This is the second in a series of interviews highlighting the people involved in the Future of Cayman economic development initiative. This quarter we review the driver Build a Smarter Infrastructure and interview co-chairs, Tristan Hydes, Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of District Administration, Works, Lands & Agriculture and Colin Reid, Chief Operations Officer & Chief Financial Officer, Bodden Holdings Ltd.
Q: In your opinion what makes the Future of Cayman different from other economic development initiatives?
The Future of Cayman initiative aligns the public and private sector to discuss and review issues and to confirm strategies to improve our Islands so that we remain competitive and attractive jurisdiction for residents to live and local and international investors to conduct business. Communities around the world have undertaken similar initiatives and have produced outstanding results. When the public and private sectors align their priorities limited resources can be better utilised. This initiative attempts to remove individual thinking and encourages various groups to build relationships, share information, speak openly and honestly about available resources, identify priorities and act responsibly and effectively to tackle the main issues confronting our Islands.
Can you explain the process and rationale underpinning the Future of Cayman initiative?
Five drivers were identified as essential for Cayman’s ongoing and future success: Build a Smarter Infrastructure, Enhance our Quality of Life, Develop Talent, Create a Business Friendly Climate and Diversify our Economy. Representatives from government, private sector and community organisations were assigned to a specific group relating to that particular area of focus. Two co-chairs, one private sector, one public sector, assist the group in their discussions as they sought to identify achievable objectives and actions which were then submitted to the Future of Cayman Steering Committee for review. Once approved, the final report will be presented to the Chamber Council and Cabinet for consideration. Once accepted, the report will be implemented by each of the five driver groups. Each group will meet regularly and form the necessary subcommittees to achieve the objectives and actions identified in each plan.
Q: What was the agreed strategic intent of the infrastructure group?
As we look to Cayman’s future needs and development in support of our economic pillars, we must examine the infrastructural investments in areas, notably, transportation, ports, airport, water, communications, waste management, energy and building technologies to ensure that these investments are cost effective and sustainable.
What were the two main objectives to be identified during your group discussions?
Develop a National Infrastructure Plan – Most people would agree that gone are the days when we could build now and think later. We are all much more aware of the impact on our environment and economy. There is only a certain amount of natural resources left for our use and we must think carefully about how we allow them to be used. We need to identify and prioritise a list of major infrastructure projects and confirm funding sources and timelines. To support this, legislation will need to be put in place allowing for best practices to expedite infrastructure development such as public private partnerships. We will need to support the establishment of segregated infrastructural funds and advocate that a fair share of the public infrastructure funds go to support programmes that create opportunities for our local contractors. Confirming a national infrastructure plan will encourage local and international investment that will generate jobs and opportunities for Caymanian businesses and residents.
Invest in critical infrastructure – The recession has forced us to reevaluate our economy in an increasing competitive global market – it is therefore vital that our basic infrastructure is current, attractive and efficient. The airport and the port need improvement and modernisation taking into account any possible environmental impact that we should at first consider. In addition to being perceived as a first class destination for visitors and investors we will need to commit funds to the processes of our waste management and sustainable energy systems. Communications continue to be paramount as an increasing emphasis is placed on digital networks and growing knowledge based economies. Communication frameworks and technology are evolving and will need to keep pace with global trends as we see information sharing becoming far more prevalent in the year ahead.
Q: What are the next steps for your driver group?
As co-chairs of the Build a Smarter Infrastructure driver group we are charged with encouraging our group members to achieve the agreed action items. With representatives from the Ministry of District Administration, Lands, Works & Gender Affairs, National Roads Authority, Cayman Association of Architects, Surveyors & Engineers, Cayman Contractors Association, Caribbean Utilities Company Ltd., Port Authority, Water Authority, Cayman Water, Information & Communications Technology Authority, Ministry of Health, Environment, Youth, Sports and Culture and Cayman Islands Investment Council we have the right experts and the right decision makers to get things done. We will keep everyone on task and be there for support and advice as we seek to turn our objectives into reality. A website is currently being developed to keep the public up-to-date with our progress.
Q: Do you see the Future of Cayman as a sustainable proposition?
Absolutely! If everyone does what they have agreed to do then it will not only be sustainable but it will be a very powerful and effective resource for our country. Private and public sector representatives are coming together for the greater good of our Islands. We have formulated a plan and strategy for putting the right things in place for an agreed outcome of success and prosperity in all five key areas.