Editorial for 08 November: Good argument, but it’s a bit late

On Tuesday night, Cayman Islands Premier McKeeva Bush took
to the airwaves and made an argument against the proposed Framework for Fiscal
Responsibility being written into law.

Unfortunately, he was making that argument in the same
speech in which he was assenting to the United Kingdom’s demands regarding the
fiscal framework.

If Mr. Bush and his government truly objected to the
implementation of this document, or certain specific provisions within it,
surely the time to discuss and negotiate those potential changes was prior to
signing the original agreement in November 2011.

The premier may well argue that he was “under duress” in
getting the required funding for the budget without being able to borrow money.
He might also state, correctly, that the irresponsible spending by the previous
government was at least partly to blame for the financial situation Cayman now
finds itself in.

However, these statements seem a bit odd to us, given that
just a year ago Premier Bush was saying the following: “Based on the historical
evidence of what can happen when a financially irresponsible government that
spends without any thought process or a carefully thought out plan, I am in
favour of signing such a mutually agreed Framework for Fiscal Responsibility.”
If you supported the Framework for Fiscal Responsibility when it was a signed
agreement with the United Kingdom, what changed a year later when government
proceeded to insert the document into the Public Management and Finance Law? In
any case, objecting to it after signing it and trying some last minute legal
amendments against the express wishes of the UK is a plan doomed to failure. It
cannot have been easy for Premier Bush, a proud and determined leader, to admit
defeat on the fiscal framework issue as well as the ongoing port negotiations.

However, we feel it is fair comment to say at least part of
the blame rests with government’s style of last-minute crisis management that
has not served the territory best in this – and other – situations. Cayman
needs to start planning for the medium and longer term, or it will most
certainly fail in the short term. That need for longer term planning is, in
large part, the reason for the implementation of the Framework for Fiscal
Responsibility.

 

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