With election changes uncertain, Premier heads to UK

Cayman Islands Premier McKeeva Bush headed to London Wednesday for the annual meeting between Britain and representatives of its overseas territories.

The Joint Ministerial Council will be held on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week.

The premier departs without the government having approved necessary changes to the country’s Elections Law that would add new seats to the districts of George Town and Bodden Town ahead of the May 2013 general election.

It is possible that legislators will have to meet on 10 December, when Mr. Bush returns, to finalise those changes which add two new MLA positions to George Town and one new seat in Bodden Town.

The writs of election must be issued on 12 December, according to the Elections Law.

Formerly known as the Overseas Territories Consultative Council, the Joint Ministerial Council meeting affords overseas territories leaders the opportunity to collectively present their common interests to the UK and to also draw attention to their individual Territory’s concerns. The Caribbean overseas territories leaders are planning to hold their strategic meeting early Monday to map out presentation of common objectives. The name Joint Ministerial Council was adapted to reflect the aspiration expressed in the White Paper of equal partners deliberating on matters of mutual interest.

“This is a very busy but important agenda,” Mr. Bush said. “I will have the chance to get our message across to some key UK Ministers. I will remind them that we are a successful economy, but have gone through a deep recession.

”The UK Government needs to recognize that the Cayman Islands, like many of the Territories, are punching above our weight. I hope that we can go forward together like true partners, using our combined strengths.”

A number of pre-council meetings are scheduled, starting Thursday, including a meeting with Foreign Office Minister, UK MP Mark Simmonds.

The formal Joint Ministerial Council begins Tuesday with introductory remarks by Minister Simmonds in which he is expected to set out UK priorities. The opening session is scheduled to cover issues related to the legal and constitutional aspects of the relationship between the Territories and the UK Parliament.

Premier Bush will lead a session titled “Building successful and resilient economies”. This is a discussion of the UK’s prosperity agenda and focuses on how the UK and the Territories can work together to advance the economic success of Territories.

Discussions on the second day cover sustainable environmental management; links between OT and UK public services, procurement, standards in public life and legal issues; sport and youth development, tackling disadvantage and discrimination, poor parenting, dissemination of Bill of Rights information; youth offending and gangs, national security councils; and raising standards in education. UK Ministers from the relevant ministries are invited to these discussions.

The territories represented in London are: Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, the Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, St Helena, Tristan da Cunha and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Premier Bush and Education Minister Rolston Anglin will host a reception for Caymanian university students attending school in the UK on Friday. The Premier, through the London Office, will also host the Cayman Islands Government Reception on Tuesday for friends of and people with an interest in the Cayman Islands.

Accompanying the premier to the UK are the Attorney General Sam Bulgin, Financial Secretary Ken Jefferson, Cabinet Secretary Orrett Connor, the Chief of Staff in the Office of the Premier Leonard Dilbert and the Senior Political Assistant to the Premier Richard Parchment.

Deputy Premier Juliana O’Connor-Connolly will be acting premier in Mr. Bush’s absence.

McKeeva Bush Cayman Islands

Mr Bush
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