UK tells Premier to drop revised FFR and cruise ship deal
The United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Minister for the Overseas Territories Mark Simmonds has told Premier McKeeva Bush not to push ahead with a plan to bring a revised version of the Framework for Fiscal Responsibility to the Legislative Assembly next week.
In a letter to the premier from the minister, which the Office of the Governor made public Friday afternoon, Mr. Simmonds stated that he understands Mr. Bush plans to proceed to the Legislative Assembly on Monday, 5 November “to transpose a version of the FFR which does not accord with that which you have signed. This is not acceptable.”
He continued: “Should you go through with this course of action, I will have no choice but to conclude that you are disregarding good governance and continue to be in breach of a series of commitments you have made. This is disappointing for the Cayman people.”
The minister said he had told Mr. Bush in an earlier correspondence on 1 November, to which the premier had not responded, that the “continued breach” of commitment left Mr. Simmonds with “no alternative but to give detailed consideration to alternatives”.
He did not state what those alternatives would be.
In the letter released and dated Friday, Mr. Simmonds also said he would not allow Mr. Bush to proceed with the procurement of the new cruise ship terminal “unless the proper procedures have been followed”.
Although he agreed that a new cruise ship terminal was an important project, due process would have to be followed, he said.
“Should you push ahead regardless, I will have no choice but to ask the Secretary of State to instruct the Governor to reject the proposals,” Mr. Simmonds said in the letter.
The Cayman Islands Government is in talks with China Harbour Engineering Company to expand cruise ship facilities in Grand Cayman.
According to a statement from the Office of the Governor, both Mr. Simmonds and his predecessor, Henry Bellingham, raised the concerns over the cruise ship project procurement a number of times in meetings and in correspondence with Premier Bush over the past year.
“Mr Simmonds has now found it necessary to write to the Premier again about this and the outstanding issue of the transposition into law of the Framework for Fiscal Responsibility,” the statement from Governor Duncan Taylor’s office read.
The statement said Minister Simmonds had asked that his letter be made available to the people of the Cayman Islands so that there is “no misunderstanding of the UK government’s position on both issues”.
“The UK Government supports the aim of enhanced cruise ship facilities and fully understands the potential economic benefit to the Cayman Islands. The nationalities of the parties involved have no bearing on this case. We encourage investment in the Cayman Islands by China and other countries. It is of critical long-term importance to all parties that proper procurement processes are followed in line with international best practice,” the statement continued.
For more on this story, read Monday’s Caymanian Compass.