The Dart group, particularly its real estate development company, is currently bearing the brunt of considerable negative opinion from sections of the Cayman community. Not only do Internet forums and callers to radio talk shows cast aspersions on the developer, but a number of activists in the community have targeted their ventures.
Instead of taking aim for example at a road closure or a dump relocation, issues in which a debate could equally argue pros and cons, this community should be more concerned with other problems currently influencing our daily lives. Problems such as a lack of strategic planning, a dearth of creative ideas and positive action, omission of transparency and a lack of responsibility in fiscal management, should be tackled as more of a priority.
All involved in elected Government, past and present, must share some of the blame for the current state of affairs. No matter who you are, it is all very well to criticise and complain and make accusations, but without a constructive alternative it is hollow political rhetoric.
We need help right now. We need to attract people to this country right now. We need business here right now. We need creative forward thinkers with positive attitudes and courage to make decisions for the sake of the country and not their personal security as an elected official.
We must support and sustain the positive things we enjoy and not try to destroy them.
We should be less critical about the one success story we are fortunate to have in this community. For local groups of activists, encouraged by a few politicians, to condemn the Dart Group, continually place obstacles in their strategic plan and all for hollow politics and self-serving ambition, is short sighted at best and mostly fuelled by ignorance.
The one positive in this current period of uncertainty is the Dart Group.
It is a plain and simple fact that the Dart Group has been a responsible member of this community for a number of years. It has performed.
It has presented the Cayman Islands with a product that any country in the world would be proud to boast.
It would also be naïve to ignore the economic benefit presented by Dart to the Cayman Islands over a period of lackluster performance by successive Governments.
The Dart group has paid its way. This is more than can be said for some others.
The income paid into Government coffers is substantial. Business licenses, stamp duties for property purchases and leases, customs duties on imported goods have all been earned by Government with minimal if any concessions. Employment of contractors and service providers as well as a large staff, many of whom are Caymanian with no other employment opportunities in this market, has stimulated the community by injecting money, rentals, purchasing power and a host of other benefits through the community.
It is estimated that the Cayman economy has benefitted by tens of millions of dollars over a number of lean years and over a number of years in which there have been few other sources of income.
Great care must thus be taken focusing too much negative sentiment in one direction. It is not just unhealthy it is equally dangerous.
Whilst there must be transparency and checks and balances to ensure honesty and fair play, attitudes and reaction within these vulnerable islands must be developed and broadcast sensibly. They are studied far and wide beyond these boundaries.
Attitudes are digested with great interest. Other investors must fear a similar reaction in the future and have concerns about their security of tenure.
Reaction is also digested by leaders in other Caribbean territories, many of whom are also currently suffering economic woes. These leaders would lay down a red carpet to welcome even a small portion of the Dart investment. If care is not taken potential business could be driven away to more welcoming borders.
Sensible dialogue is what is required and not a stubborn, adamant refusal, most of which is based on a political influence rather than a practical one. Misinformation and political rhetoric, which will increase and become more vitriolic over the next year, should be avoided.
For the sake of the country, its economy and its people it may be a better idea to work in unison, in an acceptable open partnership. Put the inept political influences to one side or otherwise there may be many more lean years ahead.
This commentary reflects the opinion of the writer and not necessarily that of Cayman Free Press. To contact the writer, email: [email protected]