
said the cruise port would not only safeguard the cruise industry but bring
“The bureaucracy has taken nine
months to get us to this point but we have not yet gotten to the point of
starting the projects,” he said. “Not one bag of cement poured, not one hole
dug, not one cement blocked laid.
“People, it is time to start work,
but hurdles are constantly being put in the way.”
Mr. Bush did not single out any
part of the bureaucracy that was hindering progress, but instead spoke
generally of the problem.
“The government machinery,
government systems and government workers’ job is to ensure that work is done
to help people,” he said. “That is what government’s job is. But when people
are out of work and there is no money to do anything with, how are we going to
help our people get jobs and feed their families if their elected
representatives can’t do their jobs because of bureaucracy?”
Mr. Bush reiterated that government
expenditures were too high and had to be cut. He again outlined his proposal to
cut civil service pay, suspend their pension contributions and make them
contribute half of their health insurance premiums.
“I recognise that any cut in
salaries will hurt, but it is better than losing jobs,” he said. “Nevertheless,
I know that any cut will hurt all concerned.”
Mr. Bush asked the private sector
to help the civil service and the country.
He asked the supermarkets to give a 10 per cent reduction on their
grocery prices twice a month; he asked that CUC give a 10 per cent reduction in
electricity rates; he asked the Water Authority and the Water Company to give a
10 per cent reduction in water bills; he asked that banks cut interest rates;
he asked that Cayman Airways give a 20 per cent reduction on needed travel.
“Everyone needs to help at this
time; that is the way we can make some changes,” he said, adding that the
agitation of the Opposition meetings, petition and marches “will soon enough
attract more bad international press.”
Mr. Bush said the decision not to
sell the Office Accommodation Building will mean the government will run out of
money before the end of the financial year.
“We made the decision that there
will not be a divestment of the new Government Administration Building because
of the ruckus by the PPM,” he said, referring to the Opposition’s protest to
the sale and the planned march on the Glass House this Saturday.
“But this decision has adverse consequences.”
Mr. Bush said that in answering a
Parliamentary Question in Legislative Assembly on 3 March, his forecast that
there would be an operating bank balance of $21 million at the end of the
financial year was predicated on the divestment of the government
administration building. Without the
sale, government will run out of money.
“…The forecast Operating Bank Account balance…
of $21 million will decline significantly and become an overdraft balance of
approximately $38 million at 30th June 2010,” he said. “This materially exceeds
our present overdraft limit of $15 million.”
Mr. Bush also said the decision not
to divest the administration building would mean that government would need additional
funds in the next financial year.
“I estimate that due to the
non-divesture of certain public assets, the Government will need to borrow a
minimum of $112 million in the upcoming financial year, July 2010 to June 2011,
consisting of approximately $24 million to complete the new Government
Administration Building, $15 million on road-works that can be linked directly
to that building, and $73 million to complete the two new high schools,
according to the Ministry of Works.”
Mr. Bush said the decision not to
divest the administration building will cause a $97million reduction in the
government’s bank balance.
“Moreover, because the Government
cannot comply with all the Principles of Responsible Financial Management at
30th June 2010, the UK Government will, once again, have to give its approval
for the Cayman Islands Government to incur further borrowings or something like
taxation from the 1st July 2010 onwards.”
Mr. Bush warned about the
consequences of further borrowing.
“We already have loans totalling
half-a-billion dollars,” he said. “We
don’t know what the world conditions will be in the future. If we continue to borrow more money and add
to what we already owe, we probably would lose our triple “A” rating. A
possible devaluation of our currency would be no different than have happened
to other countries. These are the
detriments that we must consider when talking about more heavy borrowing.”