Editor’s note: The following is the full text of a statement
released Thursday by Cayman Islands Premier
McKeeva Bush. The statement is in response to a position paper issued by the
opposition party earlier in the week.
“We could not address the problems
of the country in a detailed written document outside of our manifesto during
the campaign as the PPM hid the truth from the country regarding the state of
public finances and total expenditure. All matters that reached ‘the light of
day’ were thoroughly discussed and we developed plans to address them, however
these were very few items.
“The fact that we sat down with the
FCO who wanted us to put in income tax and property tax and the fact that we
said no to that; and that we said we wanted the opportunity to address the
problems left by the PPM in an already worsening world wide economic downturn;
and no business started in the country to bring in revenue, meant that we had
to take time to develop plans and to bring business in which the PPM failed to
“The sad and hard cold facts are
that my government is now in a salvage operation mode designed to take the
country out of the grips of wasteful PPM expenditure. We had no alternative but
to raise additional revenue by increasing various fees rather than by income
tax or property tax. It is obvious from the latest financial information that
those measures are starting to work. I have said that when we turn the economy
around we will look at reducing fees. We have reiterated this fact many times,
including the day we put the fees in place.
“All along, the PPM knew what our
plan was, as did the FCO. That was to repair the two basic pillars of the
economy, finance and tourism. We had to address certain vexing issues
surrounding immigration which were negatively impacting our competitive position
in the Financial Services arena. Let us
not forget that we worked hard in the first few months after the General Elections
to get us off the OECD grey list, which PPM mismanagement caused the country to
get onto in the first place!
“We have said publicly that we are
cutting expenditure. I made the first move by saying that legislators’ salaries
must be cut. The civil service is now working on the methodology on how to
effect personnel cost reductions. The Government has provided a target amount
of expenditure that they must live within.
“The FCO clearly understands where
we are going. They might not have agreed with us in the beginning, but for us
to have agreed with them would have meant income and property tax. I was adamant that that would not be done.
“What the PPM needed to tell the
country was their specific plan to get us out of the mess that they created.
“They cannot expect the public to
believe that after four years at the helm they are not in a position to speak
based on fact! They are playing games
and politicizing this most serious national issue!
“What they should have said is what
to do regarding finding the money to finish the new schools and the new
government administration office building that they started; what to do about
the additional $340 million in loans that they left behind; what to do about
the significant increase in civil servants that they caused; what to do about
getting the financial industry back on track (which was neglected under their
watch); and what to do about getting the tourism industry back on track (which
declined under their watch).
“The PPM know the mess that they
made and that’s why the people voted them out.
“We have a credible plan. Things
are moving in the right direction. It might be slowly, but I will get the
country out of this situation. I am
asking the people to be patient as we will not get out of this mess in a
day! It will take years of hard work but
my Government is committed to rescuing our beloved Cayman
Islands from the perilous state left by the PPM.”