For most of the world, ‘Cayman Islands’ is synonymous with ‘no taxes’. While that’s not exactly true, the local economy is predicated on companies being able to operate with a relatively small amount of revenue siphoned off to government.
In order to fill in the gaps where government assistance falls short, corporate responsibility has become integral to making society function in Cayman.
Cost of doing business
The two main sources of central government’s funds, projected to be about $550 million for the current budget year, are import duties and business fees, with a significant portion of those coming from the financial services industry. The third largest source, immigration-related fees, now total more than $70 million per year, accounting for about 13 per cent of the budget.
Just like import duties, business fees and immigration-related fees, corporate giving is a necessary factor in the cost of doing business.
That’s not just a way of saying that it is vital that companies step up with contributions to important organisations that government can’t or doesn’t fully fund. While many companies give for altruistic reasons, in other cases, corporate giving is mandatory.
For example, according to Immigration Regulations, companies that must submit Business Staffing Plans to government must include information about “the commitment of the business to education and development locally including scholarships, training schemes and in-house training”.
All companies that employ 15 or more work permit holders must submit Business Staffing Plans in order to apply for work permits for employees.
ForCayman Investment Alliance
One of the most high-profile proponents of corporate responsibility is Cayman’s Dart Group of companies. Accordingly, the ForCayman Investment Alliance between Dart and government is the most significant current example of a company coordinating with government in order to give back to the community.
Under the agreement, which is still being negotiated, Dart will close a section of West Bay Road, extend the Esterley Tibbetts Highway to Batabano Road, build a new road to Barkers National Park, redevelop the former Courtyard by Marriott, close and remediate the George Town landfill, and fund the first phase of a proposed new landfill in the district of Bodden Town.
In exchange, government will provide Dart with $19.2 million in development incentives in concessions. In order to obtain the concessions, Dart will have to spend some $280 million on development in Cayman.
The combined cost to Dart for roadworks, landfill remediation and establishment of the new solid waste management facility will be in the range of $82 million-$90 million.
Additionally, Dart will provide funding for some $14.4 million-$16.4 million of community projects and education.
Dart has already given government $5 million in funding for community projects.
In March, Premier McKeeva Bush broke down the funding as follows: $2.5 million for mortgage assistance; $650,000 for housing repairs for the elderly; $600,000 for schools capital projects, namely Savannah and Bodden Town Primaries; $250,000 to start a hospitality training school; $200,000 for sports and youth programmes; $200,000 for East End community projects; and $150,000 for Cayman Brac play field capital works.
The ForCayman website states that highlights of the overall community funding will include new classrooms, sporting facilities, improved and new parking, after-school activities through schools and churches, affordable housing, new community parks, and human capital development, such as training and apprenticeship programmes.
Dart’s ongoing involvement
While the ForCayman agreement explicitly delineates contributions Dart will be expected to make in the future, the company has supported many initiatives in the past, and continues to make donations to organisations outside of the realm of the ongoing negotiations.
The Dart Foundation alone has donated to various projects in Cayman, including US$20 million to build the Cayman International School at Camana Bay.
The Dart Foundation is a private family foundation established in 1984 by William A. Dart and Claire T. Dart in Mason, Michigan, where it continues to be headquartered.
Here in Cayman, the Dart Foundation’s support included developing public parks in each of Grand Cayman’s five districts and donations to a number of organisations, including the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands, Cayman National Cultural Foundation, Central Caribbean Marine Institute, Junior Achievement, the Young Caymanian Leadership Awards, Cayman Islands Little League Association and Cayman Maritime Heritage.
For example, last September the foundation donated CI$175,000 to the Cayman Catboat Club, to be used for several initiatives, including the completion of refurbishment work on the 24-foot Whittaker Cat.
Apart from the foundation, the Dart Group of companies also directly supports dozens of charities and events in Cayman.
Over the years, those charities have included Big Brothers Big Sisters, Children & Youth Services Foundation, the Golden Apple Awards, the Lions Club of Grand Cayman, the Cayman Heart Fund, the Rotary Central Science Fair, Cayman Islands Hospice Care, Cayman Business Outlook, the Cayman National Orchestra and many others.
In addition, Camana Bay hosts a number of charitable or cultural events, including the Festival of Trees, Taste of Cayman, the Cayman Jazz Fest, the Children’s Book Festival for Cystic Fibrosis Trust and many others.