Premier: Some Caribbean countries ‘excluded’ from development strategy

Cayman Islands Premier McKeeva Bush
told a United Nations roundtable last week that associate member states, like
the Cayman Islands, are being excluded from certain development assistance programmes
begun as part of the UN’s Mauritius Strategy.

The Mauritius Strategy is an
agreement that seeks to promote sustainable development in small island states
with an eye toward eradicating poverty and controlling debt levels.

The strategy also seeks to modify
and improve governance and consistency of international financial and trading
systems to help smaller island states participate in the decision-making
process for those industries.

Mr. Bush told the UN roundtable in
New York City on Friday that the next stage of the Mauritius Strategy’s
implementation should be making island states more competitive in world

“We believe this is the best way to
achieve the goals of the Mauritius Strategy,” he said.

“It is clear, however, that the
Mauritius Strategy for the Caribbean cannot be fully implemented if some
islands are excluded on political or constitutional grounds,” Mr. Bush said.
“We are just as vulnerable to hurricanes, earthquakes and sea level rise as our

Mr. Bush stressed that UN associate
member countries – like Cayman – had not been involved in most regional assistance
programmes offered. 

“We need to move away from
relationships based on post-colonial guilt, and trade preferences that has the
unintended effect of discouraging diversification and prolonging dependency,”
he said. “We need a new relationship between partners, based on mutual
interests and shared benefits.”

It would be difficult to implement
the UN strategy while the majority of Caribbean countries are still suffering
from the world economic recession, the premier said.

Mr. Bush told the UN roundtable
that the Cayman Islands was “committed to increasing efficiency and driving
down the cost (of) government”. He added that Cayman had developed a strong
financial services sector and was placing great importance and developing small
business and entrepreneurship.

The Cayman Islands was identified
last year in a UK-based report by consultant Michael Foot as one of the
overseas territories that could get into trouble if its successful but narrowly-based
economy started to falter, and the country was forced to take on more debt to
stay afloat.

The UK has threatened in the past
year to prevent Cayman from borrowing further unless it agreed to a short and
medium term plan to cut costs and balance the territory’s budget. Mr. Bush
presented a three-year budget reduction plan to the UK earlier this year which
identified general strategies for budget cuts and revenue enhancements over
that time frame.

As an overseas territory, the
Cayman Islands Legislative Assembly controls the country’s budget. However, if
it fails to stay within certain fiscal management guidelines the UK can assert
more control – up to and including taking over day-to-day financial management
of the government.

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