Today’s Editorial for May 13: A shot across the bow

Being in the media business, we are
well aware that most individuals, businesses and private sector associations
are hesitant to speak out publicly, especially if what they say can be
considered critical of the government.

It is therefore quite unusual to
see more than 100 individuals, businesses or private sector associations doing
just that in a paid-for full-page open letter to the government in yesterday’s
Caymanian Compass.

The names supporting the letter are
not only noteworthy because of their prominence in the Cayman Islands, but also
because they cross political party lines. It is quite clear that those
supporting the message contained in the letter aren’t doing it for political
reasons. Instead they are simply saying what they feel is necessary for Cayman
to return to prosperous times.

Much of what the letter recommends
has been stated before, either in the Miller Commission Report or other reports
conducted for the government. The letter urges the government to abandon the
idea of direct taxation and work toward reducing public expenditure and debt.

The letter calls for temporary
increases in import duties, the divestment of some government assets, an
immigration policy that encourages inward investment and consideration of
several other revenue-raising ideas.  It
also recommends an external efficiency review of the civil service and a review
of the entire public sector, with a shut-down of non-essential services.

What is perhaps most notable in the
letter is that it contains a thinly-veiled threat that basically says if the
government wants the continued support of the private sector, it needs to show
“the will and wisdom to make the tough choices”.

The current government has been
hesitant to make tough choices that would upset any large segment of the voting
population.  Although the government may
fear the wrath of voters in three years, it should fear just as much the warnings
of a united private sector. 

If the government loses the support
of those who drive commerce in the Cayman Islands, it won’t matter what else it
does or doesn’t do between now and May 2013 because it will, undoubtedly, be replaced
by those who do have the support of the private sector.