Editorial for June 13, 2011: Anxious for budget details

It’s a disappointment, but actually not a surprise, that the 2011-2012 budget documents for the Cayman Islands weren’t presented to Members of the Legislative Assembly on Friday afternoon when Premier McKeeva Bush gave his budget address.

It appears the UK is still holding us up.

Plans are in the works now for MLAs to begin debating the budget Wednesday. It is hoped this occurs because time is running out. The new budget, according to law, is to be adopted and in place by 1 July, a mere 11 working days from Wednesday.

We did learn Friday night that the only revenue-raising feature the country can expect is a $1,500 fee on certain ‘master funds’ hedge funds that are registered in the Cayman Islands.

Hedge funds are private investment funds that participate in a range of assets and a variety of investments to protect the investor’s funds during downturns in the market and maximise profit during market upswings.

The money that the new fee or ‘tax’ generates is expected to amount to $4.5 million, which is to be used to provide a rebate to the Caribbean Utilities Company to offset its payment of duty on the importation of diesel that produced electricity.

Premier Bush predicted – and we believe him to be correct – that it is going to be a long, hot summer. His plan is to use that rebate to help reduce the price of electricity to consumers.

Thank you, Mr. Bush. Electricity consumers in the Cayman Islands can take any break they can get.

Mr. Bush also alluded to an agreement between the Dart group of companies and the Cayman Islands government. Because it was mentioned while he was discussing the budget, we can only assume that some of the items listed will be money-saving measures for the country.

We’re anxious now for Wednesday and to find out more details of the budget for the next fiscal year. It is hoped that a move will be made to do something with the Civil Service in the form of having its members pay for a portion of their own health care and pension. That alone would help the Cayman Islands achieve and maintain a more balanced budget.

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