The numbers are worrying.
For the third consecutive year economic activity in the Cayman Islands has fallen.
That’s not good.
It means that we have been in a recession – and still are – for the past three years.
The question is, how do we get out of it?
We’ve made it clear to government that we don’t want direct taxation either on property or consumables. We’re fine with being ‘taxed’ through the duty we pay on goods we purchase; we’re making our own decisions about how much money to put into government coffers.
Statistics show that Cayman has lost 6,000 work permits. While some of those people may have gotten permanent residence, we can safely assume that the majority of them left. Fewer people living in the Cayman Islands means less money being spent, as is evidenced by a drop in imported goods.
A bright spot in the Economic and Statistics Office report was the growth in the tourism sector. While that is good, Cayman cannot rely solely on visitors to bolster our economy.
To us the only clear way to grow our economy is to create jobs.
That means investment and people.
Premier McKeeva Bush has made several suggestions of ways to grow Cayman’s economy, from the Dart deal, Cayman Enterprise City, medical tourism with Dr. Shetty’s proposed hospital to a proposed oil refinery in George Town. All of those ideas are good – except for the oil refinery – and if allowed to go through would create jobs and help Cayman’s economy grow. Those who consistently shout down those ideas have a right to do so, but they should be making their own suggestions of how to get us out of a recession instead of just constantly being negative.
The ESO report suggests that we’ll continue to have tough economic times through the remainder of this year. Something has to be done, and soon, to get us out of the doldrums. We’re tied with Jamaica as the only economy in the Caribbean that has posted a three-year negative gross domestic product. We can, and should, do better.