As my term as president of the Chamber concludes, I look back on the last two years as challenging but time well spent. Although I hadn’t expected to step into the role of president in 2009, in hindsight the extra year gave some much needed stability to the Chamber leadership through what has been a demanding time for us all due to the world financial crisis and unchecked Government spending.
I started this year talking about the four I’s or the ‘engines for success’ – Investment, Innovation, Integration and Involvement. I think these words hold the key to our success, now more than ever and I have done my best to apply them throughout my service with the Chamber. I still believe that the future of Cayman depends on how we come together to address each of these areas in order to build a society that continues to create opportunities for our children. The Future of Cayman Forum, scheduled for 11 November, is an ideal time for us to put words into action.
We have worked hard to open dialogue with members of government regarding cost cutting and innovative revenue measures and for the most part we have been successful. Public sector reviews, broadening the revenue base of government, introducing new pillars of industry, reducing operating expenditure and creating public/private finance opportunities are all actions recommended by the Chamber at the beginning of 2009 and adopted as a part of the three-year strategic plan for government back in June. Our doors have always remained open to further discussions and will continue to do so. Balancing our budget is indeed a significant challenge but more than that we must distinguish between wants and needs and learn to live within our means.
Our strategic plan, developed back in 2008 for the 2009 Council was in response to our memberships’ concerns at a very different moment in time. Not many of the hardships that we face today were visible and a different government administration was in place. This meant that the council had to respond quickly to the changing needs of our membership, ensuring we were paying attention to the growing concerns of small businesses. We have worked hard to provide solutions and assistance in support of government, private business and the community as a whole. I believe that when we hand over to the 2011 Council in December we will be better positioned and equipped to move forward successfully.
As far as our key objectives for the year, you will have seen from our mid-term report that we are well on our way. Our new Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Centre is a major achievement in our list of accomplishments allowing for easier access and better services for our members. I am also pleased to see us opening as a visitors centre for tourists and would-be investors to our Islands. This will provide a new opportunity to highlight our tourism members and develop our organisation to play a more visible role in our country’s tourism product.
This year, more than ever, we have reached out to you, our members, so that we could carry your voice to government leaders as we confronted the major issues of balancing our nation’s budget, taxation, divestment of assets and the escalating cost of doing business. I invite and encourage you to continue to get involved with your Chamber and be heard. We are here to represent you and lead the way to a strong, fair and sustainable business climate. Large or small, your concerns are our concerns as we carry out our mission to support, promote and protect your business and the wider community. It has been a privilege to serve you as chamber president.