The revamped Cayman Islands Legislative Assembly will meet in January to vote on at least one more additional government revenue bill, according to Premier Juliana O’Connor-Connolly.
However, no new taxation will be proposed. “It’s anticipated in January we’ll have to bring that to the House so that our budget will be on target,” Ms O’Connor-Connolly said.
“There will be no new surprises coming forth. We just want to ensure that we keep our commitment for the three-year plan to the [United Kingdom’s] Foreign and Commonwealth Office.”
Prior to the removal of former Premier McKeeva Bush by a majority vote of no confidence in government last week, a number of key legislative priorities of the United Democratic Party government had not been passed.
Among the measures are a draft bill seeking wholesale reform of the National Pensions Law. That plan seeks to increase the retirement age from 60 to 65 for private sector workers and eliminate mandatory pension contributions for non-Caymanian workers, among other things.
A second major reform proposal was examined in a report by the Term Limit Review Committee on the Cayman Islands’ immigration system. Although legislation never reached the draft bill stage, the plan to eliminate Cayman’s current seven-year term-limit for foreign workers and allow everyone who stays in Cayman for between seven and eight consecutive years to apply for permanent residence was presented to Cabinet.
Neither proposal was discussed last Wednesday during the first media briefing held by the new government.
“Today’s our first day in,” Ms O’Connor-Connolly said on Wednesday. “We have an extreme amount of housekeeping to do. At a minimum, we would have to go back to parliament one time.”
Deputy Premier Rolston Anglin hinted that government’s legislative priorities may not be as ambitious as they once had been.
“We will see Cayman through 100 days or so that this Legislative Assembly lives,” Mr. Anglin said, referring to the dissolution of the House set to occur in late March ahead of the regularly scheduled 22 May general election.
One key agenda item of the United Democratic Party government that will apparently be carried forward by the new five-member “minority government” is the ForCayman Investment Alliance proposal.
The massive land-swap deal includes controversial plans to relocate a section of West Bay Road in the Seven Mile Beach area and build a new landfill facility in Midland Acres, in the district of Bodden Town. Health Minister Mark Scotland, who represents Bodden Town in the assembly, said it was the new government’s intention to push ahead with the ForCayman plans, even if they didn’t finish it off.
“In terms of the timing of that arrangement, some of those things may not come into being prior to the dissolution of the House in March anyway,” Mr. Scotland said. “But as far as from a government perspective, I would expect that we are going to be continuing on with negotiations as a government … as we continue to develop that agreement, the ForCayman alliance, because we still consider it to be a very beneficial arrangement for the country.”
Minister Anglin said he believed any government taking power after the May 2013 election would likely take the same stance.
“I don’t think any candidate in the upcoming election is going to be anti-development or anti-growth in the economy,” he said. “The key is that the system of procurement we use is one that all parties will agree to.”