Editorial for October 8: Throne Speech: Short, but oh so sweet

“It is incumbent on this honorable house to ensure that the proposals submitted by government for the coming financial year offer the people of the Cayman Islands value for money. This is a weighty task, the importance of which cannot be overestimated.”

Well said, governor.

On Monday, Governor Helen Kilpatrick delivered her first Throne Speech, consisting of a wonderfully concise address to open the annual round of budget debates in the Legislative Assembly. We can only hope the style and substance of Ms Kilpatrick’s remarks leave an impression on our local lawmakers, who often seem to lose track of decimal points and dollar signs amid their own volubility.

Distinguishing Ms Kilpatrick from Cayman’s previous governors, who have typically been diplomats, is her background as a chartered public accountant and civil servant in the United Kingdom’s Home Office. While the new governor has been in her post for only a month, so far we are inclined to believe our Mother Country exercised wise judgment in sending us an administrator with Ms Kilpatrick’s credentials and experience.

All in all, Monday’s official state opening of the Legislative Assembly represented fresh beginnings for the territory, which in recent years has been battered about by financial and political crises, both beyond our control and of the self-inflicted sort.

The new Progressives-led government had the opportunity to present its plans for the upcoming year and to demonstrate the products of its backstage efforts that have taken place in the four months since the election.

The government’s to-do list for the 2013/14 budget year includes some novel initiatives as well as several old familiars.

Here are some proposals that have piqued our interest: making the Office of the Auditor General more independent by virtue of new legislation, creating a new website for the judiciary where judgments will be posted for the public to view, converting Cayman Brac’s “Hurricane Hilton” into a secondary school, building on recent common-sense changes at the Cayman Islands Postal Service to facilitate actual parcel delivery, and embarking on a new project with U.K. biotech company Oxitec to target dengue-carrying mosquitoes.

To our surprise, we also learned the Electricity Regulatory Authority intends to hold another round of competitive bidding to generate 36 megawatts of power for Grand Cayman. This comes less than three months after the authority canceled an agreement signed in February with Dart Realty to do just that, at the time citing forecasts of sluggish demand by monopoly electricity provider Caribbean Utilities Company.

The Throne Speech wouldn’t have been complete without the usual promises: building a new courthouse, reconciling the criminal justice system with the Bill of Rights, bringing a National Conservation Bill before the legislature, continuing the procurement process for a proper cruise berthing facility, cracking down on gender discrimination, updating the territory’s mental health law, and seeking out new proposals to solve Grand Cayman’s waste management woes.

Time will tell which, if any, of those goals will be accomplished. Each year we are treated to declarations of the government’s hopes, dreams and aspirations for the coming months.

Some are modest. Some are ambitious. Some are new. Some are not.

We echo, endorse and emphasize the astute observation of Governor Kilpatrick that, above all, the responsibility of government is to ensure that its actions constitute prudent investments of the Caymanian people’s resources.

Anything less reduces politicians’ pomp and pledges to mere noise.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Yes I must agree, the UK has done its home-work, and its overseas territory work. First by agreeing two problem areas in Cayman, Finance management and Immigration, and secondly, placing two individuals with these experiences at the head of the table; Governor and Deputy governor. Lets hope these two experienced consultants will be effectively supported. This government seem to have the third in focus, Education.

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  2. Governor Kilpatrick’s Throne Speech would have had to be short and sweet…as her very short and sweet stay in Cayman has been; she’s just newly arrived.

    The white elephant in Cayman’s room is…CRIME.

    For a jurisdiction the size of Cayman, and a place not traditionally known for the type of violent crime now being seen…along with the blatant use of firearms…this is a truly worrying and damaging situation for Cayman’s entire society…and international reputation.

    Enforcement of laws and punishment for breaking them, alone, does not address the underlying causes of crime, especially financially-motivated crime such as robbery and burglary, which are most prevalent in Cayman.

    Education and career and job opportunities must be a part of any strategy to address and reverse Cayman’s rising crime levels.

    A person who has even the basic gift of literacy cannot even begin to imagine what life is for someone who cannot read or write…and what empowerment that person is gifted with when given those basic tools to work with.

    Hopefully this new regime will concentrate on the areas of building a vocational training and education system that will help to get the less-academically inclined of Cayman’s youth a decent start in life…

    And keep the guns out of the hands of the next generation.

    It is never too late to make an effort.

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