Confusion reigns

UDP ministers lineup main

Cayman Islands Premier McKeeva Bush officially admitted defeat on a proposed 10 per cent payroll tax for certain expatriate workers Monday night, capping off nearly two weeks of heated debate 
over the issue.  

“The community enhancement fee is now off the table and will not be implemented,” Mr. Bush said in a statement released Monday evening.  

“At our public meeting on Wednesday, 1 August at the John Cumber Primary School Hall, I stated that the community enhancement fee would be taken off the table if robust, credible and sustainable revenue that did not hurt the poorest members of our Islands was found,” Mr. Bush said. “We are satisfied that many of the commitments from the private sector will meet these criteria.”  

Mr. Bush did not give any specifics in his statement about what the alternative fees or taxes might involve. He did discuss potential alternatives for government financing with a group of local business leaders on Friday.  

The Caymanian Compass understands that proposals like increased work permit fees for certain sectors of the economy, increased levies on certain properties, increased fees on certain aspects of the financial services sector and even legalised gambling had been discussed.  

Premier Bush was expected to present specific plans this evening at a 7.30 meeting scheduled at the Mary Miller Hall in George Town.  

 

Budget matters  

According to estimates put forth by Premier Bush’s administration, the previous proposal for a 10 per cent payroll tax on work permit holders making at least $36,000 would have raised approximately $50 million for the 2012/13 budget year.  

Cayman’s current government financial year started on 1 July and the country was forced to implement a two-month temporary spending plan to keep the public sector going until a full budget could be approved.  

Premier Bush sent a $592 million spending proposal to the United Kingdom for review last week based on the implementation of the 10 per cent payroll tax on expats.  

According to administration officials, the UK’s response to that most recent budget plan was “not favourable” and apparently needed more work on both the revenue and expenditure sides. The response – based on the budget that included the 10 per cent payroll tax – was received from the UK on Monday.  

The reworking of new fee proposals into the budget will likely take more time and could further delay the budget’s final approval from the UK. 

Administration officials said last week that Cayman only has spending authority through 31 August right now, and that another temporary budget might be needed to give the country more time to sort things out. By law, Cayman can have a temporary budget up to the first four months of any fiscal year. It has done so previously, for the 2009/10 financial year, the first budget taken over by the United Democratic Party government after its election to office in May 2009.  

 

Spending ‘cuts’   

Premier Bush has also proposed a number of reductions within the civil service and government budget as part of the spending plan sent to the United Kingdom late last month.  

However, the total spending recommended in the latest budget plan – $592 million – was far above what Mr. Bush had initially set as the goal for the civil service and even further above the goal the UK had set for Cayman in its three year budget plan.  

Mr. Bush initially requested that total central government expenditure for the 2012/13 budget year be capped at $498 million, while UK recommendations for the three-year budget plan were $462 million for the current year.  

In the budget year that ended on 30 June, 2011/12, projected expenditure figures were around $550 million – including an additional spending amount of $49 million approved by lawmakers earlier this year.  

 

Calls for resignation  

North Side MLA Ezzard Miller has called on Premier Bush to step down over what he referred to as a “grossly detrimental” plan to introduce the controversial payroll tax on expat workers.  

“Given his actions and announcements over the past week that have shaken the financial industry to its very core, damaged Cayman’s international reputation and created further instability and division in the community, Mr. Bush should be asked to step down as Finance Minister,” said Mr. Miller. 

Mr. Miller urged “all right-thinking members of the business community, Caymanians from all cross sections of society and those of us in political leadership to demand of Mr. Bush that he removes himself from the Finance Ministry, to prevent further damage to the Cayman Islands.” 

As well as being premier, Mr. Bush serves as the minister of finance, tourism and development in the Cayman Islands Government. 

The member for North Side said Mr. Bush had undertaken an “unnecessary and reckless departure” from Cayman’s traditional revenue sources to a form of income-determined tax, an action Mr. Miller said was “grossly detrimental to this country and he should be required to re-assign the Finance Ministry”. 

UDP ministers lineup

Premier Bush and his fellow UDP elected members had no luck selling the payroll tax to members of the public last week. – Photo: Brent Fuller

1 COMMENT

  1. There are some smart people with sharp minds in the UDP government. One can only wonder what they are thinking of this budject disaster and Expat Tax fiasco.
    At some point they need to step forward and get the good ship Cayman back on course.

  2. I stated that the community enhancement fee would be taken off the table if robust, credible and sustainable revenue that did not hurt the poorest members of our Islands was found, Mr. Bush said.

    Well why doesn’t the government allow to be set-up a tourist only casino employed by a minimum 75% Caymanians for the benefit of goverment revenues to be distributed effectively to Cayman’s neediest and to pay down debt?

  3. I’m sorry Stevie D, but we just can’t have gambling in the Cayman Islands, because the Pastors of the island have all said Bad Things Would Happen.

    Why, people might even start to Dance on Sundays.

  4. Sounds like SNAFU to me.

    OldDiver, you may joke about gambling but I have seen what happens when a resort gives in to legalized gambling. Do you really want to end up with rival gangs from Eastern Europe fighting it out with UZIs and AKs or simply putting bombs under the cars of their competitors in the business?

    Because that is what will happen and it will not exactly pull the tourists in, at least not the ones you want.

    Having said that I would support the concept of properly managed Casinos in the Cayman Islands because the potential revenue is huge but there are at least three major problems.

    The first is that the cruise lines are unlikely to be very happy about this move unless they get a major cut of the proceeds. Next is the fact that the casinos will not be properly managed by CIG so you will never see the full financial benefits and finally, now that are good air links with Central America, they will attract all the kind of bottom-feeding scum you do not want on the islands.

    This is the proverbial poisoned chalice.

  5. @John Evans

    All cruiseships including Disney have casinos on them. I don’t see any scum coming off the ship, do you? The assumptions that you are making are without any proof. I don’t see any AKs and UZIs at Caesar Palace. Google the average age of visitors to Vegas and you’ll note that most visitors are in the 50s. My opinion is that a Casino will attract the same tourists that go to Vegas or take a cruise. No scum!

  6. John evans is right about privately owned casinos. They attract mafia. But what most are suggesting is government run casino’s.

    Government owned casino’s do not attract mafia’s.

    Canada has only government run casino’s. And there is no mafia element.

    Any crime committed in and around a government run casino is a federal crime. Not a local crime. So the sentences are much stiffer.

  7. The Casino option is one of the best as there is no huge administration required and private enterprise will foot the bill in its entirety.

    What a fabulous opportunity for new hotel(s) resort(s) employing thousands of workers from inception through construction to day to day ongoing operations.

    One need only to look at what the Ontario Lottery and Gaming in Canada has achieved with virtually no downside.

  8. The government of the Principality of Monaco is almost totally financed by their casino operations. Otherwise, everything you could read in the Wikipedia about Monaco could apply to Cayman.

    I have never seen an Eastern European with Uzi’s or car bombs in Monaco. Although, I have heard that they do Dance on Sunday in Monaco.

  9. If properly regulated casino operations were permitted they could produce positive outcomes. However we need to ensure that BOTH a proper regulatory and enforcement structure and a proper anti-corruption structure are in place well before any licenses are up for any form of negotiation. If we do not have those safeguards then legalising casinos could allow our worst elements to create opportunities for the worst possible foreign criminal elements to further undermine our political structures.

  10. One thing pops into my mind with Government run casinos although I could be wrong; Government needs to build the Casinos and build them well, think 3-4 star hotel, market it well and employ quality trained staff, with no criminal records. Most expensive option but best option.

    If they go with the private sector, it will have to heavily regulated much like Banks are to make sure money is not being laundered, skimmed etc.

  11. Government owned and run is the best option. They get 100% of the profit.

    With a government you know the payout is honest. And regulated.

    Privately owned casino’s aren’t good even when regulated. Becuase there will always be a seedy element to them.

    Im sure if they made a director of Gaming. Within the government. He’s gotta watch his p’s and q’s, because he has the ministry of finance to answer to, and eventually the crown and the governor(crown is big Britain’s laws and jail time rules)

    Government run casino is the only safe option.

  12. Casinos would be the best thing that could ever happened to the Cayman Islands. If it weren’t sold out to places like China Harbor, or people like Dart.

    I think the Casino should be C.I. Government owned.
    AND treat it like the American Indian Casinos. Native American Indian Casinos pay their Tribes MAN, WOMAN, and Child 4 of every 10 that people wager at their casinos. WOW how nice!!

    The Associated Press reported in 2003 that each at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tampa Florida, that every Seminole man, woman and child in the tribe received 42,000 a year – and that’s before the two Florida Hard Rock hotels and casinos got off the ground. 2003 was 11 years ago. I can only imagine the Seminole’s tribes have now most likely doubled their pay-checks. Remember money is paid out to every man’ woman, and child in these tribes.

    Just think how IF a casino were to happen here in the Cayman Islands, just think’ how wealthy every Caymanian man, woman, and child and the C.I Government would be IF the C.I. Government would think of the people first, and not themselves.

    The Cayman People said NO to the TAXES to the Expats, and won. Caymanians you can say NO or YES to the casinos to, BUT use your mind here Caymanians, Say YES, but use few stipulations. The main number 1 stipulation should be that it’s Government, and caymanian people owned, and that every Caymanian man, woman, and child be treated fairly in a monthly dividend check.

    American Indian Tribes Are Profiting from gambling, and Florida is where it all began. Since then, Indian gaming has greatly expanded. It generated 22.6 billion in revenue in 2005, up 14.6 percent from the previous year 2004, according to the Indian Gaming Industry Report by Alan Meister, an economist with Analysis Group. Florida’s tribes – the Seminoles and the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians – placed sixth among the highest grossing states with more than 1.26 billion in revenue in 2005 – up 36.1 percent from 2004, the study showed. YES you read that right : 1.26 billion in revenue….. WOW how nice is that?

    The Seminoles account for a large chunk of Florida Indian gaming revenue, and 90 percent of their budget comes from gambling. The Seminoles have seven casinos, including thriving Hard Rock Hotel and Casinos in Hollywood and Tampa.

    Caymanians a casino in the Cayman Islands will be the opportunity that every Caymanian Man, woman, and child should look forward to. BUT only if it’s owned by the C.I. Government, and its Caymanian people. SAY NO to DART, and to China harbor and to anyone else who wants to buy a LIC for casinos in the Cayman Islands. Casinos will belong to the CAYMAN PEOPLE.

    The second stipulation should be a law that the C.I. Government put’s into effect, as NO Caymanian, or Cayman resident can GAMBLE at all,with-in the Cayman Islands Gambling establishments. Every American Indian Tribe in the United States has this very LAW set in place at all their Gambling Casinos across the U.S.

    The reason that Native Indians can not gamble with their own gambling establishments, is that their tribal leaders do not want their own people to gamble away their lives and fortunes. This law is a protection set in place by their tribal leaders. This is a wise and intelligent law.

    Say YES Caymanians, but hold your ground with the above stipulations, and you’ll become the riches people in the Caribbean. Fight for what’s right!

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