Emphasis on common public-private economic goals
The Future of Cayman initiative is an attempt to cross the public-private line and partisan aisle in pursuit of a set of common economic objectives. Stemming from an October 2009 event in Florida, the idea for Cayman has been evolving with input from business and government, leading to the presentation of the initiative’s first strategic report Wednesday at the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce.
“Opinions and strategies differed, and surely still do, on the best course of action,” Chamber President-Elect David Kirkaldy said. “Our research, however, led us to discover that countries and communities in this hemisphere where the public and private sectors worked collaboratively and cooperatively to address the challenges, those communities were able to introduce strategies that assisted their recovery faster.”
Companies dubbed “Partners in Progress” for being initial supporters of the initiative include Bodden Holdings, Butterfield, Caledonian, Caymanian Compass, Dart Enterprises, Digicel, IBM, KPMG, The Phoenix Group and The Security Centre.
Premier McKeeva Bush delivered remarks during the “Be Informed” presentation and signed a memorandum of understanding with the Chamber expressing mutual support for the initiative. Mr. Kirkaldy also made a point of recognising Opposition Leader Alden McLaughlin and independent North Side MLA Ezzard Miller for attending the presentation, saying he hoped for their help in implementing the initiative.
Mr. McLaughlin said he and his party had not been invited to participate in the initial formulation of the plan, but that the key drivers and objectives appeared relevant and sound, and he is eager to be involved in the initiative as much as possible.
“We are very happy that this is going on, and we are very happy that the government seems to have bought into it,” he said. “One of the big problems in Cayman is we have a government that essentially has no plan. And in the present environment, very smart strategies are necessary to survive. If government isn’t developing a plan on its own and isn’t coming into office with one, it is very useful that the Chamber of Commerce is going about this exercise and that the government is prepared to buy in. We want to ask to contribute to this.”
Mr. Kirkaldy and Chamber CEO Wil Pineau called on members of the community to sign up for subcommittees to further objectives categorized under five drivers identified as essential to Cayman’s future success, including: develop talent; create a business-friendly climate; diversify the economy; enhance quality of life; and build a smarter infrastructure. Each driver has a committee co-chair from government and one from the Chamber.
The general drivers are broken into specific objectives and individual action items, which can be seen on the report on the initiative’s website, www.futureofcayman.com. People can also use the site to learn more about the initiative, interact, get involved and track the initiative’s progress.
“No strategic report is very good without assessment and regular assessment,” Mr. Pineau said. “This is what this is going to be that’s going to make it different from some of the other things that we’ve seen in the country.”
Mr. Pineau said the website will serve as a clearinghouse for positive news items about Cayman that people can share using social networking tools, such as Facebook and Twitter.
“We can take the steps and do something, or we can listen to the radio shows and do nothing. Talk and criticise, and do nothing. Not me,” Mr. Bush said. “If the Cayman Islands are to have a bright future, then we must open our minds and our hearts to accept change, and have people from outside who can work with us for our best interests.”
Mr. McLaughlin said, “What this government has done since taking power, is put all of their eggs in the basket of ‘We’re going to invite major developers to do major projects.’ And there’s been a myriad of them that have been proposed, talk about and promised and so forth, but 26 months down the road we still don’t have one that has even started. So we’ve got to get back to the basics. Cayman will not be rescued by one major developer. The issues are far more complex. There needs to be a national plan we can focus on.”
The first Future of Cayman forum was held November 2010. The next Future of Cayman forum will be held in 2012, Mr. Pineau said, giving them enough time to monitor progress of the initiative and develop a meaningful report.
According to the MOU signed by Mr. Bush and Mr. Kirkaldy, the government and Chamber agree to promote, work collaboratively on and meet quarterly about the initiative. The MOU explicitly does not entail funding obligations or commitments to specific policy changes without subsequent explicit commitments.
“This initiative is about partnerships among all groups. While we have a commitment with the Cayman Islands government, we will work openly with Mr. Miller and also Mr. McLaughlin to ensure that this initiative is successful,” Mr. Pineau said.