Stefan Baraud: Independent Candidate for George Town

See Stefan on Compass Election Coverage 

The upcoming General Elections on May 22nd 2013 will break new ground with more seats in the Nation’s capital and among other things, we will have the highest number of candidates running since the year 2000.

New and old political parties are still present but the emphasis on this General Election appears to be the rise, or the return of the independent candidates. Unlike many of the candidates running for the first time, Stefan has extensive political experience on which to draw from. With a stagnant economy, a growing unemployment issue and the lack of integrity and honesty amongst our leaders, the time is now to have the right leaders in place to put this country back on the right track.

Q. Our economy is in need of an immediate stimulus. What would you do to provide the boost the country so desperately needs?
.  Create jobs by addressing much needed infrastructure projects.
In 2007 when Cayman hosted the FCCA conference, the average spend per day per cruise ship passenger, was U$142.00. Today, that figure has been reduced to less than US$100.

There are two major infrastructure enhancements required that we need to progress with right now. The first is, the re-development of the cruise berthing facility. I support the creation of a new cruise berthing facility as long as the selection process of the developer follows strict procurement standards.

The second infrastructure development I support is the enhancement of our airports. We need enhanced facilities along with the expansion of our runway to accommodate long haul flights and larger aircrafts, particularly those bringing tourists from destinations such as Europe and Asia.

The start of both of these projects will undoubtedly stimulate the economy in the short term with the creation of approximately 400 jobs which will be needed to build the berthing facility; jobs that can be filled by available and capable Caymanians.

These two Capital Projects in the medium and long term will contribute significantly in improving business for our industry partners, create jobs for Caymanians and enhance our Tourism Product, both for Cruise Visitors and our Stay-Over Visitors.

Q. As a local businessman, you must have some unique ideas as to how best to help small businesses in Cayman.
. Over the past decade there has been much talk about inward investment. It is true that every country needs inward investment for its economy to thrive, but that investment must benefit local businesses and generate employment for Caymanians as much as possible.

Without the right links between inward investment and the local economy, the concessions provided to investors will always fail to have the desired effect of stimulating the local economy.

I have a clear plan in place to address the issue, including:

  • Create a standard policy on concessions to avoid inequitable treatment of investors and to ensure a fair process.
  • Create a database of local businesses that can be accessed by investors, to allow local businesses the opportunity to benefit from the increased economic activity.
  • Insist that in all agreements with new investors, there is an appropriate cost benefit analysis that takes into account the involvement of local businesses in each project.
  • Work with the Cayman Islands Development Bank, DCI and Chamber of Commerce to establish a national strategy for small businesses

Q. Many of those running within the party system claim that voting for an independent is a “wasted” vote.  What are your thoughts on this?
This is absolutely incorrect!  Party politics was introduced into the Cayman Islands at the beginning of 2000; prior to that we had independent candidates, some of whom ran as a team. The difference then to now, the candidates were prepared to put aside their personal differences and work together for the benefit of the country.

Today that is what we must strive towards, in order to put this country back on track. Simply put, without similar characteristics, qualities and the mindset of yesteryear candidates, party politics in the Cayman Islands will never work. We have seen extreme overspending since 2000, accusations of corruption by our leaders, constant negative publicity in the international press and divisiveness within the Parties.

By the number of independent candidates running, it clearly demonstrates or can be concluded, that the Party system is secondary in these Elections and the new government of the day will be a coalition government, made up of a number of Independent candidates.

Q. With a large number of corporate businesses leaving the Town Centre, what would you do to revitalise George Town?
There is no doubt that with the constant relocation of businesses out of our Town Centre, the country’s capital is slowly dying. In order to reverse this trend, the Planning Law must be amended, more specifically, an amendment to re-zone the Town Centre, so as to allow for the conversion of office buildings, from office/retail to residential/retail.

This mixed-use opportunity of building space would allow for buildings that are standing vacant, or soon to become vacant, due to the relocation of businesses to other areas of the Island to be converted to apartments for downtown living. The Planning Law would have to also be more relaxed with regard to parking requirements (i.e. to lessen parking requirements in town). And lastly Pedestrianisation of some parts of downtown will be needed to enhance the visitor experience of our town centre.

There is also a cultural component not to be overlooked. The promotion of ongoing activities and attractions such as small offerings; e.g. jazz in the park, outdoor movie showings and cultural plays, just to name a few. It should also be noted that the completion of the berthing facility would also increase the passenger time on shore from 4.5 hours, which is the lowest in the region and inevitably allow cruise ships to stay in port later.

This in turn will provide a greater window of opportunity for the cruise ship passengers to spend more money; thus encouraging the growth of small businesses that would cater to this industry, such as sidewalk cafes, restaurants and local entertainment.

Q. What are your closing remarks?
  I love my country and when elected I will work my hardest to make this country, a country we can again be proud of, a country where we can all share in its prosperity, a country where Caymanians are again employed.

Whilst I am saddened by the current state of affairs of our country, I am also excited and confident by the opportunities that lie ahead.  Good governance underpins every successful economy. With the proper laws and systems in place to encourage and allow for good governance and transparency in the public sector, we will successfully rebuild our country. I will engage and work with the vocational and technical training schools to help Caymanians pursue vocational careers.

I will work hard with my colleagues in the Legislative Assembly to put Caymanians back into the work force.


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