The Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce said Thursday that government’s 2014/15 budget addressed all the major issues its membership identified as crucial to the local economy, and urged government to go further in reducing business operating costs in the future.
“Slashing import duty rates on diesel fuel and items for retail sale imported by licensed traders are steps in the right direction,” said Chamber President Johann Moxam.
Mr. Moxam urged local businesses to “pass along these savings to consumers” from the breaks in duty on imported retail items.
The Chamber advocated for a number of other issues in the upcoming budget including the introduction of daylight savings time, Sunday trading hours, public sector reform and the revitalization of George Town.
The business advocacy group, which represents 65 percent of the local businesses in the Cayman Islands, also noted that government’s expectations for revenue and expenditure numbers were exceeded during the 2013/14 year.
“The premier’s address resonated a distinct tone of restored confidence and optimism in the Cayman economy,” Mr. Moxam said. “Under difficult circumstances, the government had recognized the need to try to help small businesses, to ease the burden on households with some of their proposals.”
While it supported the first steps taken during the 2014/15 budget, the spending plan falls quite a bit short of the full range of relief measures Chamber council members asked for in the run up to the spending plan’s release.
Chamber members asked the government in March to consider implementing a number of cost-cutting measures. Those reductions, the Chamber council said, should apply only to small or micro businesses, as they are classified by the government’s Department of Commerce and Investment. To qualify, those businesses should be fully compliant with pension and health insurance payments and also must have paid all fees due to government.
The “small business relief package” proposed by the Chamber includes the following incentives:
A 30 percent reduction in trade and business licensing fees.
A 7.5 percent cut in all current import duties.
A 25 percent concession on customs duties for small business start ups only.
A 30 percent cut on customs duties for small businesses that introduce “alternative energy solutions.”
A 25 percent reduction in all work permit fees and a 50 percent discount in those fees for part time staff. The 25 percent reduction in fees would apply to managerial positions.
The Chamber has also proposed that government reimburse the organization for training and development courses and develop a small business mentoring program.
Another suggestion included the potential for government to establish a mechanism for local small businesses to “get better access” to large public sector development projects.