Anti-tax group will be renamed Cayman United
The Facebook group set up to help fight against the proposed expat tax will continue to work to make government more accountable even after the tax idea was scrapped, its members say.
Eden Hurlston, an active member of the group which has delivered alternative revenue raising measures to the government, said it will change its name from Caymanians and Expats United Against Taxation to “Cayman United”.
“We’re going to change the name… to get beyond the taxation issue, to get beyond the Caymanian and expat issue, and we’re going to keep addressing the idea of responsible government and transparent policies and fiscal and social responsibility being placed on our elected officials and by proxy on each and every one of us.
“We have to keep the conversation going and ultimately we have to hold them accountable to us. They work for us,” Mr. Hurlston said.
The group will also focus on voter drives, volunteer work and community enhancement, another member Chaz Hill said.
Several members of the group attended a meeting in Mary Miller Hall in Red Bay on 8 August to hear the alternative proposals to the expat tax put forward by Premier McKeeva Bush.
Mr. Hurlston said he was glad to hear that some of those proposals had been among the suggestions that the Facebook group had submitted to the government on Monday, 6 August.
The opposition to the proposed expat tax, which Premier Bush had called a “community enhancement fee”, resulted in galvanising a large number of people in the community to debate the impact of the tax and to offer alternatives.
“I feel like a proud Caymanian. I feel proud of our people. I feel like we’re going to be moving forward in positivity and the way to do that is to keep coming together and having open-minded discussions about our problems.
“It’s like a spark,” said Mr. Hurlston, adding: “I’ve been talking to a lot of people, expat and Caymanian, young and old, rich and not so rich, and so I see this as an opportunity for us all to grow and we’re going to grow by growing together… I don’t want to be cut out of the equation by our leaders and I don’t think anybody should.”
He acknowledged that when Mr. Bush first announced the tax, divisions in the community emerged. “It began by dividing people a lot. It began by dividing Caymanians against Caymanians… as well as Caymanians against expats, as well as expats against expats,” he said.
A different Cayman
Nick Pitman, a work permit holder who left Cayman earlier on Monday last week, set up the Caymanians and Expats United Against Taxation Facebook group within a day of Mr. Bush announcing his plans to implement the tax. That group quickly grew to more than 11,000 members.
“We’re living in a different Cayman nowadays where information is instant. I hope everyone really learned a lot about that aspect of it and learned how to turn a negative into a positive and how to turn a bunch of complaining and blaming and all these different things that were going on in the early stages of this – a lot of confusion, a lot of worrying – and turned it into solutions,” said Mr. Hurlston.
However, the proposed tax, which Mr. Bush announced last week had been taken off the table as a possible revenue raising measure, had already caused a lot of damage to Cayman, Mr. Hurlston said.
“Damage has been done to our community, damage has been done to our economy and I wonder how well that’s getting addressed. People have had to leave the island, funds have been lost to charitable organisations, revenue has been lost in the private sector and stamp duty has been lost in the public sector just from the real estate deals that did not go ahead. Have these been factored into the new proposals? Can they quantify the effect it’s had on our community? Who knows, but I want to see those things brought to the floor as well,” he said.