Today’s Editorial for June 29: Asking businesses too much

A
recent Chamber of Commerce survey of more than 200 businesses here revealed
what most of us already know: the economy here still stinks.

Also
in the survey, business owners stated they were being hindered by bureaucracy
and high fees for work permits. In addition, the survey found that the
25-cents-per-gallon increase on import duty for fuel will hurt local business
further.

The
truth is, times are extremely tough for almost all businesses in the Cayman
Islands and it’s going to be a long, hard summer.  Several businesses have already gone under
and more are sure to follow.

In
this backdrop, Premier McKeeva Bush begged local businesses to absorb the
additional costs from the increase in fuel duty last week.

Obviously,
there is a disconnect between the government on one side and local business
owners on the other side, otherwise Mr. Bush wouldn’t dare raise such an issue,
especially now. What this indicates, however, is that the government still
thinks the private sector can, and perhaps even should, bear the brunt of the
economic crisis. 

For
far too long, successive governments have shielded individuals – particularly
voters and civil servants – from the consequences of unbridled government
spending over the years.  Well… the
private sector well is dry.  Businesses
can’t take the hit any longer, and it might be that they need help from
government just to survive. 

If
businesses don’t create the commerce necessary to stimulate the economy, not
only will the current financial crisis linger on, but the government won’t
reach its revenue projections, leading to a domino effect of consequences.  One way or the other, it will be the residents
of this island who feel those effects, either through lost jobs, lower
earnings, or higher consumer prices. 

As
we have stated before, we in no way support the imposition of direct taxation
in the Cayman Islands, particular income or payroll taxes.  But we fully realise that individuals are
going to have to help bear the cost of the economic recovery.

It’s
a little disconcerting to see that the government is still denying this basic
premise.

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