Bush defends government plans

UDP rally main

Flanked by fellow United Democratic Party members, an energised Cayman Islands Premier McKeeva Bush vigorously defended his government’s actions and riposted against opponents’ recent criticisms of his ongoing major proposals. 

More than 100 supporters gathered in Celebration Park next to the courthouse in George Town on Tuesday evening for the public meeting, billed as an update on cruise dock negotiations but which effectually served as a UDP rally on multiple fronts. 

Mr. Bush poked fun at plans by independent MLA Ezzard Miller and opposition MLA Arden McLean to travel to London to discuss concerns about the Cayman government.  

“Pussycat, pussycat, where have you been? I’ve been up to London to visit the Queen. Pussycat, pussycat, what did you dare?” Mr. Bush said, to supporters’ approval. 

Saying critics had “stirred the old fire in me”, Mr. Bush dispelled any speculation that he was planning to leave government quietly. “I did not say I am going to go, and I am not prepared to go now,” he said. 

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He said he is unafraid of accusations that he or his government have ever acted inappropriately or illegally.  

“If your hands are clean, then the truth will come out at some point,” he said. Speaking after Mr. Bush, MLA Ellio Solomon, who is leading negotiations with China Harbour Engineering Company, addressed the state of George Town cruise berthing plans. Mr. Solomon said concerns raised in an April 2011 KPMG memo about hyper-inflated cruise passenger fees of US$35 were unfounded. Mr. Solomon said that, if the China Harbour deal goes through, the per passenger fees will be equal to or lower than current fees, which total US$16.76, he said.  

Mr. Solomon said the cruise port would still be operated by the Port Authority of the Cayman Islands. The project, with two finger piers, would include retail space to help fund the port authority. He said construction will involve some 1,200 to 1,500 workers – mostly locals, not Chinese. Also, Chinese workers will rent existing housing stock, rather than live in temporary work camps, he said. 

Mr. Bush said the Government has just signed a contract with Miami consultants Bermello Ajamil & Partners to examine the draft framework agreement before it is sent to the Central Tenders Committee. 

Mr. Bush also defended the ForCayman Investment Alliance agreement between government and the Dart Group. He broke down allocation of the CI$5 million received from Dart for social/community programmes as follows: CI$2.05 million for mortgage assistance; CI$200,000 for sports and youth programmes; CI$600,000 for projects at Savannah and Bodden Town Primary Schools; CI$650,000 for a housing repairs programme for the elderly and needy; CI$450,000 for the new Hospitality Training School; and CI$150,000 for Cayman Brac playfield capital works. 

He said new hotel construction at the Courtyard Marriott site will begin in 12 months. 

Regarding Dr. Devi Shetty’s proposed medical tourism hospital, Mr. Bush said developers purchased 200 acres near High Rock and are going through the lands and survey process for the first 50 acres, which will encompass a 140-bed hospital. He said the planning application will be submitted within three months, and construction is scheduled to begin in August, with 12 months to completion and up to 300 workers on the construction site. 

The project’s master plan will include an assisted-living/retirement community, school, commercial/retail area (town centre), resort and hotel area, and biotech park, Mr. Bush said. 

Additionally, Mr. Bush promised to investigate into what has delayed the proposed divestment of the Water Authority’s sewage operations. A 25-year lease of the system would generate $50 million up front, plus $5 million per year thereafter, Mr. Bush said. 

UDP rally

More than 100 supporters gathered to hear Premier McKeeva Bush and members of his government Tuesday night. – Photo: Patrick Brendel
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  1. If Mr. Bush wanted to keep his hands clean, he should have had no dealings with the shaddy character Dart. Government should have been neutral and Dart should have been regarded like any private sector entity – no special favors.

    The UDP should have focused on reducing the cost of living, so small businesses could thrive and jobs created. Instead they have not done so, but pushing forward to help giants like Dart, who doesnt give me any assurance that he will provide well paid jobs for Caymanians. Look at Camana Bay and tell me how many Caymanian faces you see working there? Got my drift?

    UDP is pushing for jobs, but for whose benefit? It is certainly not for the benefit of those who want to start and maintain their businesses in Cayman. They have put all their stakes in for one man and a few wealthy folk! What have they done for small business owners, the real ones who are driving this economy and providing jobs? Nil… still the fees are high, small businesses are closing, more unemployment, more crime, but all like Dart can afford it.

    Cayman, wake up! Let us not sell ourselves short to a few without fixing our economy for everyone!

  2. Same old story – local labor on the job? Only if you pay a salary which will support them. A lower salary will not entice local labor and then foreign labor will have to be brought in to fill the gap. Foreign labor can’t afford to rent houses and apartments unless they live 5 to a room. Let’s talk about the figures then you get the real picture and not just an opinion from an individual. Listen to the facts and not the voice.
    If you love Cayman, do what is right for her!

  3. It’s easy to point a finger Apprentice.

    So, how you propose to make jobs for Caymanians when no Caymanians work for less than 15 an hour?

    And no Caymanians are putting money up to start new business. Because the population is dwindling, so there is no money to be made with new business?

    And since any new caymanian business is going to need to pay 10 to 15 an hour and have a hell of a time finding local’s to do the work.

    Lets hear how your plan can fix all this?

    Love how it’s easy to say make more jobs but you really don’t have a clue what your saying.

    And need I remind you, UDP has been trying to make jobs. But there is always one excuse after another, by the population, why Bush and his plans are the devils idea’s.

    We are all ears Apprentice. I hope you don’t say anything that has too many holes and is easy to disprove.

  4. Bir Bird,

    You need to ask yourself several questions before I can answer you:-

    You talk about population dwindling. Why is that? We implemented a rollover policy, and it was this government that increased the work permit fees! Why do you think they are leaving? Come on… use your commonsense! If govenrment is increasing in size – not downsizing, not forming at least public-private partnerships, and they are putting up fees and all import duties, how in the hell do you expect people to stick around? And how in the hell do you expect businesses to have money on hand to pay for their employees. You make it harder for people to survive on this island if you are going to make the island more expensive. Hence, congratulations UDP for the high cost of living! PPM left us in a mess, now you dug the hole deeper!

    My plan to fix all of this is simple.

    I suggest you read the Miller Report that was composed by a U.S. lawmaker with recommendations for stabalizing these islands economy. And I further suggest you read a news article that was posted by the late Linton Tibbetts for the Brac economy. In these reports you will find many of my answers to your questions.

    You are defending UDP about they trying to create jobs! If they were trying so hard, why are their so many Caymanians unemployed? Sorry, but Dart is not the answer! And projects are not the immediate answer! Dart and the projects are not going to put food on our tables now at this present moment! Once Dart gets what he wants, he will create jobs under his terms, and the Labor Department will not be able to enforce anything against him on Labor abuses, because Dart and Government has allied themselves into one yoke!

    We have a very large government that is making it expensive for all, and still UDP fails to make it easier for locals to maintain and keep their businesses, always hikes in fees! They are not doing any good to really help the economy! What? You would give millions of taxpayers monies to churches to help them build society? That is a disgrace! A faith-based organization should not be getting our monies! UDP should have used this money for educational and employment purposes. But they did not do that!

    They had 3 years to make a difference; one more year left, and not even one project has been jumped started. McKeeva took so long to jump-start a single project! Again Big Bird read read read the Miller Report… don’t get caught up with our politrix 🙂

  5. Yes, and Dart is licensed to destroy the Capital of George Town and its economy with the hand held help of this UDP government. If this is not enough to get small businesses mad and run this bunch out of town then what will? The UDP is enriching Dart by driving business to the West Bay Road down to Caymana Bay while this shark eats up all small businesses.

    Do something. Join the petition!

    The UDP sucks!

  6. in reply to nj2cay
    you mean u do not know?
    well then my friend if u are truly blind to the struggles,hardships, sufferings of native caymanians brought on by corrupted politicians many many expats who are just as corrupted. then my advice to you is go back home to your country watch the Caymanian revolution unfold cuz wether or not u believe it is coming we will succeed of course since these islands were once known to be one of the friendliest places in the world to visit due to the nature of Native Caymanians we will take back what was stolen from us by force but not by violence this generation of caymanians is a whole different kind of Native

  7. Indigenous, I am not blind, I actually see the struggles hardships and suffering of people all over the world. Growing up as an African American I’ve also had my own share of hardships to overcome and there has been plenty of struggling in my life. Growing up I’ve watched my own father bust his behind and get passed over for jobs just because of the color of his skin something I’ve experience myself on plenty of occasions. Just a few generation ago my family was beaten and forced to pick cotton on the same land they now home, which by the way isn’t for sale at any price and never will be because as a family we hold it deal to our hearts out of respect for the ones that suffered so we could call it our own.

    But your answer still leaves me confused, I asked you to help me understand what you meant by what was stolen from Caymanians that they plan on taking back by force. I can respect your response of go back home but it leaves me without a true understanding of your comments. If you are not willing to elaborate on it, maybe someone else can offer me some clarity.

    I hear a lot of people saying things like we want to take back what was stolen from us, all I am trying to understand is what it is or was that was stolen from Caymanians. Was it Land, was it money, just what is it that was stolen, by who and how did they do this?

    Did someone at one point come to Cayman and forcibly remove you from your family land and call it their own?

  8. While I am very sensitive to a lot of the complaints I hear coming from Caymanians about their Country ,their leaders, Expats and Foreign Investors. The one thing I am finding it very hard to understand is why there’s such a strong feeling that there’s Something that was Stolen from the Caymanian People by Foreigners. I hear it come up a lot and each time I ask the people who make these statements to elaborate, No one can even explain why they feel this way or what it was that was actually stolen. How can people fight to get something back if they don’t know what it is that was taken from them ?