It may be the understatement of the
year to say the budget-making process the Cayman Islands government is about to
embark upon is not ideal.
Assuming – and it is a big “if” at
this stage – the UK and Cayman come to some workable solution on government’s
three-year spending plan, lawmakers will have a bit less than two weeks to
finalise the budget for the year that begins 1 July.
They will have to overcome the
following, among other issues:
An operating deficit of CI$50
million, possibly more in the current year; a burgeoning public sector debt
reaching more than $500 million now and likely well above that if the UK
approves new borrowings; plummeting revenues despite fee increases on local
businesses; a disillusioned government service that’s having its pay cut and
which has spent the last nine months getting slapped around in the press – by
pretty much everyone.
This is task enough. It is sure to
be made harder by the tiresome gamesmanship between lawmakers working long
hours and seeking to apply blame to the other guy as much as possible.
This is politics. It is unavoidable.
We are not so naïve as to suggest the two sides – as well as Mr. Miller from
North Side – call a temporary truce.
But it behoves both UDP and PPM to
play their respective and important roles in the budget process to the utmost
and make every moment count.
The government must be transparent
and honest with its budget numbers. It should strive to lay them out in a way
the general public can accept and understand. It should provide the opposition
and the independent member, as well as the press, with as much information as
The opposition should do its
homework, dig deep, and ask good questions. Perhaps occasionally reminding the
government that’s why the opposition is there.
The more constructive work, the
better. The more time spent on sandlot politricks, the more torpedoes fly into
the side of the sinking Good Ship Cayman.