While most of the nearly 650 respondents to the cayCompass.com online poll believe that the rollover policy for foreign workers is the most serious issue confronting the Cayman Islands government, a plethora of “other” opinions indicates a vocal and frustrated electorate.
Rollover, if not synonymous with immigration, is intimately tied to the subject, which itself rapidly broadens to questions of unemployment and even the cost of living – making it difficult to separate the issue into hard and fast categories.
Among the 246 – or 38.3 per cent – who voted “rollover” as the most pressing issue, opinion divided on whether more or fewer expatriates ought to live in the Cayman Islands.
“Do we Caymanians really have an issue with the rollover policy, even with it in place most Caymanians don’t benefit from what it was set up to do,” said one respondent, citing a widespread feeling that the policy was intended to protect local employment, yet nearly 2,000 Caymanians remain out of work.
From a different perspective, however, comes the sense that reducing Cayman’s population reduces economic opportunity for everyone. Fewer people means less spending, a smaller consumer base, restricted economies of scale and fewer jobs. When expatriate financial managers depart, for example, one politician indicated, employment casualties frequently extend to local secretaries support staff, among others.
“The clock is ticking and Cayman really can’t afford to lose more people right now,” one respondent opined.
“The immigration issue as a whole is a top priority,” said another. “While [infrastructure] redevelopments are urgently required, immigration reform must happen.”
At least 18 “other” opinions touched on immigration reform, ranging from “immigration corruption, far too many people on this island, THEY NEED TO GO,” according to one answer, to a more moderate consideration of the legal parameters and a call for enforcement of applicable laws.
“Make it mandatory for employers to hire Caymanian first,” one said. “If not, [we] need to find out why. I notice lots of employers never really have the intention to hire or train locals.”
Meanwhile, cruise berthing ranked as a second concern among voters, drawing 180 ballots, or 28 per cent of those surveyed.
While comments were sparse related to the passenger docks, people were clearly concerned about maintaining one of Cayman’s most vibrant industries and the local jobs it entails.
One respondent felt both immigration and berthing could simultaneously form government’s top priority, while another remarked more generally that if the national budget were given the care and attention it deserved, everything else would fall in line.
“Deal with the budget … if we fix the economy, the rollover issue, the cruise ship berth, the landfill and airport redevelopment issues will all be fixed … my vote is for the party who will address the budget.”
In third place, garnering 90 votes – or 14 per cent of those who responded – was the loosely described “other” bloc, comprising a wide range of opinion. Those responses included corruption, annual multimillion-dollar cash injections into chronic loss-makers such as the Turtle Farm and Cayman Airways, duty on fuel imports, excessive public expenditure, civil service reduction, crime and the cost of living.
The most articulate call was for improved education: “First order of business should be education. Students in lower grade sets should be given more math and English classes and less physical education. A recognised trade school needs to be implemented. Also sexual education classes needs to be taught from Year 7 and up with classes at least once a week going into depth on sex, contraception, diseases and prevention. Like it or not, the youth of today practice a lot and know very little. Nurses should be brought in to give talks.”
Finally, the George Town landfill – and presumably the associated waste-management facility proposed for Bodden Town – ranked fourth as issues of concern for voters, gaining 85 votes – or 13.2 per cent – while airport redevelopment gained 42 votes – or 6.5 per cent.
Next week’s poll question
What changes to the Elections Law would you like to see, if any?
Let more people be eligible for early voting
Have pictures of candidates on the ballot
Allow liquor licensed premises to be open on election day
Do away with campaign expense limits