Editor’s note: The following is the full text of the speech that Premier Bush gave to the country Monday regarding the state of the Cayman Islands two years into his government’s term.
“My fellow Caymanians and all those who call
these Islands home….
“As your Premier, I have pledged an open and
transparent Government. This is
why, as I approach the middle of this term of office, I am taking the time to
report to you this evening.
“I am pleased to say that, since assuming office
two years ago, my Government has substantially accomplished our first two key
1. restoring investor confidence as a means to
securing new investments into these Islands; and
2. eliminating our budget deficit.
“Our success in attaining the first of these two
key landmarks in the Government’s platform is greatly satisfying. Not only are these new investments
substantial, but they are also a perfect fit for Cayman’s existing professional
infrastructure. In fact, they are
set to develop into that elusive third pillar of our economy, taking its place
alongside the financial services and tourism sectors.
“I speak in particular of the Special Economic
Zone, phase 1 of which begins in January 2012. By the completion of this
three-year project, we anticipate creation of some 5,000 direct and 2,000
“We have also agreed to another $2 billion
project, also previously announced, to include a hospital, medical university,
and assisted-living facility.
“Construction begins later this year on the
first phase, valued at some 100 million dollars, to be completed 18 months from
“I have secured commitments that, for all of
these construction jobs, Caymanians will be given first choice in hiring. So watch the local media for
information on these construction jobs.
“In addition to job creation, this new hospital
is directly targeting the medical tourism niche market.
“Approximately 1.3 million Americans, projected
to increase annually by 35%, are expected to seek medical care outside of the
United States this year.
“All of this will obviously bring great
dividends for the tourism sector, with spin-offs to other areas. Our tourism sector — restaurants,
hotels, taxi drivers, and so on — is already preparing for increases in air
“Tourism, in fact, is already experiencing a
remarkable turnaround. At third quarter last year, air arrivals had risen by
5.4%; cruise passengers had also increased, by 3.3%.
“Compare this with what was happening in 2009:
air arrivals had declined by 10.2% and cruise arrivals by 2.1%.
“Clearly the economy is rebounding.
“This is why it has been so important for us to
get that new docking facility:
time is money, and if we operate inefficiently at the point of entry of
goods that will have a knock-on effect down the line. The opposite is true —
higher efficiency means greater productivity.
“For you the public, it will mean more money in
your pocket, more bread on your table, and greater resources to realize the
quality of life we would all like you to have.
“So you see, the Government obviously had to
prioritize these projects – they were essential to restarting the economy.
“Another key sign of this economic resurgence is
the improvement of the government’s financial position, albeit small, demanded
by my government for this financial year ending in June.
“As many of you will recall, my Government had
inherited a Deficit of 81 million dollars for the year ended 30 June 2009.
the end of our first year of Administration – the fiscal year that ended 30
June 2010 – the unaudited results for Central Government’s performance showed a
Deficit of 13.3 million dollars whilst the Statutory Authorities and
Government-Owned Companies had a net Deficit of $1.5 million – for a combined
Entire Public Sector Deficit of approximately $15 million. This is a
substantial improvement from the previous Administration’s “parting gift” to
the country of a Deficit of 81 million dollars.
“Given all our circumstances, it is truly
remarkable that we can now even think about achieving a Surplus. — thanks be to God.
“For the 8-month period to February 2011, the
Central Government’s results indicated an unaudited actual Surplus of 13
million Surplus dollars. As you
may now be aware, there was a revised projection of late that the Government
could end the present fiscal year with a five million dollar Deficit.
“It is completely unacceptable to me that in
February we achieved an unaudited actual Surplus of 13 million dollars and,
with four months to go in the budget year, we could end up with a Deficit
result. I am not accepting a
Deficit in the last four months of the year having had a Surplus of 13 million
dollars for the 8-month period to February 2011.
“I have instructed the Civil Service to spend
money only on the most vital of necessities. If they spend unnecessarily the
Treasury will not honor it.
“I’ve issued instructions to revise the current
budget so as to eliminate the previously-forecasted deficit.
“It should be remembered that the original
forecast for the 2010-2011 budget was for Central Government to have a deficit
of 30 million dollars. When all
factors are taken into consideration, we have still done an excellent job of
stabilizing the Government’s financial affairs compared to the 81 million
dollar Deficit that we found when we took office almost two years ago.
“We now are pressing forward to driving those
shovels into the ground, to get as many people as possible back to work, along
with the spinoff benefits across our economy.
“And that will
“But what a transformation we have already
achieved. When we took office and
uncovered the truth of our economic predicament, we found ourselves in the vice
of the UK’s Constitutional oversight role. We had to resolutely resist the dark
shadow of direct income and/or property tax.
“We escaped all of these risks — and we are
getting through these difficult times in reasonably good shape.
“True, we had to tighten our belts, particularly
in the civil service, and we had to raise some fees. However, those measures helped to sustain us through the
darkest nights of this world-wide recession.
“Of course, we are not yet out of the woods
economically, but we have stabilized the situation.
“In addition, while we worked at restarting the
local economy, we took some time to assess the needs of the International
Financial Services sector. The top priority was to remove Cayman from the
OECD’s “grey” list. Achieving
that, Cayman is now fully recognized internationally.
“Externally there are also positive signs. Daily we see news reports of the US
economic recovery. Historically,
given our proximity to the US, we will follow suit, in short order.
“Unfortunately, human nature is such that the
very indicators of our success become a cause for alarm for those who would
like to be where we are.
“I am not saying that you have not been hurting.
I know that – which is why I have been working so hard. At the same time, we have been trying on a personal level to
take care of as many people as we humanly could. The reality is, however, that we just can’t help everyone on
an individual basis.
“Nevertheless, it is usually better to teach a
man to fish than to feed him. As
such, despite the problems we inherited – unemployment, increasing crime, the
world financial crisis – we have halted the downward slide, we have stabilized
the situation, and now we are re-starting our economic assent.
“Moreover, now that we are on a more stable
course, we will be applying our energies to addressing the second tier of
priorities. Now we can broaden our
reach in addressing needs and concerns, and in safeguarding our children’s
“[Tuesday] night at our pubic meeting in George
Town I will address a number of issues including the cruise ship berthing
facilities. I can tell you now that we had to move away from our agreement with
GLF and in the new proposal that we are considering the Cayman Islands will get
three projects instead of one. I will explain in more detail tomorrow night.
“In closing, I leave you with some words of
encouragement from the Good Book: “The Lord is our help and our salvation”. And
from another passage: “When our
enemies and our foes came upon us to eat up our flesh, they stumbled and fell.”
My friends, He will see us through.
“May God bless you all and may God Bless the