Few people like change.
Caymanians over 30 have seen an
incredible amount of change in their lifetimes. Understandably, many are
resisting further change.
However, there are times when a
country comes to a crossroads where change is required. Rather than a true crossroads, where going
straight ahead is an option, Cayman has come to a ‘T’ intersection. Going back from where the country came is not
a realistic option, so Cayman must turn one way or the other.
Either way Cayman turns, it must
increase government revenues. The
country can no longer rely on the financial services industry to generate such
a high percentage of its revenue; it must find new sources.
In one direction, Cayman can turn
toward direct taxation, probably on income or payroll. Either one means reduced earnings for
residents, increased bureaucracy, and the loss of a key advantage Cayman has
over the competition in recruiting top talent from overseas.
In the other direction is an
investor-friendly environment that could bring money, development and many more
people to the Cayman Islands. It will also undoubtedly change the Cayman
Islands even more, especially when comparing it to the ‘land that time forgot’
of the no-so-distant past.
Cayman must choose whether it wants
to open its arms to more people, to new ideas like Sunday trading, later hours
for bars and nightclubs and gaming. It
has to decide if it will accept more projects like the proposed hospital and
cruise ship berthing piers, the development of marinas that involve dredging
the North Sound, and the relocation of the landfill somewhere else.
There are passionate advocates for
both directions Cayman can choose. There
are also significant consequences for choosing either direction.
The one thing that is not possible,
however, is the status quo. Doing nothing is the same as turning toward
taxation, which will change this country as permanently and dramatically as
developers could ever do.
It’s almost always better to make a
decision yourself than to have one made for you. As Premier McKeeva Bush enters into vital
budget discussions with the UK Tuesday, we hope he has done so with a resolute
decision made as to the direction Cayman will head.