Are you better off today than four years ago?

One of the most highly anticipated General Elections in the history of the Cayman Islands is less than one month away and the campaign trails are heating up as candidates attempt to convince registered voters that they possess the character, the skills, the qualities and the experience to lead and represent our Islands and their respective districts.

Voters have much to consider when selecting the next group of legislators, but it all leads to a fundamental question that should be asked by every resident and business owner: Am I better off today than I was four years ago?

Many of the issues that the Chamber discussed as pressing issues during the district candidates forums in 2009 remain as pressing issues today. The economy remains sluggish. Businesses in every sector continue to face unprecedented costs as a result of higher fees. Job creation and new development is flat.

The cost of living continues to rise to unsustainable levels, and unemployment among Caymanians remains unacceptably high. Essential and long overdue infrastructure projects such as the cruise berthing facility, airport redevelopment and the dump remain in limbo. Government finances are improving but further reforms are required to reduce the overspending, rationalise the public sector and privatise non-essential services. We are still debating labour policies and whether or not to throw out the term limit policy. The National Conservation Bill remains on a dusty shelf while our marine life is depleted and our national resources are destroyed.

As if these challenges aren’t enough, our Islands are experiencing the political and economic fall-out from the removal of our first Premier who is facing corruption charges. It is no wonder why our members in a recent survey overwhelmingly identified Government competence as their leading area of concern as they look to determine who they will vote for on 22 May 2013.

That same survey also found that our members want to hear more details from the candidates about how they plan to address the excessive costs of doing business and the ever increasing cost of living. Public safety concerns also ranked high on the list, as did what the candidates would do to address the education and skills gaps that exist within the Caymanian workforce, and, in turn, how this will impact the candidates decisions on whether or not to remove the term limit policy altogether.

To assist voters with understanding the positions of the candidates on these and many other national and district issues, the Chamber, for the seventh consecutive election, organised a series of district candidates’ forums during April and early May.

I attended every one of the forums in each of the six voting districts and very much enjoyed interacting with the candidates and district residents while learning more about what the electorate consider to be the most pressing national and district issues that need to be addressed by the incoming government.

As always, the forums were very informative, very competitive, and, at times, very entertaining! Also however, I found them to be very encouraging as it became clear that we have a number of very competent and experienced individuals running for office across all six voting districts, and on 22 May I am confident that we will return a slate of 18 very qualified individuals to our legislature who will address the issues, resolve the problems and move our country forward.

Any one of the forums can be replayed by visiting the Decision 2013 page on our website at www.caymanchamber.ky

The general tone of my conversations with members and district residents is that our country needs visionary leaders who will act to address the challenges we are faced with. They are tired of the political infighting and the unnecessary failures to follow through on manifesto promises. They want solutions and they want them now.

They want a group of legislators who can work together with a shared vision for the future.

I urge all registered voters to get out and exercise your democratic right to vote on 22 May. Let’s elect leaders who address today’s challenges and tomorrow’s opportunities. Let’s elect leaders who, together, will work to enable everyone who lives in our country to say in four years’ time, “Yes, I am better off today than I was four years ago!”

 

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