Fuel duty cut, road improvements among fiscal plans
A cut in duty on fuel imports, a national apprenticeship scheme to get young people into work and a road building program in George Town, were among the highlights of government’s policy agenda outlined by Governor Helen Kilpatrick in the Throne Speech on Monday.
Ms. Kilpatrick’s address provided a broad outline of government’s plans for the coming year, which she said would also include further cuts to the size and cost of the public sector despite endorsing an increase in staffing levels in the fire and police service.
More detailed policy aims will be outlined by the individual government ministers later in the week as legislators debate the annual budget plan.
In her introductory remarks, Ms. Kilpatrick said government had established a “strong foundation” for the economy in the past year and was in a position to move forward with key infrastructure projects, including the cruise port, airport and road improvements.
“In particular, it will build several new roads to alleviate traffic congestion in central George Town and that will assist with the revitalization of that area,” she said.
She said Health City Cayman Islands and several hotel developments were expected to contribute to improved employment prospects and economic growth.
“Government will use a number of approaches to capitalize on this positive environment including reducing the duty paid on fuel and cutting the import duty on goods paid by licensed local merchants,” she said.
The cuts, which Premier Alden McLaughlin later confirmed would mean a reduction of 25 cents per gallon on diesel duty imported by CUC from January 1 next year, should result in lower electricity bills which are heavily influenced by the price of fuel.
New initiatives to ease unemployment will include more vocational training throughout the school system and the launch of a national apprenticeship program, the governor said.
She said new staff would also be recruited in the National Workforce Development Agency as well as in the fire service and police service.
Despite those additions, Ms. Kilpatrick said the government was committed to reducing the overall size and cost of the civil service.
“Real progress is being made to transform the culture of the civil service into one which is more accountable, innovative and value conscious,” she said.
She added that further cuts would be outlined in a “rationalization review,” which would be completed in July and implemented in the coming financial year.
She said the budget was targeted at helping Caymanians and residents meet the challenges of every day life.
“With this budget, the government has sought to lower the cost of living and the cost of doing business, particularly for small business,” she said.