Although the Office of the Premier controls the $690,000 programme to help residents fix their homes, Cayman Islands Premier McKeeva Bush insisted the appointed Home Repairs Assistance Committee – not he or his office – will determine which grant applications are ultimately successful.
“I am not on the committee. When the application is turned in, it’s turned in to a committee, and that committee will decide on the application. I don’t have anything to do with it as premier,” Mr. Bush said.
Mr. Bush made his remarks Monday night, prior to a political rally against the “one man, one vote” referendum, in response to the headline of a story that appeared in Tuesday’s Caymanian Compass: “Premier calls shots on home repairs programme”.
Committee chairwoman Joanna Welcome-Martinez had told the Compass, “The committee is carrying on an advisory role, and final decisions are made by the Office of the Premier whether to go ahead and follow the advice given by the committee in regard to the requests that were received.”
According to information provided by the premier’s office, the committee’s charge is “to review requests from residents for assistance” of up to $10,000.
Mr. Bush indicated he has confidence in the “very extensive terms of reference” by which the committee will consider applications, and he highlighted the backgrounds of committee members, who come from the civil service and the private sector.
“That’s what we should have on our committees,” Mr. Bush said. The funding for the home repairs programme is part of the $5 million provided by the Dart Group for social/community programmes through the ForCayman Investment Alliance. The funding is separate from the $2.5 million mortgage assistance programme.
On Monday evening, Mr. Bush said he had heard about the headline of the story but had not had the opportunity to read it yet.
“It wouldn’t surprise me, ladies and gentlemen. Because I’m a good punching bag, and so they blame me for everything,” he said. “If it rains, my fault. If it don’t rain, it’s the premier’s fault.”