Anti-tax protests may still happen

Despite the Caymanians and Expats United Against Taxation group calling off its demonstration at tonight’s meeting with Premier McKeeva Bush in West Bay, individual members of the group say they still plan to attend and another group called Truly4Cayman Coalition say they’ll be there.

The Truly4Cayman Coalition, which includes members from the Concerned Citizens Group, West Bay Action Committee, Keep Bodden Town Dump Free and the Save Cayman Group, in an emailed announcement sent to media outlets Wednesday morning said they would be at the Sir John A. Cumber school hall this evening at 6.30am to “welcome the Honourable Premier to his meeting about his proposed ‘Community Enhancement Fee’.”

The group said it was confident that the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service would protect members’ right to assemble.

The notice from the group read: “Mr. Premier, you may be able to scare some of the people, some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time.”
It continued: “As the members of the recently formed Caymanians and Expats United Against Taxation group have not yet learned to stand their ground against our government leadership, it is worth noting that the Hon. Premier’s only answer to our Coalition Group’s letter to the Premier requesting a meeting to discuss his ever changing “Dart Deal”, including the transfer and closure of a section of the West Bay Road, was to disparagingly accuse us of being “destructive” people!

“But to the contrary, the goals and aims of the Truly4Cayman Coalition Group are quite the opposite of destructive – instead we work for the preservation of the West Bay Road and other areas of Grand Cayman solely for the long-term benefit all the people. Mr. Premier, it is time for you to fulfil your pledge to protect and defend the best interests of all of Cayman, which, you must admit, cannot be achieved as long as you insist on focusing only on your special interests groups. By the way, if you want to use the term “destructive” correctly, then do so by applying it to your plans and deals like the Dart Deal!”

It called on the members of the Caymanians and Expats United Against Taxation “not be intimidated, stand your ground” and join the Truly4Cayman Coalition Group at the West Bay meeting.

On the Caymanians and Expats United Against Taxation Facebook page, several members have said that they intend to attend the meeting, even though Nick Pitman who set up the Facebook group, which by Wednesday morning had more than 10,500 members, posted a notice saying the protest planned for tonight had been rescheduled for Monday night in central George Town instead.

Protesters-expat payroll tax

Caymanians and Expats United Against Taxation with the placards they had hoped to display to Premier McKeeva Bush at Monday’s postponed meeting. – PHOTO: STUART WILSON

1 COMMENT

  1. I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat. — Winston Churchill in a speech to the house of commons, 13 May 1940.

    Winston Churchill spoke to the British nation during a time of crisis, a time of war. The Cayman Islands is currently facing a crisis of epic proportions, perhaps the greatest in our history. But it is a time of crisis that defines the character of a people and the nature of its leaders.

    Now is the time for all men and women of goodwill — from Caymanians to expats, from business people to civil servants — to unite and offer blood, toil, tears and sweat to save these Cayman Islands that we all love. And there is more. Let us first focus on saving Cayman, and then make our beloved nation prosper and soar for the benefit of all people — from those who have lived here for generations to those that have recently adopted the Cayman Islands as their home.

    To begin our rescue of the Cayman Islands, let us start with an obvious fact.The idea of introducing the first ever direct taxes in the Cayman Islands is, in the words of Forbes, nothing less than committing self-inflicted financial suicide. It is, as I have written before (http://www.compasscayman.com/caycompass/2012/07/30/Premier-postpones-budget-meeting/#view_comments), antithetical to the business model (how we make money) of a tax free nation.

    But wait, how can it be self-inflicted suicide? Hasn’t it been claimed that the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) requires the Cayman Islands to impose taxation? No, the FCO is asking the Government to create a balanced budget with sustainable revenue or cost savings (meaning they are are not one-off sources of revenue or savings, but rather predictable, recurring annual sources of income or savings). What are our options for sustainable revenue or cost-savings? The options broadly speaking fall into the following categories: (A) direct taxes, (B) indirect taxes, (C) budget cuts as well as (D) creative, courageous voluntary sources of revenue and cost savings (see below).

    A direct tax like the payroll tax proposed by the Government is the knife that will kill the goose that lay the golden eggs (see my comments here http://www.compasscayman.com/journal/story.aspx?id=104253). This eliminates category A above so we are now left with solutions in category B, C and D (see list of proposed solutions below).

    Likewise, while it may be a desirable long-term objective to reduce the number of civil servants, we have to realize that this is political suicide with an election less than 12 months away. No government in Europe or North America would make major reductions to pensions or the civil service during an election year, so we should not expect it to happen here (that’s not to say it couldn’t happen in the first year of a future Government, but that’s something that will have to be considered another day).

    In the meantime let us focus on things that can be done here and now, which does NOT require direct taxes, and which can be done without the UK’s FCO involvement — in other words, solutions that fall into the following categories: indirect taxes, budget cuts (excluding cutting the staff of the civil service) as well as creative, courageous voluntary sources of revenue and cost savings.

    Top 10 ways to balance the budget in a sustainable way without direct taxes:
    Create a national Cayman Islands Lottery. The Texas Lottery has generated well over 19 billion for the state of Texas since the first ticket was sold in 1992 (http://www.txlottery.org/export/sites/lottery/Supporting_Education/).
    Institute an (additional) 10 to 20 fee for passengers arriving in the airport.
    Launch a US / CI exchange fee and a fee on outgoing wire transfers originated by individuals.
    Introduce toll roads with a fee for certain roads ranging from .25 to 1
    Commence higher fees for traffic violations (e.g. speeding, parking violations) which would also decrease the number of accidents and related health care costs.
    Begin a nation building initiative for all people who reside in the Cayman Islands. As a Nation Building Initiative, each church that received nation building funds could organize a fundraising drive to raise the equivalent amount that was received by the government — and give that amount back to the Government as God’s gift to the Cayman Islands. To show unity with everyone in the Cayman Islands, any individual or corporation that has received special concessions since the beginning of the global financial crisis could voluntarily elect to refund those amounts to the people of the Cayman Islands through a check to the Government (this would include DART and the Ritz-Carlton). The PPM and UDP could sign a written pledge to cease special concessions in the future. This will also be a great insurance policy against any potential corruption.
    To take full responsibility for the current crisis — which has been created by both the PPM and the UDP — all MLAs could voluntarily pledge to reduce their monthly salary to 1 until they have reached a balanced, sustainable budget that does NOT include direct taxation. Similarly, members of the civil service could elect to voluntarily donate 1 months worth of salary. A website could be created by a volunteer to honor the MLAs and civil servants that take this generous action.
    Set up sponsorship opportunities and a Cayman Hall of Fame. Private universities around the world raise billions of dollars from donors who name buildings on their campuses. The government could create a program where major public buildings (e.g. the airport, schools) could be renamed after a corporate sponsor in return for a recurring annual sponsorship fee. Many of these buildings are currently named after people who have performed great service to the Cayman Islands — so to honor their contributions we can place their names in a Cayman Hall of Fame. Ten percent of the income from the sponsorships can be set aside for the Cayman Hall of Fame so 90% of the sponsorships can go to support the Government budget.
    Begin the No Caymanian Left Behind Initiative. Let’s stamp out all unemployment in the Cayman Island and get to 100% employment. Everyone lives on the same small islands — let’s be united for full employment. In addition to just being the right thing to do, it also has a big impact on the fiscal position of the Government. For each unemployed person who is placed in a new job, the Government saves a material monthly amount. Government could create a website — accessible to any employer in the Cayman Islands — with the resumes of all Caymanians who are currently unemployed. Individual members of the Chamber of Commerce and the Cayman United Against Tax group could become a Mentor and Coach for each unemployed Caymanian and work with them until they have a job. Once unemployed Caymanians are placed in jobs, their respective Mentors and Coaches could continue to offer support for the first year to ensure that they are successful in their new jobs. The Government, the Chamber and members of the Cayman Against Tax group could also offer skill training and accelerated job placement activities. For example, Codecademy offers free training in learning how to develop computer programs (http://www.codecademy.com/). Study groups and job fairs for students who have completed this training could be organized — along with Hackathons (https://www.hackerleague.org/) that are regularly used in Silicon Valley for people to showcase their programming skills and secure jobs or investors.
    Annual I Love Cayman Fundraising drive. Organize an annual fundraising drive held in August and available to everyone in the Cayman Islands — from Caymanians to expats, from firms owned by Caymanians to companies owned by expats, from business people to civil servants and MLAs — to support the budget of the Government. Participation would be completely voluntary. A website could be created to create a list of everyone who has contributed with the amount donated listed next to the name. Let’s show our support for these Cayman Islands that we all love. This is love in action.

    Another obvious idea is introducing casinos and taking a percentage of their profit. However, there are religious concerns and some studies indicate that casinos bring more crime. Personally, I don’t like the vibe of casinos — I don’t think it matches with the great spirit of the Cayman Islands. There are so many ideas that I think casinos are not necessary. For these reasons, I have NOT included casinos, but this is a point that reasonable people can disagree about.

    The above is just an initial brainstorming list. The Chamber of Commerce, Cayman Finance, the Big Four accounting firms, members of Cayman United Against Tax, and other business and financial professionals could create a more comprehensive list, quantity the income or cost savings potential from each idea, summarize the aggregate numbers and their impact on the budget — and publish these assessments on their websites so they are available to all political parties, people and businesses in the Cayman Islands.

    If the PPM (founded in 2002) and the UDP (formed after the November 2000 election) are unwilling to rise to the level of Winston Churchill — to offer blood, toil, tears and sweat — to save the Cayman Islands by taking the above-mentioned steps, then the Caymanian people should consider creating a third political party to make these things happen. A combination of young, visionary and cosmopolitan Caymanians — men and women — paired with experienced, accomplished and highly ethical business people could quickly form a new political party and execute on the action items described above. Political leaders exist to serve the people; if they fail to serve the people, then new leaders will emerge from the people and replace the old guard. Indeed, great leaders emerge in times of crisis to serve their people — these leaders can either come from the PPM, the UDP or a new political party.

    Grant McCracken captures what is at stake for the PPM and the UDP with a great analogy (http://cultureby.com/2010/10/andy-grove-and-the-mysteries-of-the-inflection-point.html).
    It begins like a classic Harvard Business School case study. Intel CEO Andy Grove and Intel co-founder Gordon Moore are sitting in Grove’s office at Intel. They are deeply unhappy. Intel is caught in a price war with the Japanese. Here’s how Mr. Grove describes what happened next:

    I looked out the window at the Ferris wheel of the Great America amusement park revolving in the distance, then I turned back to Gordon and I asked, If we got kicked out and the board brought in a new CEO, what do you think he would do? Gordon answered without hesitation, He would get us out of memories. I stared at him, numb, then said, Why shouldn’t you and I walk out the door, come back and do it ourselves?

    The PPM and the UDP can walk out the door, come back and execute on the action program described above — or the Caymanian people (the Board of Directors of the Government) will bring in new management in the form of a new political party.

    The task ahead is clear. Together, we aim to save these Cayman Islands that we all love — and then proceed to make them prosper and soar. To make this happen will — in the immortal words of Winston Churchill — require nothing but blood, toil, tears and sweat. Now is the time for all men and women of goodwill who love these islands to unite in the pursuit of a grand journey that will define our generation for decades and centuries into the future. And as we make this happen in a spirit of great unity and firm resolve, God will bless each one of us, we will honor the souls of our great Caymanian ancestors who worked so hard to build the Cayman we all enjoy today — and our grandchildren brought into this world by Caymanian and expats alike will be eternally grateful. May God bless the Cayman Islands and all of her people.

  2. @progress

    As usual you make excellent and sensible comments.

    Sadly Premier Bush will not have the political courage to now back down. (Although I did note that the non-taxable limit has now increased from 20,000 CI.)

    Further, the word is already out there that Cayman is no longer going to be direct tax free.

    Even if a reverse is announced, it will never receive the same worldwide news coverage.

    Folks, the party is over, or close to it anyway.

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