Editorial for 10 March: Bleak choices for economy

Listening to talk radio and reading online forum comments,
it seems many are against every one of the proposed projects that could breathe
life into Cayman’s shrinking economy. 

If it’s not the potential adverse environmental impacts
people are against, it’s the fact that the projects might bring in too many
expatriates, make Cayman more of a concrete jungle than it already is, or
disadvantage current Caymanian business owners.

Some people have a problem with giving foreign developers
any fee-waiver incentives, or even for foreign investors to make profits when
funding infrastructure projects.

We firmly believe everyone is entitled to an opinion and
that they should have a right to express that opinion publicly. However,
constantly just objecting to every project suggested isn’t productive. If
people are against the proposed projects, we’d like to hear their alternative
ideas for getting Cayman back on the road to success.

It’s true that through increases in fees and the reduction
of spending, the government’s financial standing has significantly improved
over the past year. But these measures have put pressures on businesses,
increased unemployment, halted some necessary government infrastructure
projects and chased jobs to other jurisdictions. This is simply not sustainable
over the long term and Cayman’s shrinking population is proof of that.

One option is to reduce the size of the civil service,
putting many Caymanians out of jobs, or reducing pay of civil servants. Few
support that. Another option is to implement income tax to fund the government
budget. Few people support that and if that were to come to pass, you can bet
that many more businesses and expatriate workers would take their talents
elsewhere; being disenfranchised in a place that also taxes income is not
something most expatriates would accept.

So what is Cayman to do? Everyone wants the good times to
roll again in Cayman, but for that to happen, something has to happen. Before
people jump on a ‘we’re against this’ bandwagon, they really should be prepared
to say just which of the bitter pills available they would be willing to accept
instead.

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5 COMMENTS

  1. OK – some ideas that have merit; What about a hotel management school that could bring in students from all over? What about a trade school to teach our Caymanians crafts and skills that are not just about banking and construction? (Caymanians are quite artistic and have proven that.) What about starting with smaller projects that are necessary as in the weather station – and things that Cayman is suited for with the weather we have that will bring people in to study, things like solar energy, wind study? And look how well the locally grown food is doing. Why does everything have to be over the top in terms of expectation and environmental destruction?

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  2. This is an excellent and well put article, hopefully everyone will read it with an open mind.

    While I believe most suggestions will have merit, unfortunately Cayman is in a situation where they have to make a lot of money in a short period of time. And one of the biggest issues is that theres no money to fund these new projects as well as no Direct Tax income coming in to build up funding for large lucrative projects such as Enterprise City. So Cayman has to look outside for investors and the fact is that if people are going to invest a great deal of Capitol into a business, they expect to make a profit, after all thats what business is all about. Can anyone say to themselves that they would invest their good hard earned cash into a business that will have no return on their investment? I think not, so who would expect anyone else to.

    This is why the government is offering large investors nice deals with fee breaks and the such, because they are trying to lure new business to Cayman, so the Cayman will benefit from the new opportunities that will be created.

    Small projects would also be great, but have to be sustainable and highly profitable or youll end up with another Turtle Farm that constantly costs the government money. The idea of a Hotel Management School sounds like a great ideas, but how much would it really bring in, most people from outside Cayman arent going to bear the cost of going to school for Hotel Management in another country, when in places such as the US theres Hotel Management schools in just about every city. And how many Caymanians are actually going to be willing to pay tuition. Again this will be something that would require a lot of government subsidies which unfortunately they cannot afford. But with money made from new businesses
    they may be able to down the line along with Financial Aid for Caymanians that wish to pursue this as a career.

    I have a few ideas Id like to throw out there, and hopefully there will be plenty more coming in from the people.

    The East End Sea Port, which I happen to think is a good idea, but I do not see why it has to come so far inland, maybe they should push Imparato to explore the possibility of making the port right at the edge or the water, couldnt the dock be built right on the Iron Shore instead of cutting so far inland.

    How about a daily North Sound Ferry service like from Rum Pint to George Town or West Bay Road, for folks who work in town and live on the east end and north side, this would bring in money and cut down traffic. It could even head up to West Bay and maybe make a few stops while traversing the Sound. New businesses like Park and Rides and coffee shops could pop up from this.

    An underwater attraction such as an Underwater Hotel like the Poseidon Underwater resort in Fiji, check out their website http://www.poseidonresorts.com/poseidon_main.html. Im sure this would be a favorite to plenty of folks as well as an income generator but doesnt have to on such a large scale as the Poseidon.

    A resort with villas out on the water, you can check out some place like this at http://www.overwater-bungalows.com/resorts-hotels.php. Im sure these would be a hit to tons of people, since theres nothing else like it in the area. Imagine diving off your deck into the water for a swim or even fishing off your deck.

    Just a few to get everyones minds rolling, lets all put some energy into offering great environmentally friendly ideas and maybe someone will listen.

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  3. Good article

    There is definitely a vocal and binkered minority who are against anything that is proposed.

    Equally however there are a few startling suggestions coming from the Government.

    The Hon Properties enterprise zone is a great idea, with tangible benefits for the Islands as a whole and close to zero cost. The sea port is worthy of consideration but hedged with suspicions that the developer really only wants to be a miner. The oil refinery is just stupid.

    Cayman needs to maximise what it has and diversify carefully and sensibly. I am afraid 20,000 Caymanians will never make a functioning economy by themselves – if you want the standard of living you are used to you have to accept that expatriates are an unavoidable part of the package and stop trying to drive them out.

    Cayman has a great tourism industry but it is overly reliant on cruise ships and does not get the most out of the long term visitors that could be encouraged to come here. That needs a hard look at why visiting Cayman is so expensive.

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  4. To NJ2, look at how many people the law school has brought in from other countries. A hotel management school would have to be a good one and recognized by hotels like the Ritz but a lot of people (in the Caribbean for one) would love to go to an acredited school in the Cayman Islands. And it would be a good opportunity for Caymanians as well –

    And hasnt St. Matthews brought people in?

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  5. I do believe that a hotel management school would be a great opportunity for Caymanians and would no doubt bring folks in, I just didnt think it would be that lucrative at a time when the Government need to bring in a lot of capitol without having to put much money out. Projects like Enterprise City offer tons of opportunities to Cayman and wouldnt cost the Government money because of outside investor. This is the type of business Cayman needs at this point. This will in turn create capitol for things like a Hotel Management School that Caymanians could take advantage of.

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