Annual budget provides pomp and ceremony

The 2014-2015 budget of the Cayman Islands government may have provided some of the most up-to-date financial information, but its delivery was not without some age-old customs. 

The new session of the Legislative Assembly began with the speaker’s procession, led by the Serjeant-at-Arms, bearing the ceremonial mace. 

Minutes later, Governor Helen Kilpatrick, dressed in a navy blue jacket and polka dotted skirt, inspected a guard of honor outside the Legislative Assembly building before entering the House and delivering the Throne Speech. 

As the Queen’s official representative for the Cayman Islands, Ms. Kilpatrick is required to open the ceremony with a “speech from the throne.” The speech is meant to provide the public with a brief overview of the Cayman Islands government’s achievements for the preceding year.  

It was her second throne speech since 2013 when she swore an oath to the Queen to serve as the governor of the Cayman Islands.  

Announcing her arrival at the House, as is traditional, the governor’s aide-de-camp gave three knocks on the main doors of the Legislative Assembly chamber and Ms. Kilpatrick was admitted to the chamber. 

This year’s government’s budget only drew eight members of the public who sat quietly upstairs in the public seating area.  

During her address, the governor gave a nod to Premier Alden McLaughlin’s appearance on BBC’s Hard Talk and commended Health City Cayman Islands for offering employment opportunities to Caymanians in the health services industry.  

She also touched upon some of her personal experiences as governor. “On a personal note, since my arrival in the Cayman Islands, I have grown to appreciate and admire the character of the people,” she said. 

“It is these people whom the members of this House are privileged to serve. Caymanians are welcoming, warm-hearted, intelligent, and proud of their culture,” she added. 

After the governor departed, the Serjeant-at-Arms called on Acting Speaker Anthony Eden to call the House to order, then laid the mace on the upper cradle to signify the House was in session. Mr. Eden was standing in for the absent Juliana O’Connor-Connolly who was attending a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association meeting overseas, 

After a motion to thank the governor, Premier McLaughlin gave a motion to defer the debate on the throne speech to Thursday, May 29.  

Minister of Finance Marco Archer then tabled the annual budget plans and the financial statements for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2015. 

The policy statement of this year’s budget, titled “Stability – the Roadmap to Prosperity” was given by the premier. Mr. McLaughlin highlighted a number of government initiatives for the coming year, which included a revitalization project of George Town and the possibility of Sunday trading. 

Following the premier’s brief speech, Mr. Archer delivered the budget address.  

The day ended with an argument over parliamentary procedure between Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush and Mr. McLaughlin. Mr. Bush accused the premier of setting up the debate, against the rules of procedure, so that both Mr. McLaughlin and Mr. Archer could debate it “twice.”  

Acting Speaker Eden made no ruling on the issue.  

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Governor Helen Kilpatrick prepares to inspect the RCIPS guard of honor in front of the Legislative Assembly. – PHOTOS: CHRIS COURT

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Officers from the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service form a guard of honor.
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