Editorial for 08 August: Love and votes

At a public meeting in West Bay about the budget crisis last
week, Premier McKeeva Bush chastised the media for calling the now-abandoned
payroll tax an “expat tax” instead of his preferred euphemism, a “Community
Enhancement Fee”.

Mr. Bush went so far as to say that those who called the
revenue measure an “expat tax” didn’t love the Cayman Islands. Although Cayman
Free Press wasn’t the only news media to use the term “expat tax”, we did so
first and several times thereafter, so we assume Mr. Bush’s comment was aimed,
at least partly, at us.

Regardless of the fact that making someone pay a percentage
of their income to the government is clearly a tax and not a fee and using the
words “community enhancement” doesn’t change its essence one bit, Mr. Bush’s
comments about love of country contained more than a little irony.

Clearly, proposing a new tax on a select segment of
nonvoting immigrants and saying that he would not support any revenue measure
imposed on “ordinary” Caymanians is nothing more than a political strategy to
avoid losing votes in the next May’s general elections.

That political strategy might have played well to at least
some Caymanians, but it certainly wasn’t in the long-term best interests of
the Cayman Islands.

This tax, by all accounts, would have had serious negative
effects on Cayman, undoubtedly causing economic contraction and deterring
inward investment. In addition, once a direct tax is implemented, it inevitably
increases and expands to other people.

Just announcing the tax has already damaged the
jurisdiction’s reputation through a barrage of negative international press
reports. Beyond that, the announcement has left a wide gash in Cayman’s social
harmony, raising tensions between Caymanians and expatriates to an
unprecedented level.

The proposed revenue measure had nothing to do with loving
the Cayman Islands or its people, but everything to do with protecting the
political careers of the sitting government, who seem to love votes more than
anything else.



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