New government ready to roll

Cayman-Islands-Premier-Alden-McLaughlin-main

The new government of the Cayman Islands has pledged to immediately get down to business after being sworn in Wednesday during a ceremony held outside and inside of the Legislative Assembly. 

The ruling government and opposition benches took their final shape as former Premier Juliana O’Connor-Connolly was nominated as Speaker of the House, replacing Mary Lawrence in that role.  

“Let us rise to the challenge and begin a new form of politics so that our children, when we leave this stage, can look at this juncture as a defining moment in time,” Ms O’Connor-Connoly said. “Egos will be put in a little box and throw away the key and statesmen and [states]women will rise from this chamber.”  

Not counting Ms O’Connor-Connolly, who as speaker will not get to vote in legislative matters, Premier Alden McLaughlin will have 11 people in his new government. That includes himself and eight Progressives party members, as well as independents Tara Rivers and Winston Connolly.  

United Democratic Party leader McKeeva Bush sat in the customary opposition leader’s chair aside his colleagues Bernie Bush and Capt. Eugene Ebanks during the inside proceedings. He was nominated and confirmed as opposition party leader Wednesday.  

In the “south-east” corner of the assembly floor, independent member Roy McTaggart fit in between returning incumbent independents Arden McLean and Ezzard Miller. Mr. McTaggart was named the chairman of the Legislative Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee.  

The deputy speaker’s post was given to Bodden Town representative Anthony Eden. 

Negotiations to form the new administration went right to the wire with the final pieces falling into place on Tuesday night, less than 24 hours before the swearing-in ceremony.  

Ms O’Connor-Connolly has joined the Progressives party, but as speaker she is not technically a member of the government and maintains a neutral role, overseeing but not participating in debates in the assembly. 

In an ironic turn of events, Mr. Bush – as longest-serving member and “Father of the House” – opened the nominations for his former government deputy premier, and new Progressives party member, as speaker on Wednesday.  

“It is a long-standing position of mine, and it is a long-standing position of the United Democratic Party that the speaker can either come from the members of the Legislative Assembly or can come from outside,” Mr. Bush said, also pausing for a moment of silence on behalf of former House Speaker Edna Moyle, who died on 21 May.  

Premier McLaughlin acknowledged that he had taken the helm in “challenging times” for the Cayman Islands. 

His leadership team, announced Tuesday, will meet with the Cabinet secretary Thursday and get straight to work, he said. 

An immediate priority will be to deal with a new potential threat to the Cayman Islands’ financial services industry following statements from UK Prime Minister David Cameron urging Britain’s overseas territories to sign up to new treaties on tax ahead of the G-8 summit in June. 

Mr. McLaughlin will also push for a June meeting with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office where he will attempt to convince British politicians to loosen their grip on Cayman’s finances. He is seeking more “leeway” to get major government projects going. 

“There are some significant policy issues that we have to get our heads around very quickly,” he added. 

Mr. McLaughlin confirmed the majority of Cabinet posts on Tuesday with Marco Archer taking finance, Kurt Tibbetts in charge of health, Osbourne Bodden getting the education ministry and Moses Kirkconnell taking on the tourism ministry, as well as being named deputy premier. 

The full list of responsibilities for the seven ministers will be worked out in the coming weeks as the new government leadership sits down with senior civil servants to work out the best way forward. 

Mr. McLaughlin will also call meetings with the civil service budget team as he looks to put together a plan for the territory’s spending priorities during the next financial year. 

He said the negotiations over the past week had been “tense and intense”. And he insisted it was now time for legislators to work together in the best interests of the Cayman Islands. He said he had formed a majority PPM government, not a coalition, following Ms O’Connor-Connolly’s decision to join the party. However, he said he wanted to be inclusive and had appointed independent legislator Tara Rivers as minister of labour and gender affairs and Winston Connolly as a councillor in the same ministry. 

He insisted every one of his PPM team was capable of being a Cabinet minister and there had never been any serious consideration of offering more than one Cabinet post outside the Progressives party. 

Discussions with Mr. Miller and Mr. McLean over possible roles in government stalled on Tuesday and both men sat on the opposition side on Wednesday. Mr. Miller turned down the role of deputy speaker, according to Mr. Kirkconnell, who led the talks. 

Mr. McLaughlin said: “What we have is a government of inclusion, we have reached across the aisle and agreed to bring on board persons who are not members of the PPM and who will retain their independent status and standing, but who are prepared to work with the government to achieve common objectives.” 

He said he had talked with Mr. Connolly and had no problems working with him, despite some differences of opinion and the independent member’s previous opposition to Mr. McLaughlin’s leadership. 

“All sorts of things are said in the heat of a campaign. Aside from that I do believe it is possible to accommodate people with different philosophies as long as we all agree on what the objective ought to be,” the new premier said. 

He added: “We want the best government we can get for the Cayman Islands … we also wish to have as comfortable a majority as we can so the government is able to operate without constantly worrying whether or not we can make the quorum, whether or not we can get bills through.” 

Expanding on his earlier remarks on planned talks with the UK over financial constraints, he added that the PPM was keen to get going on some major projects to help stimulate the economy. 

“We want to talk about longer term plan for restoring fiscal stability in Cayman, one which allows us some leeway to get going with some of the major government projects we need as quickly as possible. 

“We are firm believers that that will be a very important stimulus to the local economy. We have to get moving to engender confidence in the private sector. Business, investors and so on will be much more willing to spend money and provide employment.” 

 

Alden McLaughlin – premier and minister of home affairs 

Moses Kirkconnell – deputy premier, minister of tourism and district administration 

Marco Archer – minister of finance, development and planning 

Kurt Tibbetts – minister of health, works, agriculture and community affairs 

Wayne Panton – minister of financial services 

Osbourne Bodden – minister of education and sports 

Tara Rivers – minister of labour and gender affairs 

Other appointments 

Juliana O’Connor-Connolly – speaker 

McKeeva Bush – leader of the opposition 

Roy McTaggart – chairman 
of the Public Acounts Committee 

Anthony Eden – deputy speaker 

Cayman-Islands-Prem
ier-Alden-McLaughlin

Alden McLaughlin is the new Premier of the Cayman Islands. – Photo: Jewel Levy

Cayman-Islands-Governor-Duncan-Taylor-and-Alden-McLaughlin

Governor Duncan Taylor apparently checking to see if new Premier Alden McLaughlin is sticking to the script Wednesday. – Photo: Norma Connolly

McKeeva-Bush-and-Tara-Rivers

Getting along fine Wednesday were UDP leader McKeeva Bush, left, and new Labour Minister Tara Rivers. – Photo: Jewel Levy

Ezzard-Miller-and-daughter

North Side representative Ezzard Miller swears in with his daughter by his side as lawmakers look on. – Photo: Norma Connolly
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8 COMMENTS

  1. ”Mr. McLaughlin will also push for a June meeting with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office where he will attempt to convince British politicians to loosen their grip on Cayman’s finances. He is seeking more leeway to get major government projects going.” That rings the alarm bell in me. How did the Southern European countries get in the fiscal and economic mess they are now in? It was when their leaders thought they could stimulate the economy by spending more and more money and got trapped in the debt spiral. Mr. McLaughlin, I urge you not to go down that same disastrous road. Cayman already has a large loan it has to repay in a few years’ time. Instead of getting caught in the debt trap, set money aside NOW for repaying the outstanding loan. Without any new debt and without new taxes. The CI government spends tens of millions each year unproductively on Cayman Airways, the Turtle Farm, … These funds could easily be saved if you are the strong leader you want to be. Otherwise I truly hope the FCO will say no to your spending plans. If not, this will indeed be ”a defining moment in time our children, when we leave this stage, can look at.” But quite a different one from what Ms. O’Connor-Connolly meant!

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  2. The honeymoon is officially over.

    * Alden is about to learn firsthand what it is like to be treated like a piece of trash when he goes to the UK.

    * He will understand very quickly that the relationship between the UK and the British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies is very much one-sided and that he is expected to simply do what the UK says without exception.

    * He will learn that the UK cares more about their relationship with the rest of Europe than they care about their relationship with the British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies.

    * He will learn that the UK is not willing to offer much flexibility with the budget and that he will be unable to accomplish many of the things that he promised during the election campaign.

    The look on his face when he returns from the UK will be priceless.

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  3. The headline said that government was going to get down to brass tax. The correct term is ‘brass tacks’ unless a double entendre was intended.

    Editors note: Just having a bit of fun, we’ll put the tax in quotes just in case, though.

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  4. So from the comments, it would appear Mr. Bush is sucking his thumb already. Most losers take that approach.

    Depends on who comes to my door as to how I treat them. I am less cordial toward a vagrant than others. I am no supporter of Mr. McLaughlin in any way shape or form and time will tell me what I think. I have looked past the fairy tale of his traffic woes and taken a clean slate approach with him. So lets see how the UK treats the new kid on the block.You may find a more cordial welcome.

    And by the way, I am not a Brit.

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  5. I hope so
    First order of business should be get rid of the boards that decide caymanians futures NOT all boards.
    I have a friend going to turn in for a new trade and business license today . how long will he have to wait before they decide if he may engauge in his new venture? If he pays his 375ci it should be done instantly if his paperwork is filled out properly.
    2. Should my friend wait a month or so in order to get a work permit for someone to do the work required in his new venture? He already knows the right person for the job. My friend should be able to pay the 1800 permit fee and if the paperwork is complete tell his friend to get to work. the moment he pays …not wait for some group of people to decide if he is allowed to hire the person he chooses.

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  6. CONGRATULATIONS to PPM !!! This was our LAST chance at survival.
    MacB, in my opinion,PR skills and the perception of egotistical power will affect ANY relationship !
    Its a matter of not what you ask for but HOW you ask…..Communication 101.
    I have all the confidence in the world in Premier McLaughlin’s ability to PROPERLY and intelligently represent us. So, instead of the defeatist attitude of the past, he brings fresh optimism: Winston Churchill once said, A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty…we all agree that our Premier’s job will NOT be an easy one!

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