This is the fourth installment in a series of interviews highlighting the people involved in the Future of Cayman Economic Development initiative. Interview with Franz Manderson and Michael Joseph, co-chairs of the Create a Business Friendly Climate driver group.
Q: What does “Create a Business Friendly Climate” mean to you?
Franz: It means that we need to evaluate all systems and processes to ensure that the Cayman Islands are responsive to the needs of businesses, investors and residents. It means that applications submitted to Government should be processed efficiently and timely. Customer service support in the public and private sectors should be responsive, friendly and accommodating and not combative or dismissive.
Disputes should be resolved fairly and amicably and we must prove each and every day that we are a great place to live and conduct business. The only way that can be achieved is if we accept our shortcomings and agree that we all need to assess our systems, adjust our attitudes and embrace change so that we can deliver the highest level of customer service and care that our customers deserve at every level of interaction.
Michael: To me it means our ability to respond to the needs of businesses and the community in a positive, friendly and efficient manner. We need to create an environment where we deliver outstanding customer service to everyone who approaches us to conduct business from the payment of garbage fees to the service we receive clearing goods at the customs warehouse and
We need to create an environment where there is certainty of procedures and systems so that the interaction with our local and international customers is considered the best in the world. We want everyone who does business with us to be given a level of service that is exceptional.
That means we greet our visitors with a smile, process applications efficiently and timely and allow a seamless interaction with all of our government services and agencies by embracing innovation and technology and providing the warm Caymanian hospitality and friendliness that we are known for.
Q: In your opinion what makes the Future of Cayman different from other economic development initiatives?
Michael: The high calibre of people involved from the public and private sectors and the partnership that has been developed between the Government, the public and private sectors and the various industry associations that have endorsed the initiative. We can all work together to achieve the objectives and actions that we have all agreed are essential to ensure Cayman’s ongoing and future success.
Working in isolation is not the answer to solving some of the economic challenges facing us. This initiative tears down walls and gets people talking and solving problems. It is filled with positive energy and is results oriented. With this level of cooperation and commitment, the Future of Cayman initiative will produce some outstanding results that we can all be proud of.
I am certainly impressed with the progress that we have made since the start of the initiative and I would strongly encourage more people to get involved so that we can create a better business climate that will lead to major improvements in our society.
Franz: The Future of Cayman initiative is being driven by the private sector with the active involvement and participation from the Government. It is a partnership that has grass roots support within the business community. The initiative brings together a wide range of community, business and government groups to work collaboratively on a strategy for achieving success and prosperity.
It allows us to discuss issues openly and frankly in the driver groups so that we are working together to resolve issues and to develop solutions. I have personally enjoyed interacting with the volunteers on the business friendly driver group. It is a rewarding initiative and there is so much that can be achieved by working together.
Q: What progress has been made to date with your driver group?
Franz: This initiative has already helped to increase public and private sector communication and coordination; one of the three main objectives identified in the strategic report for our driver. There is multi-level participation from several key government ministries, agencies and departments as well as business leaders. We are now examining the Government’s enforcement mechanisms to allow for the consistent and timely application of regulations, policies and procedures.
Meetings have been scheduled with persons in Government who can provide our group with accurate information about the progress that has been made in these areas. Discussions are under way with the computer services unit to learn more about the possibility of database integration strategies for Government as well as payment systems. Customer service is also an essential focus of the driver group and discussions are under way to discuss customer service training and how to develop synergies between the public and private sectors. I am pleased with the progress that we are making and we will report our successes regularly through the use of the website (www.futureofcayman.com.) and in the media.
Michael: I am pleased with the progress to date. We have engaged leaders across Government and the private sector. Discussions to date have been frank and realistic. We have mapped out a strategy, which includes a fact finding stage and are meeting with key officials so that we learn what is happening on the ground before suggesting any changes to systems. We must all remember that we are working together to build a better Cayman and to create a business friendly climate.
This is a collaborative effort and no one can accomplish anything alone. Once the systems and services are in place then business will prosper. Jobs will be created and business opportunities will be abundant for Caymanians and residents.
Q: Is it too late for people to get involved?
Franz: Definitely not! The more volunteers who step forward to serve the more interaction we will have to achieve the results that we are looking for. I’d encourage Government departments that serve customers to join the group so that they can share information about their plans to improve customer service and systems support. The private sector welcomes the chance to learn about the progress that we are making. The civil service is achieving successes in many areas and it is important to share these successes and achievements.
Yes, there will be challenges and differences of opinion but by working together we can ensure that Cayman is competitive to attract new businesses and grow existing industries.