Today’s Editorial for April 27: Protectionism and the economy

In yet another example of a
government entity doing something contradictory to the official government policy
line, the Liquor Licensing Board of Grand Cayman has denied Jacques Scott from
being able to move a retail liquor licence from its South Church Street
location to a new complex it planned to build in West Bay.

The decision puts in doubt Jacques
Scott’s planned $3 million building that would have been constructed next to
Foster’s Food Fair Republix.

Among the reasons cited by
objectors to the licence relocation were that it would harm the existing liquor
retail businesses in West Bay, possibly increase crime in the district and
undermine morality.

The arguments would basically have
us believe that drinking white rum, beer and inexpensive wine from brown paper
bags purchased at established liquor retailers in West Bay – as happens now – has
no impact on crime and morality, but drinking a fine wine from one of the premier
liquor purveyors in the Cayman Islands would spread Hell to the entire
district.

Frankly, we don’t buy it.  This decision is protectionism, pure and
simple.

At a time when most building
contractors have laid off a good portion of their workforce, a decision that is
likely to halt a new construction project is not what Cayman needs.  

The new liquor store would have
added jobs for Caymanians, even if some work permit holders were also
needed.  Selling fine wine does in fact
take a level of knowledge and expertise not found in abundance here.

Premier McKeeva Bush has repeatedly
said he wants the government to do what is necessary to encourage development
and commerce to spur the economy. But yet again, a government entity is doing
the opposite.

Protectionist policies might be wonderful
for those protected, but it does nothing for all of those who might benefit
from construction activities, the convenience and better choice of a new store,
or from the additional jobs and commerce it could create.  If Cayman wants to truly be a free-market
economy, it must allow competition to flow where it wants, especially when
Local Companies Control Licences for foreign entities aren’t required.

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