Governor: More cost cuts needed

    Budget preparations “painful” and “stressful”

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    Governor Duncan Taylor warned Monday that Cayman has to continue cutting its costs to bring government finances back on track. 

    Delivering his annual Throne Speech at the official state opening of the Legislative Assembly, Governor Taylor described the preparations of the 2011/2012 budget as “painful” and “stressful”. 

    The budget had been scheduled to be delivered after the Throne Speech, but Premier McKeeva Bush announced Friday that it had to be delayed because the United Kingdom government wanted to see more Civil Service personnel cuts before it would agree to sign off on the budget. 

    Governor Taylor said Cayman, like other countries, was having to take “difficult decisions to cut costs, in order to bring government finances back onto a sustainable track”. 

    “It is a painful process,” he said. 

    He said that while he was impressed by the cost cutting he has seen since his arrival in Cayman early last year, “more still remains to be done”. 

    The governor said it was hoped a small surplus in recurrent revenue and recurrent expenditure could be achieved in this fiscal year. 

    However, he said Cayman was spending more than it was earning, partly due to the government paying back capital on old loans and capital investment projects like the Government Administration Building and the new high schools. 

    “We continue to live beyond our means,” he said. 

    In order to get Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister Henry Bellingham to agree to allow Cayman to borrow additional money this year, Cayman needs to reduce its spending, Mr. Taylor told the Legislative Assembly. 

    “Government had to commit to a three-year plan demonstrating incrementally reducing expenditure year on year. We need to meet the commitments we have made. We are on the right trajectory, but it is vital that we keep to the task. I am afraid that means more tough decisions,” the governor said. 

    The three-year plan, agreed in 2010 between the Cayman Islands Government and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, required Cayman to enact measures to reduce its public debt and help balance its yearly budget so that the government does not continue to incur operating deficits. That three-year plan covers Cayman’s 2010/11, 2011/12 and 2012/13 budget years.  

    Mr. Taylor described the preparations for the coming financial year’s budget, which begins 1 July, as “stressful and prolonged”, before thanking those who had put in “hard work and long hours” to prepare it. 

    Premier Bush said he was “praying” he would be able to bring the budget before the Legislative Assembly next week. “I am praying because the UK has to say when we can present that budget,” he said before moving a motion to adjourn the House to a date to be fixed. 

    Mr. Bush said Friday that the government would not cut back on civil servants’ salaries or benefits. 

    What to expect  

    In his Throne Speech, Mr. Taylor addressed some of the work to be done during the coming year by the various ministries and portfolios of government.  

    Addressing crime, he said providing security remains a priority and that although Cayman has seen a reduction in crime figures, the recent increase in robberies is a “particular concern”. 

    Mr. Taylor, who chairs the National Security Council, said the council had agreed on a Crime Prevention Strategy to address some of the long-term causes of crime, which would be made public shortly. He said the Cabinet Office would help coordinate and implement the crime prevention policy included in that strategy. 

    Police will continue to develop partnerships with US, Canadian and Jamaican law enforcement agencies to help build intelligence to secure Cayman’s borders and prevent organised crime from gaining a foothold here, he said. 

    The governor acknowledged that public confidence in the Royal Cayman Island Police Service remains “an elusive goal”. 

    “The RCIPS recognise the key benefits of having officers at the neighbourhood level, known and trusted by those they serve and key to the securing of public confidence,” the governor said, adding that this year, resources permitting, police would increase the number of officers working in the community. 

    Turning to good governance and transparency, Mr. Taylor said in the coming financial year, the Office of the Auditor General will provide the Legislative Assembly with up to six financial and performance audit reports of government departments. 

    On housing issues, he said Fairbanks, the last of Grand Cayman’s trailer parks, which was set up to house residents who had lost their homes in Hurricane Ivan in 2004, will be closed by the end of 2011 and the remaining residents moved to affordable housing. 

    Addressing issues relating to the courts and prisons, Mr. Taylor said the Prison Service will offer programmes to “reduce prisoners’ criminal thinking and drug and alcohol use”.  

    Courts will also begin allowing prisoners on remand to give evidence via live video links from prison to reduce the expense of transporting prisoners to court. 

    A proposed new courthouse will not be built in the coming financial year due to financial restrictions, he said. 

    TOPimage_124183STORY

    Police Commissioner David Baines, right, salutes as Governor Duncan Taylor views the Guard of Honour during the State Opening of Legislative Assembly on Monday.
    Photo: Jewel Levy
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    11 COMMENTS

    1. There are clear double standards at work here along the lines of, Don’t do as I do, do as I say!

      While preaching cuts and restraint in CIG spending, and urging the public to have confidence in the RCIPS, Duncan Taylor is refusing to investigate some of the still unanswered questions about the money wasted on Operations Tempura and Cealt.

      Exactly what the direct cost of these operations was to the people of the Cayman Islands is unclear but I think the current total is already in the order of CI12million with more to come when the two outstanding civil actions are settled. The indirect costs, such as loss of numerous experienced officers who left the RCIPS in the wake of the botched investigation, are probably incalculable. What is clear is that the only tangible result has been disruption of law enforcement over the past three years and a loss of confidence in the RCIPS.

      Whilst heaping criticism on the way the Cayman Islands are being run Mr Taylor conveniently ignores the lucrative, and well documented, payments made to the parties involved during this failed investigation.

      These operations were authorised by the FCO and headed by his predecessor, Stuart Jack. So, as the resulting expenditure was not directly incurred by any CIG actions (in fact at one stage funding was blocked by the LA and Mr Jack used special powers to continue payments), it is presumably beyond criticism. However, the fact remains that the whole exercise was a very expensive disaster.

      On 6 May Mr Taylor wrote to Henry Bellingham bluntly refusing to investigate long-standing connections between those who ran the operations and some of the people they employed. This response was in sharp contrast to the treatment given to the Polaine and Bridger complaint, which made ‘defamatory’ attacks on leading figures in the Cayman Islands, and was made despite the fact that considerable evidence has emerged, and is still being uncovered, suggesting that that there was, at the very least, a conflict of interests in the way some contracts were awarded.

      If Duncan Taylor wants his comments to be taken seriously, by both the people of the Cayman Islands and the OT Minister, he needs to stop trying to bury the blatant abuse of position that took place as the failed investigation dragged on and accept the fact that the FCO has itself contributed to recent budget deficits.

      Until that happens there seems to be no guarantee that similar exercises will not take place in future (or are conceivably currently underway?) without considerably tougher safeguards being in place to avoid a repeat of Tempura.

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    2. Has the FCO ceased to instruct Governors (and other representatives of the Queen abroad) that during the Royal Salute, one stands to attention, with the feet brought together?
      Otehrwise, more cost cuts needed is a sound, necessary message. One hopes it will be heard and implemented.

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    3. This is just a prelude as to what is coming to these islands: FULL BRITISH CONTROL OVER OUR FINANCES!

      At first, you may think that is good. But it is not! The UK policies of direct taxation and proposed projects, will damage these islands.

      Notice the Governor did not mention anything about a National Conservation Law.

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    4. Bodden

      I can share one thing with you and other forumites, for sure…

      The Caymanian people who have the power to elect their leaders need to realise they are not electing decision-makers.

      The people who elect them are the decision-makers; these are the people who need to realise what is in their best interests and elect leaders who will execute their decisions.

      The UK government can afford to boss it over Cayman because Cayman’s people have surrendered their own decision-making powers to their elected leaders.

      We would and will never do that in Britain; we find ways, both peaceful and not so peaceful, to force our politicians to abide by our decisions in this country, called Britain.

      Maybe Cayman’s people need to understand that.

      When Cayman’s people come to realise that the days of plenty are over and will accept that they must now do and work with less, they will quit believing this pipe dream each and every single one of their political leaders feed to them every time; this McKeeva Bush-led clique is no different, all their economic plans are geared to create an illusion of a continuation of the levels of prosperity that no longer exists anywhere, much less in Cayman.

      Thst is why none of his plans are feasible, sustainable or has any real economic base; there are very few super yachts being operated by the rich and famous for which to dredge out the North Sound; their owners, regardless of how rich they are, are being wise and frugal with their money now.

      He will dredge out our island’s natural hurricane protection for yachts that will not come but the hurricanes surely will !

      If the people of Cayman do not take responsibility for their own decisions and end up forceing the UK government to take over their finances, this UK government will only milk whatever little is left of Cayman for themselves.

      We as a population here in Britain will never, ever stand by peacefully and allow them to do this to us so they must look for easier prey.

      We are still sending the last lot of Labour Govt. thieves who stole from us by padding their expenses, to JAIL and there are more who will go; just an example.

      I really do fear that they will find that easier prey in the people of Cayman if Cayman’s people do not step up and take responsibility for their own decisions, cost it what it may.

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    5. @ firery – You said, The UK government can afford to boss it over Cayman because Cayman’s people have surrendered their own decision-making powers to their elected leaders.

      We would and will never do that in Britain; we find ways, both peaceful and not so peaceful, to force our politicians to abide by our decisions in this country, called Britain.

      My question to you is, do the people in Britain have the same Constitution like ours, where parts of it, are written in encrypted colonial language?

      You can’t compare your righteous government’s dealings with the people of Britian with how they deal with the Overseas Territories. Caymanians are alot different.

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    6. I think something is up. The wasteful spending of this UDP government is also speeding up any plans the UK has for direct rule and take over the reins.
      Remember the UK’s criteria for direct rule of her colonies is to Prove the Territorial governmnent incompetent, wasteful, and UNABLE TO MANAGE THE PUBLIC PURSE!
      The hour could very well be nearer than we think.This governor is awfully silent, silent on any and all issues that concern the people of these islands. He can’t keep this up for too long, he must pull out the rabbit from under his hat before we get wind to what role he is really playing.
      Did we not read recently that there was 41 million dollars missing? Now I’m not playing with you but Was that a down payment on our independence or what or did it just disappear and the UK wants to know where it went? This is such a bipolar situation!

      Guys remember and please note the UK are already disgusted with us as a leading financial center of the world, Mother is in competition with her child in the Financial Industry, she has to make a choice soon.

      As the UK always destroys the finances of her colonies before dumping them what plan B is there in place for us to find refuge? I’m getting kind of sore from delivering real facts surrounding what I see, maybe next time we’ll take a look at some fiction!
      Buy that’s how it’s looking from where I’m sitting.

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    7. Bodden

      You’ve totally missed the point of my comments.

      You’ve taken one or two sentences out of context and built a response around that…

      Let me put what I said and meant on other words and then maybe you’ll get it.

      What I’m trying to say is that the voting citizens of the United Kingdom are not passive, peaceful people who let the British government walk all over us…

      The citizens of Cayman are.

      You have let the so-called politicians that make up your government like a round of musical chairs take control of your decision-making processes and now the government of the UK are getting in on the act.

      This political clique, the last PPM govt, the UDP opposition and the ousted Labour Govt. out here conspired to stitch you up properly and the population stood by passively and signed their rights away, peacefully.

      Now that the deal’s been signed, (your so-called Constitution), its coming time to pay up…

      To answer your direct question; Britain has no constitution, Britain is governed by the Westminster Parliament and the courts, common law as adjudged by the judges and juries is still the rule in Britain.

      The biggest mistake Cayman made was to approve your constitution without the immediate right to take your government to court(a Bill of Rights).

      No sane citizen of the United Kingdom would ever have voted for such a useless constitution if democracy is to be the rule of law, which, in Britain, it still is.

      For heaven’s sake, do you believe that we would have stood peacefully by and let 12 million of our taxes be paid for a so-called corruption investigation and then be told by some so-called Governor, that the results are too sensitive to be revealed to the people who have paid for them ?

      Look at the prosecution of the cop who pushed the poor man Ian Tomlinson to the ground and caused his death during the G20 protests as an example; he is now going to be tried for manslughter because the public demanded it, based on revealed evidence.

      The British public does not request permission to protest against the British government and we are certainly not afraid of their police.

      And we are the legal, voting citizens of the UK, who retain these rights by whatever means necessary.

      The next time you hear of a major event in London at which there will be public protests, I invite you to catch a flight over and observe how the British public deals with our government when we don’t agree with what they are doing.

      You will definitely get a different view from what is reported in Cayman’s press, about the United Kingdom.

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    8. Firey,

      Bodden is an advocate of this government. He appears to be a former legislator in the highest ranks, is always on Big Mac’s side and also the UK and is better against the UDP leadership for ousting him over a decade ago!. If my guess is right this is the same former Legislator that has always been on the UK’s side against the people, and it cost him re-election!
      Correct me if I’m wrong about the identity but not wrong about the issues.

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    9. Dubai

      I’ll share something with you from the other side of the ‘pond’.

      McKeeva Bush and the FCO are playing the same game;blaming each other in the eyes of the public but cutting a deal behind the scenes that will keep this government clique, both British and Caymanian, in their high salaries, benefits and lifestyle, together…

      Cayman has always fed this lot with the fat of the land; Cayman’s politicians always have the FCO to pass the blame on as a smoke screen because, to Cayman’s public, the FCO remains a faceless, mysterious organization…

      Not so, to the British public.

      The first sign of warning should have been when the FCO clique rolled into Cayman and started Constitutional talks behind the public’s back.

      The second sign is that in all this blame game, McKeeva Bush has not, for one instant, suggested cutting the fat off the exhorbitant salaries, travel expenses, benefits and double-dip pensions.
      And they’ve agreed to add 3 more…

      If the FCO and Governor were not in on this deal(remember Mr. Governor’s salary and lifestyle as well), this is where the FCO would demand that the civil service cuts be made from to start with…

      The average govt. minister in Cayman makes more per annum, by a significant amount, than the Prime Minister of Great Britain does…

      Trust me on this one…

      The proof that I can offer you is that the honeymoon period of this Conservative/Liberal Dem Govt. here in Britain is over…

      We have agreed with the majority of budget cuts because, as a smart population, we knew that some of them were necessary, even though we have all felt the pinch but…

      No more cuts to essential services will be made here in Britain; no more taking milk from babies mouths that their parents taxes have paid for.

      David Cameron will now do as we say or face the consequences in every local election that will come before we finally get rid of him in the next general election.

      I don’t always agree with Tiger but I can honestly verify, she’s called it right on this one.

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    10. Bodden,

      You are right on one thing.the UK will take full control of our finances. When you were there you kept the public purse in good surplus we admire you for this and appreciate it. But for heaven sake and self respect sake please discontinue to render credence to this reckless government.

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    11. There is rather a lot of misguided and internally illogical thinking going on here. Why would the UK Government wish to take over running Cayman’s finances for its own benefit, when clearly Cayman is in a dreadful state financially, and seems unwilling (or at the very least its politicians are) to face the facts and do something about it?
      Frankly, is it not obviously much more to the UK Government’s long-term benefit to let Cayman run its own show (it’s called independence, and means that Cayman politicians and people accept overall constitutional responsibility, take decisions and accept responsibility for the results), after arranging a launching/severance payment as happened in all former Colonies.
      It would be wonderful to hear some of Cayman’s slippery politicians face up to, and answer, these questions. But I long ago gave up hoping for this: they are mostly too happy in their positions, pay, perquisites and petty rivalries, to the detriment of Caymanians as a whole.

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