Between 2007 and 2012, the British government spent more than CI$840,000 on projects in the Cayman Islands.
That figure, released under a Freedom of Information request last year, indicates that the $430 million sum cited by one British MP as how much the United Kingdom government had given Cayman over three years as part of a parliamentary motion was vastly overestimated.
According to a document released under a Freedom of Information request in the UK in February 2012, the only funds provided to the Cayman Islands during the five-year period was £635,046, which equates to CI$840,393.
A January 2012 FOI request asked how much money the UK government had given Cayman, how much was in the form of loans or aid, and if the UK government funded specific projects or activities over the preceding five years.
The response to the FOI request was highlighted in the House of Commons late last year when Conservative MP Sir Peter Bottomley posed a parliamentary question to Mark Simmonds, the secretary of foreign affairs, asking how much money the UK had supplied the Cayman Islands over five years.
Mr. Simmonds responded: “The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has committed £635,046 over the past five years for specific projects in the Cayman Islands, which support our criminal justice strategy, promote good governance and protect the Islands’ environmental biodiversity. The FCO has not lent money or provided aid to the Cayman Islands government.”
In October – three weeks before asking his parliamentary question about how much money the UK had spent in Cayman – Mr. Bottomley tabled an Early Day Motion in the House, which referred to the UK spending $430 million over the preceding three years.
The motion was in relation to a report released by the World Society for Protection of Animals, which highlighted what the group described as animal welfare abuse at the Cayman Turtle Farm.
The motion, which has been supported by 30 of the 649 MPs in the House of Commons, congratulated the WSPA “for bringing to light evidence of animal welfare abuses at the Cayman Turtle Farm, which is the last remaining facility in the world that commercially farms the endangered green turtle; believes that as an Overseas Territory, which has received $430 million from the government in the last three years, the government has an obligation to work with the Caymanian government to see this out-of-date practice finally ended; and calls on the government to condemn the practice of producing turtle meat for consumption and help assist the farm in moving towards practices that promote the protection of turtles rather than the production of their meat.”
In an e-mail in response to questions from the Caymanian Compass, Mr. Bottomley was not able to give a definite answer by press time as to where he got the figure of $430 million to which he referred in his motion.
Among the several projects the money provided by the UK has been spent on in Cayman are: feral cat eradication in Cayman Brac; maritime security exercises; prison officer training and secondment; a £100,000 donation to the Hurricane Paloma Recovery Fund; training and visit to the UK to enhance knowledge of Drug Court processes; projects supported through the governor’s delegated fund, which included lionfish eradication and a youth project in East End; the Shark and Cetacean Network for Conservation Awareness carried out by Marine Conservation International, West Lothian, Wales; and attendance at the Firearms Working Group in Miami.
A breakdown of the money spent by the UK government on Cayman showed that the Overseas Territories Programme Fund provided £492,512 (CI$651,579) between the financial years 2007/2008 and 2011/2012, while the Overseas Territories Environment Programme spent £103,983 (CI$137,553) during those years.
The Overseas Territories Programme Fund helps fund overseas territories governments and non-governmental organisations “to increase their capacity and capability to meet current and future challenges, linked to good governance, security and disaster management”, while the Overseas Territories Environment Programme funds small projects “aimed at helping the overseas territories protect their valuable biodiversity, and to meet their international obligations on environment issues, mitigate and adapt to climate change, and investigate renewable energy sources”, according to the document released under the FOI request.
A further £38,551 (CI$51,011) was provided by the Tactical Fund, which was created in 2010 to fund projects to support criminal justice systems in the Caribbean Overseas Territories.
To read more about a second motion regarding the Turtle Farm tabled by Sir Peter Bottomley, click here.