While criticising the derisive and divisive politics in the Cayman Islands, Premier McKeeva Bush slammed members of the opposition party for “handing us a snake” in turning over the reins of government back in 2009 with an $81 million operating deficit.
The premier’s comments came Thursday in his response to budget debate in the Legislative Assembly. Following the premier’s comments, the interim two-month budget was passed along party lines with eight government and back bench members approving the $85 million temporary operating budget; the five opposition and one independent LA members abstaining from the vote and one member being counted as absent.
The government will have to come back to the House before September with a full budget plan for the fiscal year that started on Sunday and which will end on 30 June, 2013.
“Every new government hopes to be handed a fish when they over,” Mr. Bush said. “What the PPM handed us was a snake. We asked for bread, and they gave us a stone – and not any ordinary stone – a millstone around our necks.”
During his earlier debate, Opposition Leader Alden McLaughlin had called on the premier to stop carping about what occurred in government three years since Mr. Bush’s administration took office and produce a responsible budget.
“I’ve never been more worried about the state of affairs in this country,” Mr. McLaughlin said Wednesday. “I have never seen such recklessness, such inattention to duty. Almost three and a half years in charge, you can’t blame me for your inability to produce a budget; even if it has a deficit.”
Mr. Bush said the former People’s Progressive Movement’s “excessive and wasteful spending” had left the United Kingdom in a position to approve or disapprove of any budget Mr. Bush’s government puts forth. Mr. Bush said earlier during the week that the UK had rejected his government’s budget plans twice in the month of June.
“So no, we must not only find ways to repair our finances and protect our independence and the future of these Islands, we must also do this while being subject to the agenda of the UK,” Mr. Bush said.
Mr. Bush said that agenda included the governor “hollering about good governance” and “his hit men” in the auditor general’s office carrying on their “partiality and rascality”.
Officials with the auditor general’s office declined to comment on those statements.
Mr. Bush said government had already placed a “freeze on all hiring” and would likely have to resort to other budget cutting measures in the weeks ahead to balance the 2012/13 spending plan. He did not specifically state what those measures might entail.
The premier also opined that “opposition politics” seen in recent years “can’t continue if the country is to remain stable”.
“They oppose everything, then moan and whine all day about why things aren’t improving, complain about the lack of jobs and growth, then go out and march against the very investments and projects that can create them,” Mr. Bush said. “They should be tarred and feathered for gross mismanagement in high office.”
Premier Bush said Thursday that if he had the opportunity to lead another Cayman Islands government following the May 2013 elections, he said it would be a government where “every member of the House will sit around a table in the government administration building and have a hand in the policies and things that need to be done in these Islands.
“This will be an attempted – while there will remain a Cabinet – to stop the dirt, underhandedness and outright sabotage going on against government.
“If I win in the next general election, every MLA will then have to accept their share of accountability, no matter their party affiliation.”